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students' strategies for managing their consumer goods job search

Get ahead in your FMCG graduate job hunt: tips for 2019

Find out how other students who want to work for FMCG employers are getting ready to apply for jobs, and pick up tips inspired by our infographic based on findings from the Graduate Survey 2018.
FMCG is more competitive to get into than any other graduate career sector, with more than 200 applications per vacancy.

FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) is an exceptionally competitive area for graduates to get into. According to a survey of members of the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) published in September 2018, there were 204 applications for each FMCG graduate vacancy – more applications per graduate vacancy than for any other sector. If you have set your sights on working for a company such as Unilever, P&G or Danone, you’re going to need to do everything you can to stand out as a candidate.

With this in mind, we’ve turned to the Graduate Survey 2018, the largest and most comprehensive investigation of students’ attitudes towards their job hunts in the UK, to compile key information about students who expressed an interest in working for consumer goods employers, and we’ve summarised this in the infographic below. The Graduate Survey is conducted by Trendence UK, a partner of Group GTI which is the parent company of TARGETjobs.

When you’re chasing job opportunities that are also attractive to lots of other candidates, it can be useful to have some insight into what the competition is up to. We’ve compiled five essential tips to help you use the findings in the infographic as a basis for your FMCG career planning:

At a glance: students who are interested in working for consumer goods employers

Whether you’re applying for a place on a FMCG graduate scheme to start in 2019 or are just beginning to think about your career plan, you’ll find it helpful to check out our infographic snapshot of how students who are interested in consumer goods jobs are approaching job hunting.

Compare yourself with your peers in FMCG

Our five tips for students looking for internships and jobs in FMCG

FMCG career tip 1: get an internship

If you’re interested in working in consumer goods, look into applying for a relevant internship in your penultimate or final year.

A significant proportion – 38% – of final year students who expressed an interest in working in this area had undertaken an internship of two months or longer. Just under a quarter (24%) had completed internships in their penultimate years.

If you apply for an internship with a consumer goods company and make a good impression, you could be fast-tracked through part or all of the graduate scheme application process and land yourself a job offer for when you finish your degree.

Is a career in FMCG really what you want, and if so, why? If you were asked that in an interview, could you answer it convincingly? An internship in consumer goods would help you to answer questions about your motivation as well as your skills.

Big consumer goods employers typically offer a range of internships in different business areas. This is your chance to experience working life in an aspect of the industry that interests you and see if it really is what you want to do. Your internship will also give you concrete examples of times when you have used skills such as time management or communication at work that you will then be able to use to showcase your strengths and competencies to employers.

FMCG careers tip 2: make sure you have a good LinkedIn profile

Around four-fifths of students who expressed an interest in working for consumer goods companies have LinkedIn profiles. If you belong to the other one-fifth, this is your cue for a rethink.

Some recruiters actively search LinkedIn for suitable profiles, so having a presence on LinkedIn could make the difference between having no job offers and being headhunted. Your careers service should be able to help you with your LinkedIn profile in much the same way that it offers support with your CV.

Students interested in working for FMCG employers were less likely to use other social media platforms for careers, with between 16% and 20% using Facebook, Google+, Twitter and YouTube. If you’re able to use a range of social media to network and connect with employers, that could help you stand out in comparison to your peers. It’s likely to be particularly important if you’re interested in working in an area such as marketing within consumer goods, where use of social media will be directly relevant.

FMCG careers tip 3: know what size of company you want to work for

Our survey findings suggest that four in ten students who expressed an interest in working for consumer goods employers were willing to consider working for organisations of different sizes. Meanwhile, a quarter of students in this group had set their sights on working for a large international company, while others aspired to find jobs with UK-based companies or smaller businesses. Some students didn’t know what type of company they wanted to work for.

There’s a balance to be struck here between focusing your graduate job hunt and being open to broadening your search. It’s better to do fewer, more focused applications than to take a scattergun approach, particularly as the competition for places on graduate schemes with consumer goods employers is so intense. However, you don’t want to limit your options in a way that reduces your chances. For example, you could broaden your job search by applying to consumer goods companies that own brands you are not familiar with, or that are not household names.

It goes without saying that not having any idea what kind of company you want to work for is probably not a good thing. If possible, don’t be in that 6%.

  • Find out more about graduate schemes with big employers and browse selected deadlines
  • Use our employer hubs to research employers and pick up tailored advice on what they want to see in applications

FMCG careers tip 4: check out our guide to consumer goods starting salaries and pay progression

Sometimes students can be over-optimistic about what they can expect to earn in their first job after graduating. However, our survey findings suggest that undergraduates who want to work in consumer goods have a good idea of the kind of salary they should receive once they have started work in the industry. The students who were surveyed expected to earn £25,488, and the salary range for FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) companies is usually between around £22,000 and £32,000. The pay on offer from big multinational employers is likely to be towards the top of this range.

FMCG careers tip 5: focused on high pay? See how other careers compare

Just over one in five students (21%) who expressed an interest in working for a consumer goods company after graduation said that a high starting salary is ‘very important’ to them.

If that includes you, you might want to explore how graduate starting pay with consumer goods companies compares to the pay on offer from other industries.

Our analysis of the findings of a survey carried out by a membership organisation for employers, the Institute for Student Employers (ISE), gives you some idea of how graduate earnings compare in different sectors. Law and investment banking are traditionally among the highest-paying sectors, and the digital sector, recently included in this survey for the first time, also offered very high stating pay. The FMCG sector was revealed to offer higher starting pay than numerous other popular sectors, including chemicals or pharmaceuticals, engineering or industrial companies and energy, water or utility companies.

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