How to Get a Graduate Job in Marketing

There are various marketing roles that a graduate can do, not just in physical marketing, but in digital and social media marketing as well.
Ivy Simon
Editorial Writer
There are various marketing roles that a graduate can do, not just in physical marketing, but in digital and social media marketing as well.

Marketing is the process of promoting an organisation's products or services. It occurs in all industries, whether in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors. You could be employed by a company or an agency, either directly in a dedicated marketing team or in conjunction with a larger PR or communications department. 

There was a slight gap between what is now known as digital marketing (marketing conducted online and through social media) and traditional marketing (offline marketing through print and broadcast media, events, etc.) a few years ago. However, the lines between both of these categories are now very blurred.  As such, graduates in marketing roles can find themselves doing work that covers both online and offline channels.

Excellent negotiation and people skills, as well as an analytical and strategic mind are required to get a product/service marketed in the best way possible. It's crucial to comprehend your customer base and what they want or need, as well as cultivate positive interactions with suppliers and external marketing partners.

Degree subjects needed for a marketing job

Having a degree in marketing or communications is an advantage, but is not required. A job in marketing can still benefit from the skillsets that come from a variety of degree programmes, such as business and journalism, or even languages and the fine arts. 

A degree in a numerical or technical subject may be an advantage if you want to work in data-driven marketing, because you must be good at working with and analysing data, and perhaps generating statistical models for market research purposes.

How to get a graduate job in marketing?

1.Apply for an entry-level job or advertised graduate programme

Every consumer-facing organisation needs a marketing team, and many larger companies offer graduate programmes. These programmes can be either dedicated standalone marketing programmes, or include a marketing placement as part of a larger rotation curriculum. 

Smaller employers usually fill specific entry-level marketing vacancies as they come. Pay attention to positions on job portals or company sites with names like "marketing assistant," "marketing executive," "marketing coordinator," "events executive," or "digital marketer," as they are more likely to be entry-level positions. 

2.Apply speculatively

Applying speculatively involves contacting an employer that isn't currently advertising a position to see whether they might be able to provide you a job or, in the event that they can't, some work experience. Typically, you do this by emailing your resume together with a customised cover letter that briefly outlines your job objectives, your potential contributions to the organisation, and your reasons for wanting to work there. 

This is usually a better approach for smaller employers or agencies – the latter being more selective about whom they hire and will usually reward initiative. Make sure you thoroughly research the organisation before shooting your shot. 

Career fairs and other networking events might help you establish contacts and find “hidden” job opportunities. Social media, particularly LinkedIn, can be used to connect with industry professionals and the organisations they work for. That said, in this line of work, it's important that you establish your personal brand on every social media platform you use.

3.Go into marketing later in your career

Graduates frequently begin their careers in another field before transitioning into marketing, especially when the employment market is competitive. Working in sales, sales administration, customer service, or a related field first and then using that experience to strengthen your application for a future marketing job is one way to go about it. 

Another option is to begin working for a company in one position (e.g. in customer service or sales coordination) and then, after some time and suitably impressing your co-workers, indicate an interest in switching to the marketing team. An employer will try to work with you if they like you and their needs can be met.

However, it's important to keep in mind that making a sideways shift isn't always a safe approach to break into the marketing industry! So you'd be better off trying other alternatives first.

Is marketing a good career?

Because there are many open positions for marketing across a wide range of industries, the working environment at your chosen employer will ultimately determine whether marketing is a good job for you. 

However, there are some constant experiences you can expect in marketing no matter where you work. For instance: 

  • Working hours usually stick to the standard 8-hour workday. But if you have to attend events, be on the road, or are at the tail end of a project, you can find yourself working longer. 
  • There are numerous chances to travel both domestically and overseas. 
  • This sector places a lot of emphasis on networking, so you might find that your professional and social lives will merge over time. 
  • It can be fulfilling when the outcomes of your job are typically observable, quantifiable, and measurable. 
  • Keeping everyone content might be difficult, but it can also be exhilarating. You will have to deal with the competing needs of customers, colleagues, and suppliers, which means you'll constantly need to build practical strategies to balance a variety of perspectives.
  • To be at the top of your field, you must never stop learning. The finest marketing strategies are "out in front" of market trends before they manifest. Therefore, you need to be very knowledgeable about current market trends and be able to anticipate upcoming ones. 

Although working in a field that moves so quickly can be challenging, people who thrive in fast-paced working environments and enjoy experimenting with new ideas do enjoy it.

Marketing agency or marketing department? Which is better?

In a marketing agency, you can expect a greater diversity of work, but more pressure to succeed. Yes, the client can't stop by your desk every hour to see how things are going, but because they are paying for your services as an external contractor, they will demand far more from you. 

Agencies do have the right to pick and choose which clients they want to service, so they could reject clients who are unreasonable or don’t offer suitably interesting work. However, they need a constant stream of successful campaigns to attract and retain clients, and that pressure will transfer to you. If an agency fails to drum up enough business, your job security may be at risk as well.

Working for a company’s internal marketing department will require you to be more focused and your output to be more consistent as you attend to the needs of the organisation. You might end up doing the same things year after year, but this comes in exchange for greater job security.

You will, however, develop a more nuanced and in-depth understanding of the business and its promotional needs over time. This will give you the foundation you need to keep incrementally improving and innovating on the marketing work you do – something you may not get in agencies, which have a more hit-and-run working style.

Ultimately, the choice depends on what your professional priorities are and what sort of working culture your prospective employer has to offer. Though it is also worth noting that many marketing professionals in agencies often get poached for internal marketing positions at some point in their career. So crossing over from one to the other is not out of the question, regardless of where you start.