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How do I get a graduate job in marketing?

All the information you need to get started on a graduate career in marketing. With application tips, details of job roles and salary information, this is the place to begin your search for graduate jobs in marketing.

How to get a graduate job in marketing: Getting a job | Working life | Agency or department | Job roles | Professional qualifications | Graduate employers

Marketing is all about promoting the goods or services of an organisation and takes place in all areas of industry. In order to get a product promoted in the best way possible, excellent negotiation and people skills are necessity, as well as a sharp mind for numbers and strategy. It’s important to have an understanding of consumers and build up good relationships with suppliers and clients.

Jobs are open to graduates of any degree, though a qualification in marketing or communications may give you an advantage. You may work for an agency or in-house, either as part of a dedicated department or allied to the PR or communications department.

Getting a graduate job in marketing

Every consumer-facing company needs a marketing team and many of the larger businesses recruit from graduate programmes – either as a dedicated marketing stream as part of their graduate scheme, or a marketing placement as part of their rotations. Media companies, retailers and fast-moving consumer goods companies (FMCGs), such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever, all hire at different levels and intake rates.

You do not need to specifically have a marketing related degree to work in marketing. There are a number of different degrees disciplines that would provide skills for a marketing career. Sophie Lockard, the online marketing manager at boohoo.com, says: 'Within our marketing team we've had people from a range of degree backgrounds, including businesses, languages and journalism. I did business at university as I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do. It was a great course and gave me an insight into business in its entirety, which I think has been really useful.'

Smaller companies may occasionally offer marketing assistant roles. They are less likely to have a structured scheme but will provide on-the-job training to enable you to build the practical skills required.

Speculative applications can be a good way in, particularly to smaller companies, but ensure you have researched the organisation well and expressed your skills and abilities through your CV and covering letter. Careers fairs and other networking events can be a good way of finding contacts and help you get into a role Specialist recruitment agencies can be very helpful – they will often have short contract jobs available which can be useful for building up experience..

Many graduates enter the sector through roles in related industries such as sales, market research, PR or advertising. Before you start sending out applications, it's best to work out in which industry, role and company you intend to work. Find out more about writing a CV and writing a covering letter for graduate marketing jobs. You may also be asked to undertake an aptitude test. Click here to find practice tests and more to help you out.

What’s the working life like?

  • Working hours will often be the standard nine-to-five though you may find yourself working longer if attending events or close to the end of a project.
  • There are often opportunities for travel, both in the UK and abroad.
  • Networking is a big part of the industry and you may end up combining your working and social lives.
  • Seeing the results on billboards can be hugely satisfying and provide a fulfilment that is lacking elsewhere.
  • Keeping everyone happy can be a challenge but can also be quite exciting.
  • Such a fast-paced industry can also be a challenge, but one that some people relish.
  • Read this article for more details about what a graduate marketing career can involve.

The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) suggests that the average starting salary for marketing roles is a very reasonable £22,000, though this may differ considerably if you are employed within the marketing department of a business that operates in a different sector. Salaries of £50,000 and beyond are not unknown for senior roles.

Marketing agency or marketing department?

Agencies are typically a freer, if more high-pressured environment. The client cannot walk over to your desk every hour to check your progress, but there is more riding on success. There is more variety available, and a stronger sense of teamwork. You can gripe to each other about the client because you won’t be working for them forever.

Working in-house will mean that you are quite focused and work tends to be consistent; responding to the needs of the business. However, you may find yourself performing the same tasks year after year. What’s more, there will be company politics to deal with. On the plus side, you will know the company more intimately, and be better positioned to answer its needs. Sophie discusses the benefits of working in-house on a product that you are invested in: 'When you're inspired by the product you're marketing it naturally makes you more passionate about what you do and helps drive success for the company and your own career.'

What are the different graduate marketing job roles?

Roles in marketing differ greatly depending on their nature. Sophie advises, 'entry level roles depend on the company, but generally, graduates can apply to graduate or assistant roles or internships across businesses. There are all sorts of careers you can move into, including marketing, e-commerce, buying, merchandising, studio design and more.'

Account manager and brand manager: graduate marketing role

Account managers will be in close contact with clients and will pass on their requirements to the other members of the team working on the project.

Brand marketing is more suited to graduates who are less inclined to management and economics. A brand manager ensures that all designs and usage of a brand are consistent wherever they are displayed; eventually working to make sure that the brand develops and changes in line with the business and the market.

Marketing assistant: graduate marketing role

Marketing assistants will help them with this.

Marketing creatives: graduate marketing roles

Marketing creatives will be involved in writing the copy for campaigns and advertising or producing artwork and graphics to the client requirements set out by the account manager.

Marketing account executive: graduate marketing role

A marketing executive position is the role which many of the larger graduate schemes will train you for. Account executives are involved in the entire lifespan of a product including:

  • research
  • packaging and design
  • advertising
  • promotion and public relations

You may be trusted with a significant amount of responsibility of early on in your careers, as you will also be concerned with developing client-led sales strategies, attracting new clients and evaluating the performance of campaigns.

Common employers are FMCG companies that regularly need to alter existing product marketing or establish new products in the market. Most chains and franchises have a brand whether they develop new products or not – check major retailers, hospitality providers and manufacturers when applying for jobs. Salaries can reach £35,000 or more once you make senior executive – and this is not the top of the ladder.

Market research (agency): graduate marketing role

Market research executives may require more academic grounding than the role of marketing account executive. A background in business, economics or the social sciences may be useful, as well a good level of commercial awareness.Responsibilities include:

  • collating information
  • liaising with agencies and clients
  • commissioning research according to the company's needs

There are several major market research companies out there that are willing to take on graduates. They range from small marketing agencies, pharmaceutical companies and FMCGs up to a major players like market research agency Ipsos MORI, which conducts work for the government.

As a general rule, the work is split between qualitative research, conducting face-to-dace interviews etc, and quantitative research, number crunching.

Because of the technical nature of the work, some of the larger employers require at least a 2.1 degree in any field before making an application.

Do I need professional qualifications to get a job in marketing?

As with many other career sectors it is more and more common for employers to look for candidates with industry-specific qualifications. In marketing, these can be obtained from:

  • the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
  • the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM)
  • the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM)

If you're lucky enough to make it on to one of the major graduate schemes, you may find that your employer will finance professional or postgraduate qualifications as part of your training programme. Further details on postgraduate marketing qualifications can be found at TARGETpostgrad.

Graduate employers in marketing

Here are some of the employers that recruit graduates annually. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it does provide a good snapshot of what's out there to help you get started. You can search for more marketing graduate job opportunities here.

  • E.ON, the power and gas company, offers a two-year marketing graduate scheme for graduates with at least a 2.1. You can choose either a general marketing or analytical marketing route. The generalist route is open to graduates with a marketing or business-related degree and a numerate degree is required for analytical marketing. The scheme can include an international placement.
  • L'Oreal is a French cosmetics and beauty company. It runs a management trainee scheme which can include a marketing rotation. Work for marketing trainees includes coordinating product launches, designing promotional materials and writing new product concepts. Applications are made online.
  • Sky, the broadcasting, broadband and telephone services company, offers a marketing graduate scheme. The programme is open to graduates from any degree discipline. The marketing scheme consists of four six-month rotations which include commercial awareness, strategy and brand marketing.
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