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, salary information and details of job roles.

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

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 a 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) 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. However, recruiters have previously told TARGETjobs that degrees in business, journalism or languages can be particularly relevant to careers in marketing. If you want to work in data-driven marketing, a degree in mathematics or a technical discipline may also be 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. Specialist recruitment agencies can be very helpful – they will often have short contract jobs available which can be useful for building up experience.

Careers fairs and other networking events can be a good way of finding contacts and help you get into a role. During the coronavirus pandemic it’s likely that these events will be run virtually. Networking has also moved online , and you can get in touch with marketing professionals and build your personal brand via social media.

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 fast-paced and rewarding work of marketing professionals is likely to be able to continue without too much disruption during the coronavirus pandemic. However, opportunities for travel, networking and attending events will probably be replaced with online alternatives or scaled back considerably.

According to a 2020 report carried out be recruiting company Hays, the average salary for marketing assistants ranged from £18,000 in Yorkshire to £25,000 in London. Average salaries tended to be higher for more specialised roles in events, insights or data; for example, social media executives in London earned an average of £32,000 and events executive in London an average of £35,000. However keep in mind that this is an average taken from the survey’s respondents. So this may differ considerably from what you encounter, especially if you are employed within the marketing department of a business that operates in a different sector. More senior marketing roles could have salaries of upwards of £50,000.

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.

What are the different graduate marketing job roles?

Roles in marketing differ greatly depending on their nature. Entry level roles depend on the company you are applying for, but generally, graduates can apply to graduate or assistant roles or internships across businesses. Graduates can then choose to specialise into a more specific area of marketing, such as e-commerce, brand and product, merchandising, studio design, events 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.

Social media marketing: graduate marketing role

Social media marketing managers use social media platforms (such as Facebook and Twitter) to promote brands and products. This involves planning campaigns (including what platforms to use and who to target), creative material (such as imagery and videos) for the promotion, allocation of budgets for paid promotion and analysing the performance of the campaign using data and analytics.

Companies may hire a team of ‘in-house’ of social media marketers or you may find work at an agency that specialises in social media marketing. Entry level roles are typically called ‘social media executive’ or ‘social marketing assistant’.

Digital and data marketing: graduate marketing role

Data-driven marketing is marketing that uses the insights and data collected about people to better market products and services to them. There are many different types of data or digital marketing: engineers are needed to build systems to collect and use data, data scientists and analysts are needed to analyse collected data and formulate valuable insights and planners are needed to figure out ways for this data to be used.

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-face 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 when making experienced hires; for graduate roles, these could be advantageous but not always required. Professional qualifications in marketing can be gained from:

  • the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
  • the Institute of Sales Management (ISM)
  • the Institute of Data and Marketing (IDM)

If you 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.

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