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Careers Centre

Marketing and sales

Sector Overview


Are you good at coming up with original and innovative ideas? 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]). An understanding of what customers need and value, is central to marketing.

The organisations involved in marketing and sales are diverse. Marketing roles exist in the private and public sector with anything from chocolate bars to financial services all needing marketeers. Sectors offering marketing roles include: healthcare, energy services, software houses, retailers, aerospace, manufacturing, charities, telecoms, communication consultancies, brand and marketing consultancies, customer relationship consultancies, media, biomedical, transport, language schools, publishing and Higher Education. There is emphasis on large manufacturers and brand consultancies.

According to The Graduate Market in 2014 report by High Fliers, recruitment is picking up again after the recession; with around two-fifths of leading UK employers having marketing vacancies.

Marketing is a popular career choice for graduates and so competition for jobs can often be intense. Statistics show that there are 85 job applications per graduate vacancy (CIM). You don't need to have studied marketing to enter the profession - vacancies are normally open to any discipline graduates. Marketing is very social and offers excellent career prospects.

Salaries for graduate entry range from £18,000 to £28,000 [Source:CIM)


Marketing attributes/skills profile

Key attributes/skills needed for the role Where you could develop these skills or attributes
Good communication skills, including presentation and interpersonal skills This is most likely to be developed and evidenced through your academic studies and work experience.
Strong analytical skills, including the ability to work with figures
The ability to plan, organise and manage teams of people

CAPOD regularly runs courses covering these skills within its Professional Skills Curriculum.

Taking on positions of responsibility in student-run societies or marketing different events, assisting companies with casual promotion or become a Campus Brand Manager to promote an organisation and products on campus.

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

Other key attributes/skills demanded for the role: do you possess them?

  • Understand and be able to implement the Marketing Mix: PRICE, PLACE, PRODUCT & PROMOTION.


Sales attributes/skills profile

 Key attributes/skills needed for the role Where you could develop these skills or attributes
High level communication skills This is most likely to be developed and evidenced through your academic studies and work experience.
Fluency in a foreign language can be helpful
Being adept and effective at networking and building relationships with customers, whether they are from major businesses or the general public

CAPOD regularly runs courses covering these skills within its Professional Skills Curriculum.

Taking on positions of responsibility in student-run societies or conducting a piece of research for societies.
Ability to listen carefully to the customer and to use perceptive analysis to adapt sales techniques to customer needs
Ability to persuade and negotiate

Other key attributes/skills demanded for the role: do you possess them?

  • Understand and be able to implement the Marketing Mix: PRICE, PLACE, PRODUCT & PROMOTION.
  • Ability to develop specialist knowledge of products or services on offer
  • Strong competitive and commercial motivation and desire to reach and exceed targets


Nature of sector or roles


Marketing is a vastly expanding industry, particularly digital marketing, and the profession is popular amongst graduates. Marketing provides good career prospects, varied work and the opportunity to help shape the image of an organisation.

A graduate could enter the industry as a marketing assistant, marketing officer or marketing executive. Job titles, roles and responsibilities do vary by organisation. The size of the organisation, scope of the role, qualification and previous experience of the applicant will all have a bearing. These entry-level positions are a good way to gain a broad experience of the industry. As you progress in your career you may specialise into one specific area. You could work directly for an organisation’s in-house marketing department or be employed by a marketing agency or consultancy. You could also choose to become a freelance marketing consultant, or move into related areas, e.g. advertising, market research or public relations.

Understanding the Difference Between B2B and B2C Marketing

Marketing is a diverse profession with opportunities to be involved in all kinds of businesses.

1) B2B - marketing to other businesses

Business-to-business or B2B marketing involves products or services that are sold to other businesses or organisations. These products are often referred to as industrial goods which could include yarn for use in textile manufacture, installations - such as large-scale equipment, aircraft, production machinery and operating supplies like paper, pens, etc.

2) B2C and FMCG - marketing directly to consumers

Business-to-consumer marketing (B2C) relates to people who buy products and use services for their own personal or domestic consumption. This includes durable items such as cars, white goods and consumer goods for speedy consumption such as food, drinks and toiletries, also known as FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods).


Sales Executive roles 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.

Networks - why and how to use them

Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your case for why they should employ you. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (many organisations have their own page) to connect with organisations. Recent St Andrews graduates have gone on to work for Google, L'Oreal, Diageo and VisitScotland. Alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews. There are several ways to make contact with alumni.

How to gain experience/internships

Work experience is highly valued by marketing and sales 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.

Sales experience can range from working as a sales assistant to charity sign-ups with organisations such as Champions Life Academy.

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.

Don’t underestimate the value of making speculative applications. Some smaller employers may not advertise relevant vacancies.

There's a good range of marketing and sales work experience opportunities advertised through CareerConnect.

We have previously advertised marketing and sales vacation work opportunities for the following organisations: NB this is not an exhaustive list.

Companies recruiting for sales and marketing may also run courses during the Christmas holidays (e.g. P&G Commercial Career Academy 3 day course) - check CareerConnect regularly to see what’s new. Courses are often 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. Increasingly larger recruiters are making permanent offers after individuals complete work experience placements.

Additional resources

How to get a (graduate) job

Entry into marketing and/or sales can be through a good number of highly competitive graduate training schemes (such as the ones mentioned under 'How to gain experience/internships' above. Alternatively, look at opportunities to enter as a marketing assistant, offering lower level support to a marketing team and the chance to move to a higher position after some time. Indirect entry into marketing can sometimes be achieved through another route, such as sales.

Some job roles may not be widely advertised, so it may be worthwhile joining a recruitment agency specialising in marketing and/or sales positions, especially if you're prepared to temp or work on short contracts. The CIM has produced a Consultants' Directory covering an array of marketing/sales disciplines in addition to general recruitment.

Some graduate marketing and sales recruitment deadlines are as early as October and November, so it's important to apply early in your final year. Some smaller marketing consultancies, and sales opportunities not necessarily restricted to graduates, may come up all year round. Smaller agencies may not advertise vacancies for graduates and speculative applications may be required.

Regularly check CareerConnect for marketing and sales opportunities.

There are many job search websites which specialise in Marketing and Sales jobs, e.g.




Applications, interviews and assessment centres

The recruitment process for marketing and sales graduate training schemes may vary from company to company, but is likely to consist of the following:

Smaller organisations may be happy to accept a CV and covering letter and will have a less formal approach to the selection process.

You can improve your chances of success at interviews if you keep up-to-date with trends and practices in the marketing and sales sectors.

For marketing, it’s important to ‘know the lingo’ – There is a lot of terminology specific to the marketing industry, so make sure you know the basics before applying. Here are a few of the well-known acronyms:

For further details, read the 10 marketing Acronyms that you should know.

Research the company prior to an interview to make sure you understand the skills and competencies they are looking for. Also check the employer’s website as many provide details on their own individual recruitment and selection processes.

Relevant Postgraduate study

This industry is unusual in that many marketing recruiters typically value real experience rather than further academic study. This is especially the case for sales. Graduates can consider postgraduate courses either specialising in marketing or mixed with more general business subjects, but this is by no means a requirement and is not likely to secure a higher salary.

Once you become a marketing or sales professional (or in some cases, before) you are likely to be encouraged to study for professional qualifications. In marketing you would typically study the Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing through the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Visit the CIM website to view the wider variety of courses available.

The Institute of Sales & Marketing Management (ISMM) offers nationally-recognised qualifications for sales professionals that are relevant to both students and their employers.

Key UK links and resources

Careers Centre resources


Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:



Related Careers A-Z pages


General marketing and sales careers information

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines


USA resources

The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The links below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.