What do hiring managers look for in Marketing Graduates?

By Tyler Lawrence ACIM CMktr

According to WhatUni?, in the UK there are 145 universities offering a grand total of 857 courses in the field of marketing. Place a South West lens over this and in our beautiful region, there are 12 universities offering 52 undergraduate marketing courses. (This is probably the right time to mention 9 of these 12 South West Universities offer CIM accredited degrees).

A competitive landscape

From a quick search on the web, and finding 850+ marketing courses, it becomes clear very quickly that each year there are many, graduates on the hunt for their first role in marketing; all of which will graduate around the same time, and therefore will be applying for the entry-level roles at the same time.

A competitive field. And that’s before we consider those completing apprenticeships or international students wanting to begin their careers in the UK.

We can’t forget that it’s 2022 and unfortunately coronavirus, after already impacting those completing their degrees, has also decided to impact the job market for graduates. According to a recent report by the research team at High Fliers, in 2020 there was a 12.3% decline in graduate vacancies at the UK’s top employers. It recovered slightly in 2021 with a 2.5% increase, but there is still some way to go to reach the recruitment level before the pandemic hit.

How to stand out from the crowd

This paints a picture of the need for graduates to ‘stand out from the crowd’ more so than ever before. In a bid to help, we have spoken with senior marketing professionals, from across B2B and B2C, agency and client-side, to provide their thoughts on what they look for when hiring a marketing graduate.

Verity Studley-Wootton ACIM, Co-Founder & Associate Director at Roots to Market

Verity makes the point straight away - “The key for me is that the degree is great but what else?.”

“Firstly, I'm always keen to know what course they did at university and why they chose that course. Why did they choose the university they went to? Finding that out gives me some insight into their motivations and mindset. Then, it's about what did they do outside of pure study to supplement growth in life skills - a job on the side, mentoring, involvement in sports teams etc. I'm also keen to understand what they did or have done since graduating to make them super relevant for the marketing world - so have they done a free HubSpot course, taught themselves photoshop, learnt paid FB etc”

Kevin Heighway-Corcoran FCIM, Senior Manager of Campaigns at BCLP LLP

Next up, we speak with Kevin, a senior professional whose experience ranges from across agencies to leading B2B brands.

“We actively seek well-rounded individuals, and we recruit from a diverse talent pool including a wide range of universities and degree disciplines. We look for candidates that demonstrate intellectual curiosity, a growth mind-set, lateral thinking, as well as strong analytical and critical reasoning skills. In addition, many wider qualities including strong communication skills, emotional intelligence, and individuals with an interest in commercial and current affairs. Lastly, we look for individuals that are looking to contribute to the future direction of the Firm whilst building a career that works for them.”

Start now

The theme throughout is clear. You’re on the right path with your marketing degree and at the start of a very exciting career ladder. However, to ensure you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself in marketing and to get the role you are after, more is needed. This will allow you to display the wider qualities Kevin mentions or the growth in life skills that Verity seeks.

Good luck to you all, and make sure you check out the CIM Marketing Club which brings to you great webinars and content specific for marketing grads.

Tyler Lawrence