Talented graduates with the right skillset are needed to combat skills shortages in this fast-paced, exciting sector - so find out how to get into marketing and where your career could take you
What areas of marketing can I work in?
Elements of marketing, advertising and PR exist in most businesses and across all sectors. Employees help clients to connect with their audiences, promoting brands, products and sending messages using a range of techniques. Marketing is the overall process, while advertising and PR are both individual sub-components.
According to Creative Skillset, 153,000 people are employed within the marketing and advertising industry, with graduates making up more than 70% of the workforce. The majority of these opportunities are in the overarching area of marketing, with jobs also available in advertising, PR and event management.
You could choose to work in:
- account management and customer support
- affiliate marketing
- brand management
- campaign metrics and research
- communications and public relations (PR)
- community involvement
- content marketing
- database management and analysis
- direct marketing
- display advertising
- email marketing
- event management
- market research
- media planning
- mobile marketing
- product pricing
- public affairs
- sales promotion
- sales strategy
- search engine marketing (SEM) and pay-per-click (PPC)
- search engine optimisation (SEO)
- social media
- web design and development.
The industry is broadly divided into those who work in-house for an organisation and those who work for an agency. The latter are appointed to provide specific services to paying clients. However, just under a quarter of marketing professionals work on a freelance basis.
Those working in advertising will almost always work for agencies, while those working in PR are often employed by larger organisations.
In terms of geography, Creative Skillset places around half of the sector's workforce in London, although the South East and North West are well-represented as regional creative hubs - the latter boasts MediaCityUK in Salford, home of the BBC, ITV and many specialist agencies.
For examples of specific roles in this sector, see jobs in marketing.
Who are the main graduate employers?
Many employers, from retailers to pharmaceutical firms, offer graduate-level opportunities. Other organisations, including charities, may have vacancies that aren't specifically targeted at graduates.
Companies that are currently running marketing graduate schemes include:
- GSK UK (GlaxoSmithKline)
- P&G (Procter & Gamble)
Well-known digital marketing, advertising and communications agencies include:
- AMV BBDO
- BD Network
- Leo Burnett
- Publicis Worldwide UK
- Saatchi & Saatchi
- We Are Social.
Notable PR consultancies include:
- Brunswick Group
- Cohn & Wolfe
- FleishmanHillard Fishburn
- FTI Consulting
- Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K)
- MSLGROUP UK.
Global names in market research include:
- B2B International
- Growth from Knowledge (GfK)
- Ipsos MORI
- Kantar Millward Brown
Why work in marketing?
Graduates looking to work in marketing, advertising and PR can expect:
- to work primarily in an office, with some travel to visit clients and attend events
- to be part of a young, dynamic and sociable team, working in a fast-moving, well-paying and highly creative industry
- to work in a sometimes highly stressful and pressurised, yet incredibly rewarding environment
- to join an in-demand sector with the chance to work with the latest digital communications technologies
- salaries to vary greatly depending on role, region and type of organisation
- an opportunity to work alongside some of the most popular and recognisable brands
- plenty of career choice and the flexibility to specialise in a particular area or transition into a related field
- freelancing to be a viable option, particularly in PR, exhibitions and copywriting.
To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, search marketing, advertising and PR job profiles.
How do I get a graduate job in marketing, advertising and PR?
This sector is extremely competitive. Vacancies are often open to all graduates with many organisations promoting their opportunities through university careers services and careers fairs.
The following sites have dedicated sections listing jobs in marketing, advertising and PR:
Building up your network of contacts is also very important, as smaller businesses and digital marketing agencies may use informal recruitment practices to find candidates. Check company websites early in the academic year to find information on their marketing graduate schemes.
Creating and maintaining a profile on LinkedIn is another way to find employers and potential work. Many companies advertise graduate opportunities on social media, so ensure that you regularly check the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages of marketing-related organisations that you'd like to work for.
To improve your chances of landing a job with a leading employer, explore the idea of securing a summer internship during your degree. Already having worked for a business is often advantageous when you come to the graduate application process, as you'll already be equipped with marketing skills. Find out more about marketing internships.
You should also consider broadening your horizons to different lines of work, as marketing roles are available in the vast majority of sectors. The Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey 2018 revealed that the happiest sectors for marketers in the UK are gambling and gaming (where 60.7% of respondents reported feeling quite or very happy in their role), followed by the automotive (59.9%) and travel and transportation (58.9%) industries. According to the survey, good career prospects for marketers can also be found in the leisure, education and energy sectors.
Which marketing skills do employers want?
Employers in the creative industries typically seek graduates with:
- a good understanding of digital marketing techniques
- analytical and numerical skills
- commercial awareness
- communication, interpersonal and team-working skills
- creativity, innovation, initiative and imagination
- customer service skills
- negotiation skills
- organisational skills
- the ability to work under pressure
- the confidence to pitch, present and justify your ideas.
How do I get marketing experience?
Marketing is a highly competitive field to break into and many struggle to secure marketing experience. If you can't find any marketing internship or placement opportunities, there are other ways to improve your prospects.
A significant part of many marketing roles - such as advertising copywriter or social media manager - is producing effective copy and campaigns, so in growing your social media presence and building an online portfolio you'll demonstrate the skills and marketing experience that employers are looking for. Find out more about job hunting and social media and how to gain media work experience.
You should also consider taking a proactive approach to your job search - prove your drive and enthusiasm for entering the sector by sending speculative applications to companies you'd like to work for, even if you're just looking into short-term work shadowing opportunities.
Do I need a marketing degree?
Degrees in marketing or related subjects aren't usually necessary, as employers tend to favour particular skills, attributes and any relevant work experience that you've managed to gain. Graduates who've studied courses that require creativity and excellent communication often find that they fit these roles, although digital skills are a must.
However, if you do hold a degree in digital marketing, advertising, PR, media, journalism, communications or event management, this demonstrates interest in the industry, and may prove to be advantageous, as well as aiding career progression.
See marketing courses to discover ways to get your own marketing skills up to scratch.
Alternatively, you could explore what's involved in a marketing apprenticeship.
As technology becomes more sophisticated, companies are investing in new ways - for instance, video and virtual reality - to better understand and communicate with clients.
Offline marketing methods such as radio and print advertising are still used alongside digital technology. However, with an increased number of channels available, modern developments such as social media and mobile devices allow for cheaper and more effective means of delivering brand and product messages to audiences.
Companies advertising across multiple media will typically expect new entrants to already have an understanding of different marketing techniques, while demonstrating an aptitude for creativity and innovation.
A range of skills are welcomed within the marketing industry. Journalistic skills are highly regarded and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) reports an emerging desire to integrate marketing with PR. As analytics has never been more important for understanding consumer behaviour, with databases being used to better understand segments of the market and move towards direct marketing, graduates with numerical and analytical skills are in high demand.
However, the growth of the sector is not without its challenges. It would seem unthinkable that the UK would fall short in the increasingly crucial area of digital skills (the ability to confidently use the internet and IT), but recent government-commissioned reports have revealed that one in ten adults has never used the internet (Office for National Statistics, 2016) and that, with digital technology employment predicted to increase 6% by 2020, the digital and creative sector workforce needs to keep pace with advancements (Digital Skills for the UK Economy, 2016).