An interest in people and a commercial awareness are helpful to begin a graduate career in marketing. These skills are often developed in marketing and social science degrees but if you studied another subject, don’t panic. You can demonstrate these skills in other ways – through part-time work or extra-curricular activities, for example – and many recruiters will be as interested in your potential and aptitude as your experience.
Academic skills from your degree, such as the ability to interpret complex information, solve problems and work to deadlines will help open doors into a marketing career. The following skills are all necessary for a career in marketing.
Interpersonal and communication skills: You will be required to build an understanding of the consumer as well as the needs of the client, and express these to other members of your team and translate these needs into a marketing campaign. As such, good communication skills are vital.
Creativity: Depending on your role, you may be required to write copy for marketing materials and press releases or help with the layout and design of media. On top of this, your work may involve contributing to the ideas stage of planning a campaign. Innovation is likely to be prized as consumers get more media-savvy.
Teamwork: You will be required to work towards a coordinated campaign which may involve many different elements and media. It is essential that account managers, creatives and executives work closely to ensure that the needs of the client are met and the campaign is cohesive and effective.
IT skills: It is essential that you have adequate IT skills as marketing is increasingly conducted through online channels. You must also be able to collate, store and present market data effectively using computer technology.
Commercial awareness: An understanding of the market, consumer wants and needs and the business requirements of the client are essential for success in a marketing role, hence the importance of market research. Trade publications and company press releases, as well as keeping an eye on the financial markets can help build up this knowledge.
Look at the different areas of work to find out more about what specific skills you’ll need for different marketing roles. Sophie Lockard, an online marketing manager at boohoo.com, advises that, in order to enter her field of work: "Graduates will need to show that they are organised, a team player, have good communication skills and can think creatively, and that they have drive, motivation and lots of enthusiasm.'
What skills do you need in public relations?
PR is concerned with the reputation of an organisation or individual: creating it, safeguarding it and potentially promoting products and services as part of this. We spoke to Greg Day, from Greg Day PR, and Karen Myers, director of corporate communications at IPC Media, to find out the skills you need to be a public relations specialist:
- ‘Communication is key, backed up with energy and passion for what you are selling,’ advises Greg. ‘A lot of PR is centred on what you say, so it’s your performance as a communicator that counts.’
- ‘There is some writing involved and plenty of meetings to attend, so you have to be organised,’ says Greg.
- As well as being a top communicator, you’ll need to be resilient enough to cope under pressure – and if things go wrong. Karen explains: ‘You have to be confident and thick-skinned working in PR. You’re responsible for a client’s reputation and if a campaign goes wrong you have to be able to speak to the client and take criticism from the media.’
- Read more advice on how you can get a graduate job in public relations.
Examples of demonstrating public relations skills in your application
Greg suggests that on applications and at interview you’ll need to demonstrate ‘verbal dexterity, the ability to write, social skills and a good imagination.’ He adds that: ‘charm goes a long way, as does knowledge of the brand.’ Researching your employer thoroughly is often the key to success.
You’ve got to show that you have what it takes in your covering letter and CV, but it is equally important to show your confidence and communications skills at interview. Karen suggests that, ‘at the interview stage a lot of candidates lack articulacy, and are far less rehearsed in their presentation skills. You need to walk into the interview with confidence and show that you are adaptable and competent.’
Skills you develop outside your studies are valuable
Skills and contacts built up outside your studies can help you get a foot in the door. Organising events for a society or department, writing newsletters, managing budgets and standing on committees all show the project management skills you’ll need for a job in marketing. Similarly, showing how you developed organisation skills through combining studies, social life and part-time work will help your application.
- For more examples of the marketing and PR skills you can develop through a part-time job click here.
Your own interests can also offer a way into a marketing career. You could consider marketing or publicity roles in specialist organisations if, for example, you’re passionate about sport or music or if you want to continue to build your knowledge of your subject area outside academia. Sports and arts organisations, for example, may value your commitment even if you don’t have marketing experience.
- To find out more about the requirements of a graduate job in marketing, check out our guide to entering the profession.
- Check out our advice on where you can find marketing, advertising and PR jobs for advice and information on the range of employers who hire marketing professionals.
Boost your marketing knowledge with additional study
Another way to improve your chances is to do a professional marketing qualification or a postgraduate course. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) offers an Introductory Certificate in Marketing, which would demonstrate your commitment to prospective employers. This can be followed at a later stage by other qualifications leading to chartered status. The Institute for Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) also offers a variety of qualifications for both graduates and industry professionals ranging from masters and postgraduate degrees to professional diplomas.
- Read more about the benefits of training and professional development for your career in marketing here.
It is possible that, as part of an assessment for a marketing role, you will be asked to undertake some form of psychometric testing. This could happen pre-interview, or even as part of an assessment day. One of the ways to prepare for this is to practice online beforehand.