Outreach is a key part of a successful digital marketing campaign, but it’s not something that just anyone can do. It requires a specific skill set, and it’s important to find an outreach specialist who has the right experience and perspective for your brand.

Hire the wrong person and your outreach campaign could fall flat, but hire the right one and they could be a powerful asset in helping you reach your goals. 

So, how do you find an outreach specialist that’s a good fit for your business?

Today, we’re sharing some tips on how to do so the right way.

We’ll also dispel some of the common misconceptions about what an outreach specialist is and what they do.

Whether you’re looking to hire an outreach specialist for the first time or you’re looking to replace someone who didn’t work out, this guide will help you find the perfect fit.

What Is an Outreach Specialist?

An outreach specialist is someone who specializes in identifying and building relationships with potential partners, journalists, and other influencers. They use these relationships to promote their client’s content, products, or services.

Outreach specialists are often thought of as primarily focused on link building, but the reality is that their role encompasses much more than that, and can be much more nuanced.

A good outreach specialist will be able to help you with everything from content promotion, to PR, and can even check the pulse of the sectors they’re reaching out to.

In short, they should be a well-rounded marketer who is able to build relationships and influence people. They also need solid communication and organization skills, as they often juggle multiple projects at once.

A typical link building outreach campaign involves many people, multiple content pieces, and a lot of coordination.

Outreach specialists need to be able to manage all of that while still maintaining relationships with the people they’re working with.

What Does an Outreach Specialist Do?

The specific duties of an outreach specialist will vary depending on the type of business they’re working for and the goals of their campaign.

In general, though, an outreach specialist will be responsible for identifying potential partners and influencers, building relationships with these people, and then promoting their client’s content to them.

This promotion can take many forms, but it typically includes sending personalized emails or even direct messages on social media.

If doing digital PR, It might also involve writing and sending press releases or pitching story ideas to journalists.

In some cases, an outreach specialist might also be responsible for actually creating the content that they promote. This is more common in small businesses or startups that don’t have a large team of writers and content creators.

Some other common tasks that an outreach specialist might be responsible for include:

  • Identifying opportunities for link building: One of the most common goals of an outreach campaign is to build links back to the client’s website. An outreach specialist will identify opportunities for link building, such as guest posting or broken link building. Even if they don’t handle the prospecting process, they’ll have enough knowledge of the strategy, that they can suggest ideas or can course correct things depending on how outreach goes.
  • Creating and managing a social media presence: In some cases, an outreach specialist may also be responsible for creating and managing the social media accounts for their client. This includes things like post scheduling, profile optimization, and engagement.
  • Managing email campaigns: Email is often a key part of an outreach campaign, and an outreach specialist will be responsible for managing these campaigns. This includes filtering and sorting lists of websites and emails, writing email copy, and sending emails – be it as high touch personalized campaigns, or higher volume bulk email campaigns.
  • Measuring success: One of the most important things that an outreach specialist does is measure the success of their campaign. That is, understanding what efforts are working and which ones aren’t.

Again, these tasks may differ from one outreach specialist to the next, but these are some of the most common responsibilities.

What Skills Does an Outreach Specialist Need?

Outreach specialists need to have great writing skills, be marketing-savvy, and understand the ins and outs of link building and SEO.

Even though they don’t need to be well-connected, they should be able to build relationships quickly and easily.

They need to be able to quickly build rapport with potential partners, editors and niche influencers and then use that relationship to promote their client’s content.

Above all, outreach specialists must dominate the art of communication. The right words, the right tone, and the right message can mean the difference between a potential partner saying yes or no.

Sometimes, the “gift of the gab” can open up doors that would otherwise be shut.

Being concise and clear is also important when reaching out to busy people who might not have the time to read a long message.

Outreach specialists need to be able to get their point across quickly and efficiently while still making a good impression.

Humor and friendliness go a long way in the world of outreach.

People are more likely to respond positively to someone who seems like a real person and not just a faceless entity behind a computer screen.

Of course, being professional is still important, but being able to show some personality can make all the difference.

Some other skills that are important for outreach specialists include:

  • Excellent copywriting and persuasion skills: As we mentioned, outreach specialists need to have great writing skills. This includes being able to write compelling emails that will make recipients want to take action. While the art of writing good templates is part of it, it’s also about customizing the template in a way where it doesn’t look like one!
  • An understanding of SEO: Some understanding of SEO is also important for outreach specialists. This may include things like understanding how to do keyword research for content ideation, or just knowledge of how to make links more impactful, or understanding concepts like internal linking.
  • Project management skills: Outreach campaigns can often involve coordinating with multiple people and moving parts. As such, project management skills are essential for keeping everything on track.
  • An understanding of analytics: Being able to track the results of outreach campaigns is important for showing ROI and proving their worth to stakeholders. A good understanding of analytics will help outreach specialists do just that.
  • PR and marketing experience: Outreach specialists need to have a good understanding of both PR and marketing. This includes things like catching trends in the respective industry, and even knowing how to generate media coverage.
  • Self-motivation: Outreach specialists need to be self-motivated and able to work independently. They should also be able to manage their time effectively and meet deadlines.
  • Technical skills and experience: Outreach specialists should also have some technical skills and experience. This might include things like knowing how to use CRM systems and spreadsheets to track data.
  • Research: The mark of a great outreach specialist is being able to research the target audience’s demographics, interests and behavior – or at least being able to gauge the audience’s behavior from the responses of targets in that sector. That feedback loop will then help inform future outreach campaigns.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of skills, but it should give you an idea of the kinds of skills that are important for outreach specialists.

Know What You Want Before You Start Looking

It’s important to know what you want in an Outreach Specialist before you start looking. Doing so will help you stay focused and avoid hiring someone who isn’t a fit for your company’s unique values and goals.

Here are a few things to consider before you begin:

  • What is your budget? Expected salaries may run higher than hiring a general Marketing or Digital Marketing assistant in your area. However, the costs associated with finding and hiring the right person for the job will pay off over time.
  • What is your timeline? You’ll want to look for someone who can start as soon as possible, but be realistic about the process. Finding the right candidate is more important than getting someone in there quickly. 
  • Where are you hiring? You can find great candidates all over the world, but it may be easier (and cheaper in the long run) to hire someone who is local (although not always possible depending on your local candidate pool.)
  • What kind of personality do you want? Do you want someone who is introverted or extroverted? Someone who is more analytical or creative? Knowing the answer to this question will help you weed out candidates who aren’t a good fit.
  • What are your company’s values? You’ll want to make sure that the person you hire shares your company’s values and can fit into the company culture. 

And, above all, don’t forget your own people skills.

Hiring an Outreach Specialist is not just about checking off a box on your to-do list and getting someone hired.

It’s an important and personal decision that will have an impact on your organization for years to come. You should focus on selecting candidates who are a good fit for your company, and ensure you have the right leadership, support structure and training systems in place for that person to develop further and excel in their role.

At TLG our process for hiring an outreach specialist is very stringent. Just to illustrate how intensive our recruitment funnel is, the graph below shows a period in 2024 where a number of candidates showed interest in an outreach role –  and how the numbers were whittled down until  we made the final hires.

895 arrived on our Outreacher Job Post →

426 then applied and sent to Round 1 →

10 passed Round 1 and were sent to Round 2 →

7 Passed Round 2 and sent to Interview stage →

5 Passed Interview and Shortlisted →

2 Outreachers Hired after Internal Discussions and Reference Checks

How to Hire the Right Person for the Job

Finding the right person for the job can feel like an impossible task, especially when you know you are looking for someone with a very specific skill set and personality traits. Here are a few tips for hiring the right person for the job:

Set Up a Professional Job Posting

The first step in finding the right candidate is to create a professional job posting.

Your job posting should include:

  • The job title
  • A detailed description of the role and responsibilities
  • The required qualifications
  • The location
  • The salary range
  • The shift timings
  • The benefits
  • The company’s values
  • How to apply (include a link to an online application form)

Make sure you proofread your job posting several times before you publish it. You want to make sure that there are no typos or errors, or any room for ambiguity about the role.

You can post your job on your company website, as well as on job boards and social media sites.

Be Specific in Your Job Posting

While you want to stay flexible with your salary and offer, it’s important to be specific. You should mention the salary range, job duties, and qualifications. Avoid posting general job descriptions that anyone can apply for because that will limit your ability to find the right person for the job.

For instance, at TLG we are very specific about what the person will be doing, why they should apply and what we look for. We do this so we can attract candidates who are perhaps in a very early stage of their SEO or link building career (perhaps with no experience.) But, they may see that they have transferable skills they can bring to the role, and that gives them the confidence that they can apply.

Hire for Flexibility.

Someone who is interested in a remote position is more likely to be interested in working with you when you need them to. While you may need your team to work odd hours, this tends to be more conducive to remote roles.

Besides, if you have a remote position, it will open up your applicant pool to people who live in different parts of the world, and you will then have a much larger candidate pool.

If you do require them to work in an office, or in a hybrid role however, just be aware that we are in an age where a lot of top marketing and tech roles are remote. The benefits of a remote/work from home option often outweigh the higher salaries or benefits of an office-based role.

Interview Your Potential Hires

Interviewing your potential hires can be time consuming and difficult, but if you want to hire the right person for the job, it’s worth the effort. Here are some tips for conducting a great interview:

  • Have a list of questions prepared in advance. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you ask all the important questions.
  • Take notes during the interview so you can remember what each candidate said.
  • Ask each candidate the same questions (or at least follow a framework) so you can compare their answers.
  • Ask follow-up questions to get more information from the candidates.
  • Pay attention to the non-verbal cues of the candidates. Do they make eye contact? Are they fidgeting?
  • Be wary of candidates who talk too much or try to take over the interview.
  • Be aware of your own body language. Smile and make eye contact with the candidates.
  • Thank the candidates for their time at the end of the interview.

After you have interviewed all the candidates, compare their answers and shortlist the ones who you think is the best fit for the job.

Reference checks may also come next, which we’ll discuss later.

Look for Candidates with Marketing Experience

Again, you want to hire someone who is flexible and has a willingness to learn new things, but there is an advantage in hiring someone who has experience in marketing.

The ideal candidate will have experience with areas like:

  • Creating and executing marketing campaigns
  • Managing social media accounts
  • Writing and editing blog posts
  • Creating graphics
  • Doing online research

If the candidate has experience in all of these areas, that’s even better. Having an academic background in marketing, while it does offer its advantages, is not going to be a substitute for the practical skills. 

Have a testing and monitoring plan

As you are hiring, you should also be testing and monitoring your potential hires to make sure they are a good fit for the position.

Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Ask your candidates to complete a sample project. This will give you a good idea of what they are capable of and what they can produce.
  • Ask your candidates to complete a personality assessment. This will give you a good idea of their personality and how they would fit in with your company. Platforms like Mercel Mettl are ideal for this.
  • Ask your candidates to complete an online test. You can also ask your candidates to complete an online test. This is a great way to see how your candidates think and how they would tackle certain problems. At TLG we conduct at least 2 rounds of assessments, to ensure we can test the basic competencies required to be successful in a role as an outreach specialist.

Ultimately, you want to make sure that you hire the best person for the job. By taking the time to find the right candidate, you’ll save yourself time and energy in the long run.

Look for experience with specialized tools

Email outreach is all about using the right tools for the right situation. You should look for candidates who are experienced with a variety of tools, such as:

  • Pitchbox / Buzzstream / Mailshake: For semi-automated email outreach and relationship management.
  • Moz, Ahrefs, Semrush: For link building and SEO analysis & research
  • Google Docs/Sheets: For tracking campaign data
  • G-Suite: For extensive manual email outreach, or inbox management.
  • Project management tools (e.g. Clickup Asana. Bitrix24): Most professional setups use a project management tool  of some sort to keep track of tasks and deadlines.

These are just a few of the many specialized tools that outreach specialists use. The more experience your candidates have with these tools, the better.

Of course, you should also make sure that your candidates are familiar with the basics, such as using Microsoft Office, SharePoint and/or Google Docs.

Understand salary expectations

When you’re hiring an outreach specialist, it’s important to understand their salary expectations.

Salary depends on many factors, such as:

  • Location: The cost of living in different parts of the world can vary greatly. As such, salaries will also vary depending on where the outreach specialist is located.
  • Experience: More experienced outreach specialists who have been in the field for several years or have managed large teams, will often command higher salaries than those who are just starting out.
  • Skillset: Outreach specialists with a more diverse skill set will also often command higher salaries. This might include things like SEO strategy, project management, or digital PR experience.

In short, salary is about matching the right candidate with the right budget. When you have a clear understanding of your needs and budget, you’ll be in a better position to find the right outreach specialist for your needs.

5 Red Flags to Watch Out For in Candidates

Poor communication

Whether you’re doing link building in English-speaking markets, or others, communication skills are key. Not only in being able to communicate effectively for that market, but in the day to day communications and ability to communicate with colleagues and stakeholders. 

Poor communication even at a small level, can have a cascade effect on the link building process, and slow down progress. And for even a moderately competitive sector, anything that restricts your inability to acquire links fast enough, will restrict growth.

So watch out for this during the testing phase, and even during interviews and reference checks. Poor communication skills (be it through lack of comprehension or an unwillingness to want to open up and communicate about 

Focus on quantity over quality

Outreach and link building is to some extent, going to be a numbers game. You need to be doing a certain volume of outreach touches, and building a certain amount of links every month. 

But, what you want to avoid is an outreach specialist who only values quantity and volume, over anything else. 

High volume outreach will not be effective if it has no clear direction or angle, or the personalization lacks depth. And, simply building links on low quality sites, or being heavily reliant on low quality paid links, can be a subtle indicator that the person’s outreach is not very effective. 

Weak understanding of outreach channels or strategies

This may not hold as true for candidates with no work experience (if you’re hiring candidates with no experience), but if you are hiring candidates who claim to have prior experience, then you need to test them on their knowledge of outreach and link building tactics to understand their exposure and how much they really know. 

In our experience, we found candidates who may have claimed to have years of experience in the link building sector, building many links every month – but their entire career was based on high volume skyscraper outreach. 

While it looked good in terms of tenures and number of links built in a career span – it wasn’t transferable to other tactics and such candidates could find it hard to adapt to anything which requires more creative, or high-touch outreach tactics. 

Lack of (or unclear) work history

This holds true really for any job role, but this is especially true of link building and outreach roles. There is a large candidate pool in the SEO sector, of freelancers who jump between many gigs or companies, with short tenures. 

What you may find with such candidates is either long gaps between roles, large periods where they only worked as a freelancer without being able to report who they worked with, or just a long list of companies they worked for in the space of a few years. 

While this doesn’t necessarily mean they are a “bad candidate”, it doesn’t often instill a lot of confidence that they will be able to, or interested in staying in one company for a while. So from a recruitment and HR perspective, they will appear to be a very risky hire.

Unethical practices

This won’t always be apparent during the recruitment process, but there are a few things you can look for.

Is the candidate openly sharing campaign information of clients or companies they worked in, without permission? It’s likely if they signed a contract that there would have been NDAs in place, so if you find a candidate too keen to impress and sharing data too openly, this is a definite red flag, whether they are aware of this being unethical or not. 

Embellishing job details, not sharing correct tenures or sharing false references are also things which will become apparent if you do a background check, and reference checks. At TLG, we advise it’s important to get permission from candidates before reaching out to companies, but confidential background checks, or asking candidates for references at a HR or managerial level of previous companies, is a common hiring practice and you’re well within your rights to ask. 

Is It the Right Time To Hire an Outreach Specialist?

At this point, you may be wondering if it’s the right time to hire an outreach specialist.

Here are a few signs that it may not:

  • You don’t have the budget for it: hiring an outreach specialist, or trying to build a team around outreach specialists (along with other roles) can be expensive. If you don’t have the budget for it, you may want to wait until you do.
  • You don’t have enough work for them: if you don’t have enough work for an outreach specialist, they will eventually get bored and their skills will go to waste.
  • You’re not ready to commit: if you’re not ready to commit to hiring an outreach specialist, you may want to wait until you are. Ultimately, you should hire an outreach specialist when you’re ready to commit to the position and can offer them some longevity in their role.
  • You don’t have the infrastructure in place: if you don’t have the right tools and processes in place, an outreach specialist will be frustrated and won’t be able to do their job properly.
  • You don’t have all the necessary processes ready: Who will do prospecting? Who will create content briefs, write them, and send them to other writers? Do you have a budget for this?

You must have at least a loose process before hiring someone.

Trying to load an entire process onto one person, with minimal training, will not only be frustrating for them, but it will also be a recipe for disaster. Your specialist might burn out quickly or produce sub-par work.

In case you don’t have the resources to hire a full-time outreach specialist, you can also work with an agency or consultant. This can be a great way to get started with email outreach without making a long-term commitment.

At TLG, for example, we offer email outreach services that can help you with your link building, and digital PR.

If you’re looking to ramp up your email outreach efforts, but aren’t quite ready to commit to a full-time hire or building an in-house link building team, we might be a good fit for you.

So, why don’t you schedule a free consultation call with us today? We’ll be happy to chat with you about your needs and see if we’re a good fit.