How to get a job in marketing, advertising and PR
A degree in a subject such as marketing or communications is not necessary to get a job in marketing, advertising or PR, but it may be beneficial. The most common graduate employers are marketing departments within large organisations and dedicated marketing agencies. You are unlikely to get a graduate job or scheme offer if you have not had some relevant work experience.
If you apply to a job or scheme with an organisation's marketing department you must also show an awareness and interest in the industry of the organisation rather than just in marketing. Graduate schemes with advertising, marketing and PR agencies are typically less widely advertised and hire fewer graduates than schemes in other industries.
Do you need work experience/an internship to get a job in marketing, advertising and PR?
Work experience will make your graduate marketing job hunt much easier, as it will show employers that you are seriously considering a career in marketing and have first-hand experience of what this job will involve. It is also an opportunity for you to develop the skills and behaviours that marketing recruiters will want to see in their graduates.
Many marketing agencies and marketing departments within larger organisations will run formal internship schemes. If a agency does not run a formal, structured internship or work experience scheme, you can apply speculatively to enquire about the possibility of informally arranged work experience.
How to prepare for marketing interviews and assessment centres
If your initial application is successful you will most likely be invited to an interview. Marketing focused graduate schemes with larger employers may run assessment centres that include an interview. Interviews are your opportunity to show that you have the skills necessary for a career in marketing. Commercial awareness is particularly important in this sector, so make sure that you have done your research about the employer, its clients and its competitors, and that you are up to date with marketing and advertising industry news.
Graduate jobs vs schemes with marketing agencies and departments
There are many routes into marketing, advertising and PR. Large agencies and organisations that have marketing departments run their own marketing graduate schemes. Throughout the year there will also be a number of graduate jobs with smaller employers; these vacancies can either be advertised or unadvertised.
Unadvertised positions require you to spend speculative applications. This can be an effective way of finding ‘hidden’ job and work experience opportunities. Unadvertised positions are reportedly very common in the marketing sector. However, it would not be advisable to just send speculative applications out to everyone you can think of. Speculative applications need to be treated in a similar way to any other applications. Find out more about sending speculative applications for graduate jobs here.
Applying for graduate marketing jobs
There are a couple of graduate programmes at marketing agencies. However these are less common that graduate schemes where you are able to specialise in an organisation’s marketing department. These may be found with employers that you may not necessarily expect. You can learn more about the places where you can find graduate advertising, marketing and PR jobs, and what the top marketing employers are, here.
Graduate roles in marketing are likely to appear throughout the year and do not follow a strict recruitment timetable.
Perfecting your graduate marketing CV
The application process will vary from role to role, but the majority will likely require a CV and covering letter. Marketing is all about promotion and your application is your opportunity to promote yourself. Your CV should include an overview of your experiences and education, as well as some brief explanation on how this is relevant to the job that you are applying. Your CV needs to be tailored to the specific employer that you are applying for and for marketing.
Writing convincing covering letters for marketing careers
Your covering letter needs to convey to employers why you are suitable for the job you are applying and why you are interested in working for the employer in particular. This is your opportunity to expand on the details that you had previously included in your CV and make the case for why you would be a good addition to the employer.
A creative application and covering letter can make you stand out from the crowd. However, this can be a risky move, as novelty may not be what employers are looking for. For example, you could format your covering letter as a ‘shopping list for a new employee’ or as a ‘letter to Santa’. There was recently a news story about a design graduate who sent a LEGO figure of himself out to prospective employers, which netted him a number of interviews.
Do I need professional qualifications?
A professional qualification can give you the edge in applications. However, employers are likely to favour work experience, and may instead sponsor you through gaining these professional qualifications after you have been employed. Qualifications are offered by organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) and the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM).
Top skills to get a job in marketing, advertising and PR
Marketing, advertising and PR are all about increasing and maintaining the reputation of an organisation, products or services. Find out what skills recruiters are looking for and make sure to highlight them in your applications, your CVs and covering letter:
- Communication is crucial as you will need to communicate the benefits of what you are marketing to consumers. This requires you to have understood the needs of the client and to express it in an effective way.
- Teamwork is important as you will often be working within teams to prepare campaigns. Projects need to be coordinated so that the different areas of marketing (such as digital, direct and media planning) work together cohesively.
- Commercial awareness: marketers need a strong understanding of the market of the thing they are marketing so as to make the most effective campaign possible. Market research is a key component of this. Understanding the industry of the client and the nature of the consumers is also part of this.
- Creativity: depending on your role you may be able to use creative skills to help realise campaigns. This can be through writing copy, designing graphics or websites, producing video or composing marketing tweets and status updates.
- Organisational skills are beneficial as you may be working on more than one project at the same time.
- Find out more about the skills that will get you a job in marketing.
These skills do not have to be developed directly through marketing work experience; you will gain a whole host of transferable skills through extracurricular activities and part-time work. If you are heading to university this year, think about what you could be doing alongside your degree to gain the skills that marketing recruiters want to see.
Read this article to find out which part-time jobs you could be doing to develop your marketing and PR skills.
What's the difference between marketing, advertising and PR?
Marketing involves the promotion of products or services for a client or organisation. Advertising and PR can be considered aspects of marketing, but are distinct enough to have separate entry-level routes.
Find out how you can get a graduate marketing job.
Advertising incorporates all aspects of the process of creating and distributing adverts for the purpose of increasing the consumers' awareness of a client. You may be involved with buying space for these adverts or in the creation of the adverts themselves.
Read more about how to get a graduate role in advertising.
PR or public relations roles are responsible for maintaining the reputation of a client. This can be through networking, communicating with the press or handling enquiries. Strong relationship-building and maintenance skills are crucial.
See entry-level routes into PR.
What is it like to work in marketing?
Marketing is a fast-paced and creative industry and can involve attending events, networking and travelling outside of the standard nine-to-five working day.
- You will often be working in a team.
- Working for an agency may offer you more creativity and control over your campaigns than working for an organisation. However, as you will be pitching for work can be competitive and stressful at times.
- Networking is a major part of marketing and can be used to increase your commercial awareness and gain leads on new projects.
- Meeting the wants and requirements of clients and consumers can be challenging, but seeing your campaigns in action can be satisfying. Projects are evaluated to gauge their success, so you will be able to clearly see how effective your work has been.
Marketing encompasses a great variety of different areas of work, ranging from conference management and digital marketing to media planning and client relationship management.
Find out more about the different marketing areas of work here.