To survive in this competitive, high-tech environment, employers are seeking talented graduates with the right skillset. Discover what you'll need to land a job
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 graduate marketing jobs.
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
- Ipsos MORI
- Kantar Millward Brown
Why work in marketing?
Graduates looking to work in marketing, advertising and PR can expect:
- to be part of a young, dynamic and sociable team, working in a fast-moving, well-paying and highly creative industry
- to join an in-demand sector with the chance to work with the latest digital communications technologies
- 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
- freelance work to be a viable option, particularly in PR, exhibitions and copywriting.
What's it like working in the sector?
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 and creative industry that can sometimes become highly stressful and pressurised;
- salaries to vary greatly depending on the role, region and type of organisation;
- working hours to be between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with longer hours sometimes required;
- freelance work to be an option, particularly in PR, exhibitions and copywriting.
To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see 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 also 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, you may wish to explore the idea of securing a summer internship - as you endeavour to achieve your degree. Already having worked for a business can often work in your favour when it comes to the graduate application process. Explore how to secure a marketing internship or work experience opportunity.
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.
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, public relations (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.
For information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications in marketing, advertising and PR careers, see job profiles. You can also visit Creative Skillset's advertising and marketing communications pages.
This is a dynamic sector that's constantly responding to changing consumer habits. 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.
An integrated strategic approach to digital marketing has meant that many departments and disciplines now work together for a more seamless and holistic customer experience.
Companies advertising across multiple media will typically expect new entrants to already have an understanding of the different techniques, while demonstrating an aptitude for creativity and innovation.
Journalistic skills are also highly regarded, while the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) says there's an emerging desire to integrate marketing with PR. With online interactions relevant to organisations in every sector, reputation management has become a vital aspect of PR.
Analytics has never been more important in this industry. The popularity of social media has created a huge dataset that marketers can utilise to improve analysis of consumer behaviour. Databases are used to better understand segments of the market and move towards direct marketing, helping to build long-term customer relationships. Graduates with numerical and analytical skills who are able to exploit databases are in high demand.
What does the digital skills gap mean for the UK?
Digital skills refer to digital literacy and the ability to confidently use the internet and information technology (IT). In this modern age, it would seem unthinkable that the UK would fall short in this increasingly crucial area that impacts upon all of society.
However, while there's clearly a need to recruit an array of digital marketing, advertising and PR professionals, the government-commissioned Digital Skills for the UK Economy report (January 2016) has served to highlight the nation's skills shortage.
It warned that the digital and creative sector workforce needs to keep pace with advancements - especially with digital technology employment predicted to increase by 6% by 2020. And with growing areas such as email marketing and display advertising found to be wanting in the UK workforce, getting a graduate job in the marketing industry will require the right mix of skills, training and experience.