Marketing, advertising and PR: career FAQs

Graduate careers in marketing, advertising and PR: getting a job, applications, working life and salaries.

How can I get a job in marketing, advertising and PR?

While some large recruiters offer marketing roles as part of their graduate scheme, this is an area where working for a smaller company is often the best route in. Smaller employers with in-house marketing departments tend not to offer graduate roles but recruit into their marketing departments as needed. Look for jobs advertised with the job title of ‘marketing assistant’, ‘marketing executive’ or ‘adverting executive’. Entry-level positions are also available at marketing agencies for those with the right skills.

Getting a job in a marketing assistant role will give you a foot in the door and on-the-job training. Not all these jobs are advertised so be prepared to send a speculative cover letter and CV to companies that interest you.

Specialist recruitment agencies can help you find your way into this sector, especially if you’re willing to temp or work on short contracts.

Remember these are relatively small industries so competition can be fierce. The advice from recruiters is to get as much experience as you can. Internships are rare in this sector but there are other options available. These include:

  • Extra-curricular work at university: Many university societies put on events that need publicising, and this is a great way to get hands-one experience.
  • Part-time work during university: Look for work in a direct marketing role or in advertising, PR or event management.
  • Work shadowing : This allows you to observe the work of a (usually senior) professional and to talk to the person about their work. Ask family and friends whether they know someone working in this sector who will allow you to work shadow them.

What’s involved in the application process?

Graduate programmes will follow the usual application process of application forms along with CVs and covering letters. Smaller marketing agencies may not always advertise their vacancies so speculative applications can be the best bet.

When should I apply?

Graduate schemes usually have fixed deadlines so watch out for closing dates during your final year. Other roles will come up as and when staff are required so you need to be eagle-eyed.

It’s important that you perform well at interview as this is evidence of your ability to ‘sell’ yourself, much as you will be expected to do with the products, organisations or individuals you’ll be working with.

What qualifications and skills do I need to work in marketing, advertising and PR?

For all these jobs, you’ll need:

  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Teamwork
  • IT skills
  • Commercial awareness.

Other entry requirements will depend on the particular job. Vacancies will often not specify a degree subject, instead requiring that you demonstrate the necessary skills in your application.

Postgraduate and professional qualifications are available in these industries and may give you an advantage in what can be a competitive industry. Work experience is really important within the sector and can be a great way to break in. Your careers service may be able to help you in finding a placement.

What are the salaries in marketing, advertising and PR?

Like many creative sectors, these jobs may not pay well to begin with, but can be rewarding for those with experience.

What is working life like?

Working hours will often be the standard nine-to-five though you may find yourself working longer if attending events or close to the end of a project. Networking is a big part of the industry so it may be increasingly difficult to separate your working and social lives. The work can be stressful at times, particularly close to deadlines, but seeing a campaign come to fruition can be very rewarding.

PR and advertising roles have a reputation for being glamorous and fun – and this is very much a ‘people’ industry – but they can also involve hard work: coming up with ideas and trying to sell those ideas to other people. Things might not always go to plan so you need to be thick skinned.

What are the opportunities for career development?

There are many opportunities for career development in these sectors. For example, an advertising account executive will generally progress to an account manager after one to two years, then to account director after three or four years. A marketing executive can be promoted to a marketing manager after three to five years, and then to marketing director.

Professional qualifications or postgraduate qualification will increase your chances of promotion as this area of work becomes increasingly competitive. Further qualifications are becoming a prerequisite for more senior marketing positions.

Some employers may offer financial support or study leave. Professional bodies can help with short training courses, information sessions, certificates or diplomas as well as postgraduate qualifications.