How to get a job in marketing

Guest post from Nicola Mongon, Spotlight Recruitment.








Is it possible to get work experience of marketing while I’m studying?

Absolutely! Internships are an excellent way to get more experience, learn about the scope of a role, and demonstrate interest and commitment to future employers. Unless you are volunteering for a charity, you should expect to earn at least the minimum wage. It’s possible to undertake a part-time internship, however most internships will be full-time, so the best time to undertake work experience is during the summer holidays.


Do you recommend contacting employers directly for potential vacancies despite them not having advertised a job role? If so, do you recommend a particular method of contacting them initially?

Email is usually the fastest and most efficient way to get their attention and, yes, it is a good idea to contact employers directly. Larger companies may run recruitment programmes for internships or graduate programmes, but smaller companies may rely on word-of-mouth or use a recruitment agency to hire graduates. The most sensible way to do things after graduating is  using a combination of direct applications to specific companies that appeal, looking for job adverts online, and using specialist recruitment agencies to represent you.


I’ve heard people talk about “marketing”, but I’m not sure what type of roles it actually refers to?

“Marketing” refers to the action of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. In terms of a role, this could be anything from a marketing manager, to a head of direct marketing, to a social media assistant. It is important to understand the different areas before applying so you can discuss roles articulately, demonstrating previous research and in-depth understanding.


Can you get into marketing without a marketing degree?

Absolutely; a degree does not always guarantee a role. Internships, part-time work while studying, and an application at the right time to the right company can all play a part! Make sure your CV is absolutely word-perfect: this should be a standard rule of thumb, but if you want to work in marketing it is essential to represent yourself as a professional who delivers high standards of work.


What is the best way to find out about internships?

There are specific websites dedicated to the hire of interns. Be advised that in many cases interns are entitled to the minimum wage, see for more information.



Is there a job site dedicated to marketing jobs?

Yes, there are numerous job sites dedicated to marketing roles. Time and dedication is required for online searching and the application process.


What is the current and predicted job market like for marketing?

The job market can have seasonal fluctuations, but we find the marketing sector is extremely buoyant and we run extremely busy permanent and temporary divisions with a team of specialist consultants to support our clients. Companies often increase marketing spend in times of economic uncertainty and since 2008 we have seen the landscape grow and develop with the continued development of digital marketing and social media.


What should I be doing while studying to make me stand out from the other applicants following graduation?

  • Develop a word-perfect, tailored CV, and cover letter if necessary
  • Make sure you build good relationships with recruiters and agencies to support you during the search
  • Try to gain experience and internships while studying in your chosen field
  • Don’t get disheartened with rejection, invest time and energy into the process
  • Make sure your interview style, both phone and face-to-face is strong.



How far ahead of graduation should I start contacting potential employers?

For graduate schemes you need to apply in ample time with regards to their hiring dates. For general recruitment I would start applying about three months in advance, but bear in mind some roles are to start immediately- it all depends on the specific needs of the role.


Pathway from rejection to acceptance


Whether it’s being picked last during P.E. at school, watching as your new puppy runs into your brother’s arms rather than yours, or getting those four big red Xs on Britain’s Got Talent, we have all had to deal with rejection at some point.

When it comes to job applications, rejection can be difficult, especially when you have spent hours deliberating about what exactly they mean by ‘IT literate’. Unfortunately it happens to most of us at some point. So what follows is a pathway on how to turn that rejection into success!

(You can also always sneak a few dog biscuits into your pocket next time you’re in competition with your brother.)


‘We regret to inform you but on this occasion you haven’t been successful’

The phone call arrives a few days after the interview. You listen for signs in the employer’s voice as to the outcome, hoping that you have got the job. And then those dreaded words. You slump into your chair and half-listen as they carry on talking.

Maybe it’s an email or, even worse, nothing at all. So what do you do?


Feedback – Don’t take it personally

At this stage the last thing you may want to hear are negative comments about why you didn’t get the job. The feedback will often contain positive comments as well as areas for improvement. So do listen to the feedback and make notes so you can reflect on them later. Try not to take the feedback personally. It will focus on the evidence you demonstrated in application and interview in relation to the job and not be an attack on your personality. Feedback may be given on the phone or you may need to request it. Always, always ask for feedback following an interview. It isn’t often possible to get feedback following an application, however you can still request it. If you have applied to UniJob you can ask for feedback whatever stage you get to in the application process.



Now it is time to look through your application and think about the interview again. There may be a few moments when you cringe remembering how you answered the tricky questions but it is a useful time to assess your own strengths and weaknesses. As you go through the answers to each interview question, think about the feedback and see if you can figure out how the interviewer may have got that perception. If feedback wasn’t available, look through your application and think critically about sections you could have developed further. Or ask someone else to look through it with you. Think about areas you could improve on in future applications.



Once you have assessed your application and interview, remember to celebrate your strengths as well as looking for ways to develop those areas for improvement. If you have missed out because your computer skills aren’t up to scratch, look for a computer course such as ECDL or similar. Find situations through work or your social life where you can develop your organisational skills if that is what held you back. Read up on the topic or speak to an industry expert by arranging a work shadowing visit. Or maybe, if you think you have all the skills and experience needed, you should focus on whether you evidenced it properly at the time. Attending an EYE training session on applications, CVs or interviews could be the answer.


Take a deep breath and continue on the journey

Remember you have survived. Learn from your mistakes, take a deep breath and focus on the next application. Prepare, research the company and continue on the next step of your journey towards a successful career. Good luck!

The Chester Difference Graduate Profile

From guest writer Natalie Webster (3rYear English Literature student and Careers & Employability Information Point Assistant)

As a third year student, the thought of making the next steps in my career is very daunting. You can easily go through the whole of university thinking that you haven’t done much at all to become employable, but this is completely untrue. Luckily, Careers and Employability have created The Chester Difference Graduate Profile to help you to identify all of the attributes you have gained and help you understand where you need to improve.

General Skills

Within the graduate profile, the general skills section contains thinking, communicating and delivering. Communication is a skillset which develops immensely throughout university in all aspects. The constant stream of assessments we have to complete ensure that our written communication and presenting skills are always being developed. Listening, negotiation, teamwork and debate are all skills which are consistently exercised through lectures and seminars. Your critical and creative thinking and ability to deliver quality work to deadlines are also aspects you will have learnt from being at university. That’s a lot of skills already, and this is only within the educational environment! These skills are all enhanced by extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, work experience, being a StAR and many other activities. I am president of a society which involves so many of these aspects: managing social media accounts; teamwork within the committee; communicating with students; recruiting new people; managing the budget. Even living in halls and interacting with new people will have added to your interpersonal skills. Until you stop and think about it, you often don’t realise how many responsibilities and experiences you actually have to boast about.


If there is one thing that I could say has changed massively since I joined university, it is my confidence. I feel that studying, working and living alone has made me a more self-aware, assertive and independent person. These all contribute towards the kind of mindset you need to secure a graduate position. There are many scenarios that you encounter that will demonstrate your flexibility, reliance, curiosity, resilience and your initiative. Ensure you recognise and remember these instances for applications, personal statements and interviews.


Ah, the dreaded interview question: ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ What a difficult question to answer, especially as it is often so easy to be harsh on yourself. It’s so important to recognise the qualities that set you apart from the crowd, and also aspects you may need to improve on in order to make yourself more employable. You have probably learnt a lot about where your talents lie through university assignments. Do you excel at presenting but not so much at writing? Is your work good but often left until the last minute? Do you find planning difficult or easy? I often have to begin my assignments by running my ideas past a friend or lecturer, which really illustrates how much I value teamwork and collaboration. Evaluating your performance in assessments is a brilliant way to start to understand how you work best. An interviewer might also ask you to talk them through your CV. This is a time where you have to justify the academic and professional choices you have made throughout your life. Have a look through your CV and think about why you decided to take on a particular role and how it has impacted you. Be prepared to explain any gaps in a positive way.


Real World Experience and Awareness

Almost two thirds of students have part-time jobs while at university. It is a great advantage to have experience in the world of work before pursuing a graduate career. I feel that having a part-time job has definitely increased my awareness of how various companies operate and has given me an insight on working life in various sectors. However, if you don’t have a part-time job, you probably still have experience from work based learning, volunteering or work shadowing. No matter how short the placements are, these experiences are still incredibly important. It’s also a good idea to keep up with current events, especially by continuously researching the sector you are interested in. You can do this by looking at job profiles, following companies on social media, reading relevant news articles, and speaking to people in the industry. Make sure you know about any advancements or trends within that sector, show the employers how interested you are!


Personally, networking is still quite a baffling idea to me. It conjures up images of running around at a drinks reception frantically trying to introduce yourself to everyone. However, this is not often the case. Almost any interaction you have with colleagues and university staff can be considered networking. It’s a great idea to build a good rapport with your lecturers; not only will you need them for references but they may also have contacts that could be vital to your future. Think about the University of Chester network you already have: your community of peers, housemates or course-friends, may provide to be vital contacts in the future. Additionally, work shadowing, sending speculative applications to companies you are interested in and making a LinkedIn profile are all brilliant ways of networking.

Specialist Skills

There are probably a lot of skills you have learnt from your course that are specialist. Whether it’s computer programming, a foreign language, excellent writing skills, design skills or music. These all help you to stand out within the application process and throughout your career. Even if they aren’t particularly relevant to what you’re hoping to do, they show commitment, passion and diligence.

The Chester Difference Graduate Profile has definitely helped me evaluate my academic life and identify key experience and skills I have gained. How can it help you? What makes you stand out?


Graduating this year? Don’t forget Careers and Employability – We’re here for 3 years after you leave

Congratulations! Completing your degree is a huge achievement. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t lots to think about. Whether you’re confused about your prospects, struggling to find work, or wondering how to get started with your chosen career path, we can help.

We’re here for 3 years after you graduate. Our free services include:

  • Speaking to a Career Consultant – Missed your chance to talk to one of our experts? Don’t worry – we’re still here for you. Firm up your career plans, strengthen your applications, improve your interview techniques and maximise your chances of success.


  • The Chester Internship Programme – Start your three month internship with a local employer and gain valuable industry-based experience and skills. Guaranteed minimum starting salary of £1000 per month.


  • Graduate Head Start – Struggling to find employment? Not fulfilling your career ambitions? Join our developmental programme designed to improve your employability. Attend a tailored guidance appointment, access online employability training sessions and come to a one-day career-planning workshop.


  • Entrepreneurship – Sign Up to our Venture programme and get started with your unique business venture or as a self-employed professional. Stand out from the crowd!

Contact us and book a guidance appointment with one of our Career Consultants or come along to one of our drop-ins.

If you’ve moved away from campus, don’t worry – use our Ask a Question service at Just reset your student password and you’re good to go!

We can also offer advice via Skype, email and telephone.


Get in touch to learn more:


Tel: 01244 513066 (Chester), 01925 534235 (Warrington)




Graduates! Have you Thought About Self-Employment?

With Graduation upon us, you may be feeling the pressure to find employment. Perhaps you’re struggling to find a career path that’s right for you, or maybe you already work part-time but would like a more fulfilling role.

Have you thought about self-employment?

From starting your own business to freelancing alongside your part-time job, there’s more than one route to becoming self-employed. Read on to find out more.



If you already have a creative interest or a skill set you’d like to sell, consider marketing yourself as a freelancer.

Perhaps you vlog in your spare time or play in a band; maybe you’re a singer or an archaeologist or write for a magazine. Whatever it is you love to do, check out our freelancing guide to see whether self-employment is right for you.

When starting out, it’s unlikely that you’ll earn enough to support yourself by freelancing alone. You may even find yourself working for free as you build up your portfolio. This might mean that you spend less time on your freelancing projects than you’d like.

Nevertheless, make sure to give priority to your freelancing achievements in your CV. When networking, introduce yourself as a freelancer; explain to your friends and family that this is how you want to be seen professionally.


Starting your Own Business

Perhaps you already have an idea for a product or service and would like to take it further. Starting your own business might be the route for you.

Do you have something unique to offer based on your skills and experiences? Have you noticed a gap in the market that you could fill?

Whether you’re a baker or a technologist, a dance teacher or a horse rider, one of the first steps to starting a business is to develop your business plan. Think about what your product is, who will benefit from it and who your competitors will be.

Check out this advice given by student and graduate start-ups.


So, What Next?

Before you begin your journey to self-employment, remember that freelancing or starting a business is a huge commitment. From understanding tax to negotiating your work hours and marketing yourself, there’s a lot to consider.

Are you committed to seeing your idea through? Resilience, risk-taking and dedication are all key attributes for entrepreneurs.

If you think self-employment might be for you, or you want to develop your entrepreneurial skills, check out our Venture brochure and come along to our events designed to help you with your freelancing and start-up dreams.

If you’re already on the way to becoming self-employed, remember to tell us about it in the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey.


Remember – the more you tell us the better. We want to hear from you, whatever stage you’re at!