Graduate jobs in consumer goods and FMCG
How to get a graduate job in FMCG
Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies typically sell large quantities of relatively low-cost products that customers buy on a regular basis, such as cleaning products, toiletries, cosmetics and confectionery. Consumer goods tend to be manufactured in high volumes and transported to the shops via extensive distribution networks. Big FMCG companies typically offer a range of internships and graduate schemes in areas such as marketing, supply chain, finance, engineering and research and development, so they will recruit graduates from a range of degree backgrounds onto their training programmes.
Recruiters in this area tend to look for graduates who have at least a 2.1, and relevant subjects are required in technical areas such as engineering. You can find out more about qualification requirements for FMCG graduate schemes, including A level requirements, from our advice on how to get a graduate job in consumer goods.
If you've done an internship with a consumer goods employer, you'll have had a chance to get to grips with what it is really like working in this area. Any work experience that has helped you develop relevant skills will help you to convince recruiters that you'd be a successful hire - for example, if you're applying for a management graduate scheme, you could use examples from a part-time job in retail to show your commercial awareness.
Why go for a graduate scheme with an FMCG employer?
The consumer goods industry is dominated by big, market-leading companies that tend to be responsible for numerous household-name brands. These employers tend to recruit graduates onto structured training schemes that offer relevant professional qualifications. According to a 2016 survey of members of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), which represents many multinational businesses that recruit large numbers of graduates, the average starting salary for a graduate recruit working in FMCG was £29,000; only banking and financial services employers, law firms, investment banks and the public sector offered higher starting pay. Graduates may also find jobs with smaller consumer goods companies, such as start-ups.
Top skills to get a job in consumer goods FMCG employers seek to recruit graduates who are:
- Team players who have the potential to lead
- Capable of innovation and taking a creative approach to business development
- Problem solving - you need to be able to respond quickly and decisively to difficulties
- Commercially aware
- Sensitive to environmental impact of activities such as manufacturing and distributing products
- Well organised, and know how to prioritise
- Strong communicators capable of negotiation and persuasion
Language skills, a global outlook and a willingness to relocate could also help you get a place on a graduate scheme, as consumer goods companies seek to increase their presence in developing markets. Recruiters could also look for evidence of commitment to the industry and enthusiasm about their products. Extracurricular activities and work experience will help you to demonstrate that you have relevant skills. You'll also need to research both the employer you are targeting and the competition - and make sure you don’t muddle up their flagship products!
Can you get a job with a FMCG company from any degree background?
Degree requirements vary depending on the graduate programme you apply for, as different specialisms need recruits with different expertise.
The more technical graduate schemes, such as engineering programmes, tend to focus their recruitment on candidates from specific degree backgrounds. However, some technical programmes have broader degree requirements than others. For example, food science and technology graduates may be eligible to apply for training schemes specialising in production.
Our advice on graduate careers in manufacturing and engineering in FMCG gives more advice on requirements and what to expect from a career in this area.
FMCG graduate schemes in the following areas are typically open to graduates from all degree backgrounds:
- Management programmes, though you'll need to demonstrate that you are numerate
- Financial management programmes – applicants should be sufficiently comfortable with numbers to cope with an accountancy qualification
- Marketing programmes – You may be able to apply for graduate supply chain roles if you don’t have an engineering or science background, but you'll need to demonstrate sound commercial awareness, an analytical approach and good problem solving skills.
Beware the competition!
You're likely to face stiff competition for graduate roles with big FMCG companies. According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters membership survey published in October 2016, consumer goods employers received more applications per vacancy that year than investment banks or IT companies. Only transport and logistics companies and retail companies received more.