10 key skills a graduate needs to get a job in marketing

Apr 25, 2013

There are 10 key skills a graduate needs to work in marketing. If you can demonstrate that you have them you will stand a far better chance of beating off tough competition to get the job.


A graduate looking to get into marketing must be able to show that he or she has had some experience in marketing something. It is likely that you will have gained this through a project you did at school, college or university, through a marketing internship or in a voluntary capacity. If your marketing knowledge is only theoretical you will not get an interview; you need practical experience of creating and selling an idea or product.

It will also help if you have some experience in online marketing, such as SEO (search engine optimisation of a website and content), using social media (including which works best for what type of content, campaigns or audience) and PPC (Google’s pay per click advertising service), since the internet now plays an important role in reaching audiences. There has been a steady increase in the demand for marketers with online skills – or digital marketing skills.

Brand knowledge

Whatever area of industry you want to get into you must show you have some knowledge of the main brands and organisations operating within it. You will truly impress an employer if you can talk about the differences between these brands, about what you think their strengths and weaknesses are and how they differ from each other within that industry.


Learners are people that seek out information. Being naturally inquisitive they will keep up with relevant stuff in the industry by subscribing to and reading trade magazines and newsletters. Because of this such people will always know what is happening in the industry. You need to have this skill.

Writing skills

As a marketer you will be required to create campaigns and sell proposals to win others over to your ideas so good writing skills are key even in an age where technology dominates. Having a clear and flexible style is important too. You need to be able to write and summarise your message for a range of platforms, whether that’s a thousand-word printed report or a 40-character tweet.

Business sense

Having an entrepreneurial mind will not only help you to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the company you are hoping to work for, and their competitors, but also provide you with the language skills needed to hold commercial conversations. You need to understand what the purpose of the business is, who its customers are and what drives revenue.

Analytical skills

Data plays an increasing part in what marketers do so having the sort of analytical mind that can interpret what it is saying in financial terms will be an asset to you, both in terms of your marketing strategy and in influencing key decisions at the project planning stage. The ability to work with a range of data sources and tools, including graphs, flow charts and databases, is key.

Leadership skills

Current perspectives on leadership shows that people lead in different ways, so even as a junior member of the team in a marketing department you still need to be able to demonstrate that you have leadership skills. You need to show you have the confidence to lead others if the need arises or that you can take the lead on work entrusted to you as part of a team.

Creativity and risk taking

Creativity and risk taking become even more important when working with the new technology and platforms in the online environment. The environment is still new so much of what has been learned about online marketing has occurred through experimentation and testing. To successfully engage in the online world, you need to be a curious sort of person who thinks outside of the box, stays abreast on what others are doing, and is not afraid to try new things.

Technology skills

Technology skills are a must for anyone going into marketing today. You will need hardware and software applications, programs and tools to monitor and interpret data, to engage with your readers and to plan your next marketing move. Digital technology is likely to play an increasing part in marketing communication well into the future, whether we are talking about mobile, online or even print.

Sociological skills

Marketers have always needed to understand their customers but sociological trends and their impact on behaviour have become even more important over the last few years given the fast pace of change in the way we live, work and do leisure. You need to be able to make quick links between these sociological trends and customer behaviours, and how they influence choice and response.

If you can show that you have the 10 key skills you need to work in marketing through the paid and unpaid work you have done in the past you stand a greater chance of finding a job in marketing even as a graduate.

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