How to Get Your First Marketing Job After You Graduate

The Prepped Team

8 minutes

Back button
Back to Blog

How to Get Your First Marketing Job After You Graduate

Are you considering a career in marketing? As an essential aspect of every business—from boutique firms to corporations—marketing is a valued function that offers tremendous job opportunities in a creative and fulfilling career. Marketing jobs for fresh graduates span digital and traditional marketing practices, involving strategy-making to promote brands, analyzing data, website development, and more.

There are multiple career paths that a recent graduate can pursue, and you may wonder how to forge your own path in this multifaceted field. We can help. In this article, we’ll outline what you need to know to become a professional marketer, and share tips on how to get your first marketing job after you graduate. 

In this article:

Why do companies employ marketers?

According to the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), marketing is a set of business practices designed to plan for and present an organization’s products or services in ways that build effective customer relationships. Today, companies recognize more than ever they need to clearly communicate what they offer their customers. Marketing professionals play a major role in developing the right method to do that. 

Generally, marketers fulfil three key functions: capture attention, educate and nurture prospects, and convert thoughts about a brand into action (such as making a purchase). Not surprisingly, marketing and sales are closely linked in their efforts to connect with prospects, customers, investors, and the community with a consistent message and brand. 

What does a marketing professional do?

The job responsibilities of a marketing professional vary based on the role’s area of focus and seniority level. Here are some of the key tasks marketers perform in companies:

  • Identify strategies and techniques to attract customers.
  • Determine pricing based on product demand and supply to help maximize a firm's profits, and grow market share for a business. 
  • Collaborate with sales, advertising, product design, and product development teams to determine product market fit, as well as plan and execute promotional marketing campaigns.
  • Create editorial and content creation calendars for various media platforms and outlets, including social media. 
  • Draft and manage communications between the company and its partners and clients.

Entry level marketing jobs for new graduates

As a recent graduate, you can choose from a variety of roles and industries as you embark on your marketing career. Entry level marketing positions are available in advertising agencies, IT companies, government, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, insurance and financial services, consumer products, and media and broadcasting organizations. 

Over the past decade, new technologies have transformed the field of marketing. Collecting big data and offering a (somewhat) personalized customer experience is now a fundamental part of most companies’ marketing strategies. It’s the role of a marketer to analyze the data, monitor trends, and make recommendations. The rise in e-commerce and social media adds yet another technological facet to marketing. No surprise, the demand for tech-savvy marketing employees has increased.  

The types of entry-level marketing jobs available across most industries include:

  • Market research analyst
  • Marketing associate/coordinator
  • Digital marketing specialist
  • Social media coordinator
  • Communications specialist
  • Copywriter/content writer
  • Public relations associate
  • SEO specialist
  • Community manager

The average salaries for entry-level marketing positions tend to range from $40,000 to $62,000 according to Indeed, with market research analysts and communications specialists earning the highest average salaries. Marketing coordinators and social media coordinators tend to land on the lower end of the pay range.  

Educational qualification for jobs in marketing

Many entry level marketing jobs require candidates to have a university degree in communications, public relations, English, marketing, journalism, or a related field. Some marketing roles are suited to candidates with commerce degrees (particularly with a major in marketing). 

For market research analyst jobs, a university degree in a quantitative background like mathematics or statistics is an asset, if not a requirement. Candidates with a college diploma in a related field such as business, communications, public relations, marketing, or journalism are also qualified for a range of marketing jobs.

If you have an MBA in marketing, you will likely have expanded employment opportunities. Alternatively, many graduates pursue post-graduate certificates and diplomas in marketing offered by colleges and universities to boost their candidacy. 

Note: If you completed your education outside Canada, read Arrive’s article on how to get marketing jobs in Canada as a newcomer

How many years does it take to become a marketing professional in Canada?

An undergraduate degree that qualifies you for a marketing job usually takes four years. However, a diploma in marketing or a related field may be completed in two or three years. For additional education, such as a post-graduate certificate program or an MBA, add one to two years before beginning a career in marketing.

In-demand skills for entry-level marketing jobs

A professional marketer needs to bring a variety of skills to a marketing job. Here are some key skills that can help your resume stand out when applying for an entry-level marketing position.

  • Communication 
  • Creativity
  • Data analytics
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail 
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability 
  • Organization skills
  • Writing
  • SEO proficiency

How to write a resume for marketing jobs

Investing the time and effort to write a professional resume and cover letter is essential to helping you get noticed by prospective employers and land an interview. Recruiters often rely on these documents to determine if you’re a good fit for the job. While it may seem to be a daunting task, there are many steps you can take to present yourself as the ideal candidate. Here are some tips to craft an impressive resume:

  • Choose the right resume format: The resume format you pick should be based on your skills, experience, and career level. Since you’re at the start of your marketing career and may not have significant relevant work experience, it’s best to use a functional resume format that draws attention to your transferable skills and education, and away from your lack of marketing experience. Using a resume template can simplify the writing process as it is already professionally formatted.
  • Showcase your education: As a recent graduate with academic credentials related to marketing, your education should be placed ahead of work experience. If you’ve completed a marketing dissertation as part of your degree program, include the title and a one-line description. In the skills section, you can also include some of the subjects you excelled in.
  • Provide work experience: While you may not have professional work experience in marketing, you can include relevant experience from volunteer work, freelance projects, and internships. Part-time jobs also fit in here, especially if you’ve developed transferable skills such as organization, adaptability, attention to detail, and communication. For each job or volunteer experience, list your achievements using action words such as led, implemented, coordinated, and executed. This is also the place to include marketing campaigns you worked on, whether through a school project or work, as well as any experience in conducting research, analyzing data, compiling demographics, creating personas, and more. A link to your online portfolio should be included to provide the hiring manager the option to review your work more carefully.
  • Tailor your resume to the job description: Your resume and cover letter should be customized to each job posting. Some employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter out resumes that don’t match the job description. Only those that pass make it into the recruiter’s hands. To improve your chances, include relevant exact-match keywords from the job description in your resume and cover letter. The Prepped Resume Scanner helps ensure your resume is ATS-friendly.
  • Keep it brief and simple: Marketing jobs are highly sought after and hiring managers often receive hundreds of applications for each job posting. They want resumes they can quickly scan, so make sure yours is predictably organized. Keep your resume no longer than two pages (one is even better) and easy to read with headings and bullet points for each section. Avoid images and design elements, and stick with a resume template recruiters are familiar with.
  • Proofread your resume: Effective communication is a highly valued skill in marketing jobs, so be sure to proofread your resume and cover letter before sending out. Even one typo or grammatical error can discourage hiring managers from giving you an interview.
  • Include a cover letter: The value of a well-written cover letter cannot be overstated. Your cover letter is an opportunity to demonstrate your passion for marketing, why you want to work for the company, and your most relevant skills and achievements. Unlike a resume, a cover letter can convey your personality as you highlight the skills you feel are most pertinent to the job. This is also the ideal place to emphasize your eagerness to learn new practices and technologies in marketing which is known for its ever shifting technologies. That being said, keep the cover letter succinct and no more than one page long. 

When writing your resume and cover letter, it’s important to be honest and enthusiastic about the field you are applying for. Honesty will help ensure you feel confident during the interview process.

How to get your first job in marketing as a new graduate

Now that you know what the role of a marketer entails and the main requirements to land a job in the field, you can prepare for your job search. Here we outline how to set yourself up for success when applying for an entry level marketing job after graduating. 

Determine the field of marketing you’re interested in

Focusing on a facet of marketing that interests you can help narrow your search in this wide field. This will also help you customize your resume to your desired job, clarify any skills gaps you have, and ultimately improve your chance of landing your first marketing job.

Build a portfolio

A portfolio provides potential employers with visual proof of your experience. Build a personal website to post samples and links to work you’ve completed through volunteering, internships, school projects, or freelance gigs. You may also want to post your resume, as well as links to your social media content to showcase your digital capabilities. Adding a blog may be an asset if you want to feature your writing or graphic design ability. Include the portfolio in your LinkedIn profile to help attract the attention of recruiters looking to hire new grads and in your resume to help potential employers visualize your work. 

Skill building and certifications

There are many sources available to help improve your marketing skills via online workshops and certifications. Descriptions for jobs that interest you can help clarify any gaps in your skill set. Some examples of technical skills valued in marketing are Google Analytics, Google Ads, Hubspot, video editing tools, SEO, WordPress, and PowerPoint. You may be able to earn certifications in certain softwares through the companies that make them or online course platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, or Udemy.

Build your network

Networking can significantly expand your employment opportunities. A large percentage of job openings in Canada aren’t publicly advertised and are instead filled through recruiters’ networks. Your professional network can introduce you to some of these hidden job opportunities. LinkedIn is an ideal place to start building connections with marketing professionals and potential employers. Your network should include a mix of professionals, from recruiters and people who’ve recently started marketing careers to seasoned marketers with several years of experience. Message them to set up a coffee chat or informational interview to learn more about the industry. This is also a great way to be recognized as a candidate for future job postings.

Look out for networking events at your university or college. They’re a great way to connect with seasoned marketing professionals in a supportive environment. You can also join organizations for marketing professionals that offer opportunities to meet in person, such as the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), and more. Many have student memberships and welcome professionals just starting out in their career.

Know where to look for opportunities

There are ample opportunities for recent graduates applying for jobs in marketing, but it’s important to know where to look. Online job portals like Glassdoor, Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Grabjobs are ideal places to commence your search. Don’t forget to routinely check your university or college job portal where job postings will be targeted to recent graduates.  Employment agencies may also be a helpful source for marketing jobs, so consider registering with ones that specialize in marketing.

Reach out to employers directly

You may want to narrow your search by compiling a list of desirable companies to target and track their online career pages to stay abreast of job opportunities. Follow them on LinkedIn and consider looking for employees who are alumni of your school or among your first or second degree connections—you can reach out to them for informational interviews. Many companies also have social media accounts and blogs that you can follow and engage in.

Prepare for your first marketing interview

So your resume has been shortlisted and you've been invited for an interview! This can be the most exciting—and daunting—aspect of the application process, but proper preparation can go a long way in impressing the hiring manager and improving your chances of getting an offer.  

Although the interview process will differ from one company to the next, up to four interviews are common for marketing positions. The first may be a screening round done over the phone, as an on-demand video interview, or a live video interview. This is often followed by a a one-on-one interview with the hiring manager, one or more panel interviews with the marketing team, and a culture fit interview. For some positions, such as copywriting or content marketing roles, employers may ask you to complete an assignment within a specified time limit.

During a marketing interview, in addition to technical questions, you can expect a mix of general, behavioural, and culture fit questions. Practicing your responses to potential interview questions will help ensure your interview goes smoothly and you make a good first impression. When drafting answers, be sure to research the company’s website and social media channels thoroughly to frame responses that articulate your understanding of the role and how you will be a good fit for the company. (They may even ask your impression of their marketing assets, so be prepared!)

Here are some commonly asked questions during marketing interviews:

  • Why are you interested in a career in marketing? 
  • What is a marketing trend or campaign that you like?
  • What do you think of our recent marketing campaign?
  • How would you manage the launch of a new product?
  • If you had to grow our client base by 3x in a year, with a blank cheque to achieve it, what would you do?
  • What motivates you professionally?

Preparing in advance will ensure you’re confident and ready to ace your interviews. You can also practice by recording your answers to these common interview questions with Prepped AI Interviewer.

​​Be Prepped to enter the job market

As a recent graduate, landing your dream marketing job is an important step toward building an exciting career you’ve spent years preparing for. That’s why, at Prepped, we offer the tools to help you land that perfect position. Let us help you build an ATS-friendly resume to give yourself the best possible odds. Improving your interview skills is a great way to ensure you land that dream role fresh out of school, and that’s why we invite everyone to sign up for Prepped to get access to tools and resources.