Have you got your heart set on a career in marketing?

Can’t say we blame you! What more could you want from a career than to work in a lively and innovative industry, the opportunity to travel, and to interact with some of the most dynamic and inspiring people you could ever find. Ours, like many others, is a competitive marketplace to get in to, so it’ll take a lot of dedication and enthusiasm to get a foot in the door – but it will be well worth it. Take a look at these helpful tips and ideas to kick start your career in marketing. And, if you’ve got any suggestions of your own, please email us and we’ll add them to this guide.

Is marketing definitely for you?
You may already be studying for a marketing degree or perhaps you’re just considering whether a marketing career is for you, either way the Getin2marketing site from The Chartered Institute of Marketing aims to give you a good idea of what a job in marketing will be like, the skills you will need and how to go about getting that first break. It’s a good place to get started, and includes information about companies offering Internships and Graduate schemes.

Create your marketing plan for My Dream Job

Think of the process of getting your dream job as if it were a marketing plan.

  • Mission – What is your career purpose? Do you want to work for social good, be a high-earner, max out on fun or run your own business?
  • Current situation – What are your personal strengths and weaknesses and what are the issues and opportunities in the market? Use this analysis to guide you in your choice of target job. What sort of work would give you job satisfaction? Where does your aptitude lie? Which industries are on the up? Which organisations really value their marketing people?
  • Objectives – What is your 10-year goal and what targets must you achieve along the way? Be realistic. Don’t expect to run a huge marketing department or join the company Board of Directors on Day One. But if that is your goal, decide on a good starting point.
  • Strategy – How will you achieve your goal? Do you need to boost your skills in certain areas, get marketing qualifications or get some work experience? Do you need to create a new CV? How will you make sure you know about the latest job opportunities? What will you do to ensure the information you give on job application form really communicates your strengths? How will you help yourself to perform to a high standard in interviews?
  • Evaluation –What milestones will you set so that you can gauge your progress and adjust your plan along the way? Make sure you keep a record of all the job applications you make, follow them up and note the outcome. How much time will you put into research? How many job ads will respond to each week? How many speculative letters will you send out? How many job sites will you register on? Give yourself small rewards for achieving mini-milestones such as creating a great CV or applying for your 50th job. Follow-up interviews to get feedback which you can use next time. And when you are offered that marketing job, make sure you it’s the right one for you.

Stand-out CVs

You need to make sure you stand out from the competition in both qualifications and experience. Before you start on your road to a successful marketing career, you need to make sure that your CV is up-to-date and impressive. Most employers will ask you to send in a CV when you apply for a job, or work experience, and it’s your first chance to make a positive impression. Briefly speaking, your CV needs to include your personal details, work experience, education and qualifications, skills, interests and referee’s details. You don’t need to over-complicate your CV with flourishing descriptions and fancy fonts. Remember, your CV is likely to be seen amongst hundreds of others for some jobs, and although it needs to stand out, don’t make the mistake of putting your employer off. Let your qualifications and experience shine. Have a look at Plain English CVs for some useful advice, or check out this link of a Law student aiming to get into marketing which shows how transferable skills can get you ahead.

Show you are marketing qualified
If you’re serious about a career in marketing, you need a marketing qualification. This could be a marketing degree or one of the vast ranges of qualifications and diplomas available from The Chartered Institute of Marketing. It really depends on where you want to start but The Chartered Institute of Marketing is a good point of contact to get you started. Visit their website or give them a call on 01628 427120. An increasing number of employers either specify that you need to be CIM qualified or will rate your application more highly if you are.

There are other marketing institutes to consider too. Here are some which offer specialist qualifications:

  • Chartered Institute of Public Relations – for PR
  • The IDM – for direct, data and digital marketing
  • The Institute of Promotional Marketing – for sales promotion
  • MRS – for market research

Show that you have relevant work experience
During these tough times work experience is even more important as employers will be searching for the very best candidates to fill their more limited vacancies. Including work experience on your CV can boost your chance of success.

Don’t discount Saturday work or voluntary work. It all helps demonstrate that you are willing to work, reliable and possess a certain amount of get up and go. Try to identify the skills and achievements from past roles which would be useful in your dream job – and put them on your CV.

Consider getting work experience that is directly relevant to you role as this is something employers look for. There are a whole host of work experience and internship opportunities.

Check out these sources to get you started.

Graduate Talent Pool – internships
Of course we all want to be paid for the work we do, but sometimes you have to invest in your career. Being part of the Graduate Talent Pool can help you find an internship to give you real work experience, which will be invaluable in the long run. The Graduate Talent Pool is regularly updated with opportunities, have a look now.

National Council for Work Experience
The National Council for Work Experience (NCWE) promotes and supports quality work experience for students. The NCWE ensures that the days of tea making and filing for work experience students are over! Their structured programmes benefit both you and the employer – it enables companies to complete projects, and gives you invaluable workplace experience. Check it out now.

Get experience before your leave
For students between 16 and 24, have a look at the Campus Group website to find work experience through this marketing agency. They have developed unique access to the market including student brand manager programmes, media, digital, sampling, PR, events, road-shows amongst others, working with clients and agencies across every sector.

Become a volunteer
If you’re up to 25 years old, try Vinspired for a whole host of volunteering programmes, all designed to help your career development. Of course anyone of any age can volunteer. Look at the Do-it website or VSO opportunities – or simply approach an organisation you’d like to help such as a charity. Volunteering looks great on your CV too.

Step – nurturing talent
Step has over 10 years experience in developing some of the UK’s most highly regarded placement programmes. They work with a variety of employers – from small businesses to multinational corporations – all operating across a multitude of sectors. There could be a bright opportunity just waiting for you, have a look at their website to find out about holiday projects, placements or short internships.

Student Gems
Studentgems.com is a nationwide student database of students with skills to offer prospective employers. They can use their developing skills to earn at a higher rate (whilst not charging fully qualified professional level fees), as well as doing the usual student jobs.

Employers use studentgems.com to find students to do websites, logos, photography, translations, research, admin, and many other jobs. Get yourself signed up today.

If you’ve worked but not in marketing – try an interim assignment
Get in touch with a marketing specific agency which has a lot of short-term job opportunities which will allow you to gain marketing work experience. Other Interim agencies include Albemarle and Odgers Interim who focus on other sectors.

Find permanent job opportunities

Looking for a job can be a daunting task. It takes time and dedication. Marketing jobs can be found through a variety of different sources. Here are just some ideas:

  • Graduate training scheme
  • Recruitment agencies
  • Employer’s own recruitment websites
  • Job websites
  • Graduate job fairs
  • National & local press
  • Marketing trade magazines
  • Online networks

Graduate training schemes
Some companies run graduate training schemes. These can either be general management schemes such as those at Mars or specifically for marketers like the ones at Procter & Gamble. Identify your target organisations and then search online to see if they run a graduate scheme.

Recruitment agencies
Many of the best jobs can be found through recruitment agencies. So identify the agencies you need to approach – try those that specialise in marketing jobs or that cover the regions where you want to work.

Take a look at the list of agencies from The Chartered Institute of Marketing which includes long-standing ones like Michael Page and EMR. You’ll find others too if you look in the back pages of marketing trade magazines and if your search online, like Stopgap Marketing who are a recruitment agency which started out placing candidates in short term marketing roles but now handles permanent jobs too. Get in touch and meet up to explain your skills and experience and show why you are the right person for the kind of job you want. It’s a useful practice run for interviews with employers too.

Employer’s recruitment websites
Some large companies, such as BP, Barclays and Marks and Spencer have so many staff that they have their own recruitment websites. They offer lots of information about preparing for interviews, writing CVs and lots more. They are useful to examine even if you’re not after a job with them but just for the information you’ll gather from it.

Search the internet for the organisations you interested in working for. Find their corporate or career website and apply for jobs. Here’s one for the FT

Job websites
There are loads. It is easy to search for jobs, set up job alerts and apply online. But whatever you do you need to manage the information you put out there about yourself. So keep a record of the sites you are using and note the progress you have made with each. And as you add to your experience or qualifications, make sure you update your details.

Marketing jobs: Try simply marketing jobs or only marketing jobs or totally marketing. Or try specialist creative and communication recruitment sites such as www.xchangeteam.com.
Graduate jobs: Or you could try graduate recruitment sites like The Big Choice. It’s a careers information website with online career advice and job searches tailored towards marketing. Have a look.
All kinds of jobs: Plus don’t forget the general jobs websites like monsterand fish4.

There are even niche websites for those who want to focus on one aspect of marketing such as Internal Communication with jobs on the British Association of Communicators in Business website.

Graduate job fairs
Many Universities hold graduate job fairs. Here you get a chance to meet companies and agencies who are looking for the brightest talent. But don’t stop with your own University look out for recruitment fairs being held locally, by individual employers or by marketing trade bodies.

Try the GradJobs website and search for marketing to get details of upcoming exhibitions from . There’s a National Graduate Recruitment Exhibition on 11 & 12 June 2010 Pavilion 1, NEC, Birmingham or 8th & 9th October 2010 at Olympia2, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX.

There are other talent spotting avenues at top universities too, as well as graduate fairs. Ones to Watch is a peer-nominated talent spotting scheme at Britain’s top universities. Each outstanding student who joins Ones to Watch has been nominated by other students at their university for being not just academically gifted but talented in other areas. Could someone nominate you? Have a look at their website to find out more.

National and local press
Check out the recruitment adverts in the national press.

  • The Times
  • The Guardian
  • The Telegraph

If you see marketing jobs advertised by a recruitment agency, don’t just approach them for the job that’s advertised. Get in touch and find out what else they have too.

Also keep in mind looking in your local newspapers, especially if you’re looking for a local marketing job rather than a commute to the City.

Marketing trade magazines
One of the best places to find marketing jobs is in the marketing press. Marketing jobs are usually advertised in communication, PR and marketing publications like:

  • Marketing Week
  • Marketing
  • PR Week
  • New Media Age
  • Campaign
  • Other vacancy sources include The Marketer – The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s magazine , Mad or Brand Republic

And if you want to work in a particular sector like travel, charity or consumer goods – then track down the relevant trade magazine to find jobs there too.

Online networks
Networking is the name of the game, whether it’s trying to build contacts at recruitment fairs, or generating an online profile of yourself on an online network such as Linked In. Here you can connect with people in the marketing arena, and get in contact with people who might be looking for a candidate like you to fill a vacancy. Tell your friends on facebook that you’re looking for a job. And don’t forget that potential employers can also see your online profile so make sure either you protect your privacy or that you’re happy for an employee to see the kinds of things you post online. You can come along to networking events run by marketing bodies too – contact the institute or association for details.

A word about the interview

You’ve got your qualifications; you’ve completed some work experience, applied for a marketing job, and landed an interview – congratulations! To come this far you have done really well, the potential employer is clearly quite impressed with what they see down on paper. Now it’s down to you to sell yourself in an interview room which can be quite nerve racking – but look at it as a challenge that you can win.

The key is to be prepared, swot up on the company and industry that you’re interviewing for, and have examples of your work and experience at the front of your mind so you can nail that marketing job you want.

Here are a few links to interview questions to help get you started. Try Bradley’s CV or Red Goldfish for interview questions to practice on. The University of Kent have marketing specific interview questions that will be useful, as do Simply Marketing Jobs.

And don’t forget to tell everyone you know what you’re looking for. You may be surprised of the job opportunities the people you know get to hear about. If it’s hard to land a permanent role then consider taking a temporary one. If you pick wisely your temporary roles could become permanent. And if you’re a brave sort you could even create your own job by setting up in business.

Good luck with your pursuit of a career in marketing. With determination and the right skills you are sure to be successful.