Landing the perfect marketing role as a Graduate

22 June 2021 by Sandra Lawler

Landing the perfect marketing role as a Graduate


Sandra Lawler Interview Advice, Career Advice, Marketing...

Landing your perfect marketing role

We recently ran a career advice session with the Marketing institute of Ireland (, to help graduates land the perfect marketing role. We shared our tips from the Alternatives team, across the following areas:

  1. Planning your career
  2. Writing a winning CV
  3. The search
  4. Succeeding at interview

We’ve summarised the key tips below, but if you’ve an hour to spare you can follow the full session here: YouTube Link Here :

Step 1: Planning your career

The best career is one that aligns with you personally. Decide what you really want to do, what energises and excites you and plays to your strengths. Be ambitious!

Marketing is multifaceted and ever evolving. It ranges from the scientific to the creative. Decide what interests you most.

Plan your career strategically with the end destination in mind and make conscious career choices. If you ultimately want to start up your own business get stints in sales and finance as well as marketing. If you want to be a CMO make conscious decisions to work in companies where marketing can be strategic and is genuinely customer oriented. Let money count, but not over-ride the right choice.

When you’ve thought about where you want to go, write a plan for how you might get there. What companies, roles etc.

2. Writing a Winning CV

Your CV is designed to summarise, sell, differentiate and get you the interview and the role you want. It must tell your story and be accurate. It needs to demonstrate your initiative and drive, to stand out.

CV suggested Structure: As a grad-Max 2 pages

  • Personal Contact Details
  • Personal Profile Paragraph
  • Education: Course & key relevant modules, any courses, thesis, projects.
  • Experience to date: Including any part time jobs, internships, volunteering, with results
  • Other achievements
  • Interests- if relevant and true
  • References/Testimonials

Make sure you’ve work experience. Volunteer or do project work in your spare time for free if necessary. Ask those that you worked for to recommend you on LinkedIn. Do the latest Marketing software tools/courses, many of which are also free.

3. The Search Process- Less is more

A scattergun approach doesn’t work. Don’t apply randomly. Put research, research, and more research into your top picks, based on your plan, be targeted and apply effort there.

Follow brands/businesses, people who work there to get early heads up on opportunities.

Manage your online presence – Stand out professionally. Proactively promote your personal brand- with videos, articles, commentary and importantly, separate the social from the professional. Check your social media presence… Hiring companies & agencies do!

Adapt your CV to criteria/language of each role & company and send with bespoke cover letter, focusing on what’s in it for them (not you). Ideally find a named contact e.g. via college alumni, research and if working via an agency/talent manager, treat them with respect.

4. Succeeding at Interview

So you’ve landed an interview. Now the prep really starts.

Interviews are a journey of two parts: Researching the company, then Prepping the interview.

Researching the company

Research the company, products, competitors, market context, latest news, ambitions & strategy. Marketing campaigns, digital, social media. Latest company results, who is the current CEO, CMO etc. Talk to people who have worked in the company to understand structure & culture.

Prepping the interview

  • Know the job description inside out.
  • Prepare competency and technical interview questions.
  • Prepare what you would bring to the role – why you?
  • Prepare some questions for them
  • Prepare your final pitch
  • Double check time, location of interview and time to get there
  • Check LinkedIn and online profiles of all interviewers
  • Print out CV     

As a grad, your interviewers will be looking to assess your skills, but above all your motivation, drive and fit.

At the interview

  • Don’t be late
  • First impressions critical, so smile, give a good handshake.
  • Body language and tone critical, as well as content
  • Dress smartly and professionally, but appropriately for the organisation
  • Be authentic
  • Listen
  • Ask them some questions at the end- not salary
  • Make a final pitch - why you
  • Show your motivation-Passion is Priceless

Your interview may be CV led, so bring it with you. Interviewers will focus on your experience/skills/fit. Questions will be about you, why hire you vs someone else? What you can bring to the role? Why you want to work here? Where do you want to be in 5 years? Etc. Know your story but avoid sounding over rehearsed.

For Competency based interviews, you'll need to prepare examples across several competencies such as leadership, self-motivation, team playing etc.

The typical structure to prepare is the STAR approach: What was situation? The task? What action did you take? Why did you do it that way? What was the result?                   

As a lot of interviews are taking place remotely, bear the following in mind:

  • Prepare your environment. Good internet connection is a must. Ensure you are clear of all background distractions – use a virtual background if your setting isn’t ideal.
  • Know how  teams/zoom/skype etc. works fluidly and log in early. 
  • Sit in center of your screen, not distant, in a well-lit room.
  • Dress professionally, as if you were attending an in-person interview
  • Go big on positive body language, use gestures (nodding, smiling, etc.). Convey energy across the screen.

Good luck with your career planning and job search.

For more info on the market and on benchmarked salaries and benefits, check out our 2021 survey here

For the full session click here: