Finding a job in 2021 may be more difficult than in previous years; many employers have altered (or, in some cases, paused entirely) their graduate hiring plans as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. With fewer jobs available, it’s also likely that a greater number of candidates will be applying for each of these jobs, especially at the largest agencies and marketing companies. The truth is that, even in normal times, there are relatively few entry-level jobs available in marketing, advertising and PR, especialy when compared to professions such as finance and engineering.
However, it’s important to remember that there are still jobs out there and, even if you are unable to secure a marketing graduate job right away, there are ways that you can gain marketing-related experience and skills.
- You can develop your marketing skills through part-time jobs and extracurricular activities and try your hand at these career-friendly activities you can do while social distancing.
- Find out more about how to handle job applications and interviews during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Worried you might not get a job straight away due to the pandemic? Read our advice on how you can fill the coronavirus-shaped gap on your CV.
Follow these three steps to help you find marketing graduate job opportunities in ways and places that you may not initially have considered:
1. Look at jobs and schemes outside of the marketing sector
There are a lot of industries that need to promote their products and services to specific audiences. Many large employers will have their own marketing departments, some even run dedicated marketing graduate schemes or more general commercial graduate schemes with marketing streams or rotations.
Each year, the UK 300 conducts a survey to find out the most popular graduate employer with students. To find out the top graduate employers where you could start your marketing career, you could start your search with the following ranking lists:
- UK 300: top media and advertising employers
- UK 300: top consumer goods (manufacturing and marketing) employers.
The full list of the top 300 employers can be found on The UK 300 page. Other employers in the top 300 may also advertise marketing schemes or ad hoc graduate vacancies. If you apply for a vacancy like this, it is important not only to prove your interest in marketing, but also your interest in the industry. For example, you can bet that GSK will ask: ‘So, why do you want to work in the pharmaceuticals business?’ Knowing what you’re talking about, and being enthusiastic to boot, will be a massive point in your favour.
2. Don’t wait for opportunities; go out and find them yourself
There are loads of estimates about the number of unadvertised jobs that are out there (some say as much as 50% of jobs in the marketing sector are not widely advertised). Whatever the actual number, it’s worth knowing that there are vacancies which don’t get a whole lot of publicity. It’s up to you to make speculative applications directly to employers.
The good thing about making speculative applications is that it really lets you show off your skills. You need to be bold, enticing, and willing to show off your unique selling points (USPs). Even if it doesn’t lead to an interview straight away, it can be a way to build up your contacts. They might be willing to keep your CV on record if a vacancy does come up.
3. Get enough experience to compete
As soon as you know you want to apply for marketing entry-level jobs, it is best to seek out experience within the industry. The good news is that this can take many forms. Obviously, a year in industry with a well-known company is the holy grail of work experience, but if that’s not an option, a couple of weeks here and there will definitely help. Some companies do run in-house internships, but you may also have to apply speculatively for work experience.
Be warned: the pay for work experience and internships can vary, including some work experience only reimbursing you for expenses. It’s important that you know your rights when it comes to unpaid internships so you can make an informed decision as to whether work experience is ‘worth it’.
Volunteering for a charity, perhaps even getting to run their social media accounts, is another popular way to gain experience.
You may also choose to study a postgraduate qualification or course, either to gain more skills and knowledge or to try and enter a more settled jobs market. As well as giving you experience and evidence of your interest in marketing, these opportunities will also provide you with industry-specific knowledge that you may not already have, especially if marketing was a fairly late-game career decision for you.