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Marketing | The Careers Service Marketing – Oxford University Careers Service
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Are you good at coming up with original and innovative ideas? Do you have strong communication and digital skills? Do you enjoy working on challenging and diverse projects? If yes, then you may wish to consider working in marketing or sales. “Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.” The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

In other words, marketing helps to make a business visible in the marketplace, whilst also identifying its customers. This involves a variety of disciplines including market research, product development, pricing, packaging, distribution and promotion (which includes advertising, direct marketing, sales and public relations [PR]).

Marketing roles exist in both the private and public sector: from charities to banks, from transport to museums – they, and many other sectors, all recruit marketers! The range of organisations advertising for marketing roles at Oxford includes healthcare, energy services, software houses, retailers, aerospace, manufacturing, charities, telecomms, communication consultancies, brand & marketing consultancies… The list is endless, with an emphasis on large manufacturers and brand consultancies.

Types of job

Consumer marketing managers

…focus on fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs). They direct and co-ordinate sales teams, market researchers and brand managers in ensuring the success of marketing campaigns for the particular product or products they are managing. They focus on consumer advertising, promotion ideas for in-store and also brand development.

Market research

…(sometimes termed “consumer business insight”) provides information about customers, products and services to help marketers make decisions about product development and communicating with customers. Researchers use both qualitative and quantitative methods to draw conclusions and direct business strategies. Market research helps to spot new opportunities, identify issues and measure performance of current marketing campaigns.

Brand management

…can be part of the general Consumer Marketing Manager’s role or can be undertaken by specialist Brand Managers on a consultancy basis. It involves creating a specific set of ‘meanings’ and ‘messages’ associated with a product. These ‘messages’ may result from visual advertising, packaging, the distribution outlets, the price, and so on. The key is that the brand becomes the differentiator and makes the product clearly identifiable and desirable. They work closely with production, sales and finance to ensure the product or service performs to target. They will also monitor marketing trends and customer feedback to ensure the brand meets with customer expectations.

Industrial marketing

… is often called Business to Business (B2B) because its targets are other organisations. Industrial marketing can require a more complex, technical understanding of the products, as the range being marketed can vary from chemicals through to industrial equipment.

Direct marketing

…involves marketing products or services directly to individuals. At the heart of direct marketing is targeting, personalisation of messages and measurability – a lot of which is driven by insights gained from databases of information. E-mail marketing within direct marketing is becoming an important tool. You may be involved in copywriting letters and brochures, doing data analysis, customer profiling and segmentation.

Marketing communications

…is all about getting the right message across via the most effective promotional method. In this aspect of marketing  you could be writing and designing printed advertisements, leaflets or posters, or producing advertising for cinema, radio and TV. The work also includes PR, getting  press coverage for products and securing  sponsorship deals.

Digital marketing – uses the internet to generate responses from a target audience. This could involve elements of email marketing, SEO (search engine optimisation), online advertising, affiliate marketing, text messaging and blogging.

Social media marketing – engages the target audience and promotes an organisation’s brand using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and many others.

Sales executive roles

…(increasingly known as customer development) can be applied to a wide range of products and environments. At the heart of marketing is the customer, but it is the sales sector that comes into direct contact with the customer – whether the actual consumer, another company, or a retailer.

The emphasis in sales is not only on acquiring new business and hitting sales targets, but also on developing ongoing relationships with customers and providing sales support. Consumer sales will often mean working in a liaison role to large retailers and supermarkets, particularly the buyers within these organisations. Other more specialist sales areas include pharmaceutical sales, publishing and media sales, car sales, and financial product sales. Senior sales managers in large organisations are extremely powerful and their relationships with their equally large global clients can determine millions of pounds of profit. Sales roles at this level can be more about coordinating multi-disciplinary teams to ensure the satisfaction of global retailers.

Entry points

Entry into marketing can be through a number of different routes;

Graduate schemes at global marketing firms such as;

  • WPP  – WPP Marketing Fellowship offers three one-year rotations through WPP companies
  • Omnicom Group (DAS) – Accelerate programme offers 5 placements in different DAS agencies over 16 months
  • Also see the Advertising and PR briefings for graduate opportunities within advertising and PR specifically

Marketing graduate schemes at global firms in other sectors which include;

There are also an increasing number of graduate training opportunities in consultancies specialising in research and brand management, such as; Interbrand, The Value Engineers, Sparkler and Happen.

Alternatively, look at opportunities to work as a marketing assistant, in a smaller firms who do not have enough openings to warrant a formal graduate programme. These may be advertised on relevant careers sites (see external resources at the end of this briefing) or you can approach firms directly (see the separate briefing on making speculative approaches).

A postgraduate marketing course is not required to secure a marketing job, however the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management offer accredited, practical courses and modules that you can take to gain relevant skills and evidence your interest in these sectors.

Skills and experience

Skills needed

Wikipedia: The Marketing Mix

Generally in marketing, it’s important to read up on  “the marketing mix” – it’s probably the most famous marketing term. Its elements form the basics of a ‘marketing plan’. Also known as the ‘4 Ps’, the marketing mix elements are PRICE, PLACE, PRODUCT and PROMOTION.

Key skills:

  • The ability to plan, organise and manage teams of people
  • Strong analytical skills, including the ability to work with figures
  • Good communication skills, including presentation and interpersonal skills
  • Motivation to keep abreast of trends in the marketplace, and to initiate change
  • Strong commercial awareness and a keen interest in the product or service being marketed
  • Good digital skills, it is important to be comfortable with using a range of digital platforms

Getting experience

Work experience is highly valued by recruiters. It demonstrates your commitment to and understanding of the role, and adds a new dimension to your CV, helping you make sure that you are happy with your career choice. It is useful to get involved in marketing different events at university, or assisting companies with casual promotion work. Many recruiters seek Campus Brand Managers to promote their organisation and products and this is a popular way to gain experience whilst at University.

Developing an analytical approach to looking at and comparing brands will also help develop your skills and knowledge. Even experience in retailing will be useful if you think about the marketing mix while you are there.

Some firms offer formal summer internships, such as the 8 week marketing summer placement at Sky, the Centrica summer internship and the Goggle BOLD internship across sales, marketing and people operations. Companies recruiting for sales and marketing may also run courses during the Christmas vacation (e.g. P&G Commercial Career Academy 3 day course), Sometimes courses are used as part of the selection process, and in some cases it is essential to attend the company’s marketing course if you want to obtain a marketing job with them.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) organise programmes and resources specifically for students and graduates to increase their understanding of what marketing involves. The IDM runs a range of initiatives that introduce students to the direct, data and digital marketing profession. Consider applying for the IDM Summer School which is a free week long course working on a marketing brief. Another initiative is the IDM Creative Data Academy for students interested in data, digital and analytics. They also run the IDM student marketing award.

There is often confusion about whether you should be paid to do an internship or work experience. It will depend on your arrangement with the employer and also the status of the employer. To find out if you are entitled to be paid when undertaking work experience or an internship, visit the Government’s webpages on the National Minimum Wage.

Getting a job

Michaelmas Term is an important time for those wanting a role in marketing, or if you are interested in sales with large multinational organisations. Some recruitment deadlines are as early as October and November. Some smaller marketing consultancies (not necessarily restricted to graduates), may become available throughout the year.

The Careers Service runs it’s own in-house programme ‘The Agency‘ which allows students to get first-hand experience of what it’s like to work in a creative agency. For students interested in marketing, advertising or PR it can be a great way to get a feel for what it’s like to work in these areas. Further information on The Agency is available here.

Good sources of vacancies are the Guardian website/newspaper on Mondays, the Independent website/newspaper on Tuesdays and the industry journals listed below. The Chartered Institute of Marketing have a useful online resource of Getin2Marketing, and The Institute of Direct Marketing promotes graduate placements, schemes and recruitment agencies.

The competition for places is intense and you need to be thoroughly prepared. If you are not successful with advertised opportunities, consider speculative applications using the vacancy database and archive vacancies in CareerConnect and Oxford Careers Network (OCN).

Equality & positive action

A number of major graduate recruiters have policies and processes that are proactive in recruiting graduates from diverse backgrounds. For example, many major recruiters are members of the Business Disability Forum and endorse proactive schemes such as the Guaranteed Interview Scheme for disabled individuals; Stonewall have a Diversity Champions Programme and issue an annual Equality Index of inclusive workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. This includes organisations such as Google and the Co-Operative group.

Rare recruitment connects exceptional people from diverse backgrounds with great jobs in top organisations, there clients include WPP.

Creative Access specialise in helping BAME students into creative careers and their clients include The Marketing Store, Jack Morton Worldwide and All Together Now.

The UK law protects you from discrimination due to your age, gender, race, religion or beliefs, disability or sexual orientation. For further information on the Equality Act and to find out where and how you are protected, and what to do if you feel you have been discriminated against, visit the Government’s webpages on discrimination.

Our resources


The following books are available to read in our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

  • The A List – Guide to Who’s Who In Media, Marketing and advertising 2016
  • Marketing Your Business, John Westwood
  • Marketing – An Introduction, Rosalind Masterson, David Pickton
  • Marketing Uncovered, Andi Robertson
  • Careers in Marketing, Wetfeet Insider Guides
  • Careers in Advertising and Public Relations, Wetfeet Insider Guides
  • Careers in Brand Management, Wetfeet Insider Guides

Take-away material

Collect the following material from our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

  • Prospects Directory
  • Times Top 100
  • The Guardian UK 300
  • Target Jobs: Get Directory

Podcasts of past events

Life as a wordsmith: careers in communicating

Speakers from different communications agencies including Green.TV Media Ltd, Culture Trip and Tamarindo Communications. The focus will be on how, and where, graduates
can put their writing skills to work as so many students struggle to find jobs ‘in writing’ beyond journalism.

External resources

Careers sites

Institutes & organisations

This information was last updated on 04 September 2019.
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