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Helping you find a career in the Advertising industry

Those working inadvertising shape our views on a huge amount of things – from what TV we watch and what crisps we buy to which charities we support or which paracetamol we trust to get rid of our headache.

At its heart, advertising is about elevating brands and spreading their positive messages far and wide. It's a sector that requires a huge amount of drive and creativity, and one that lots of graduates set out to pursue.

Jobs in this area are fast-paced and demanding, with staff constantly needing to come up with new ideas and think on their feet. Expect hours to be long and sometimes unsocial, but huge gratification to come when you win a big pitch that you have spent weeks or months planning, or a campaign comes together successfully.

In this industry you are likely to work for an agency, organising campaigns or strategies for (sometimes multinational, household name) clients.

In general, and especially in big agencies, you are likely to work within a team that includes events assistants, designers, strategists, copywriters and other staff members. Your team will work together to ensure that all aspects of the campaign are aligned, and that they all come together seamlessly.

If you work for an international advertising agency, your job could involve international travel and meeting and pitching to stakeholders across the globe. There are lots of perks to working in advertising – this is what makes it such a competitive and popular industry for graduates.

Types of jobs within advertising

It takes a large number of people to get an advertising campaign off the ground – from those in new business, working on initial pitches to clients, to those strategising on the creative and deploying it when it’s ready to go live.

Some of the jobs you’re likely to find in an advertising agency include:

New business executive – filtering and managing inbound enquiries, liaising with potential clients, and working with other team members on pitches

New business manager – managing the whole of the new business operation, to ensure the agency brings on board fresh clients

Copywriter – creating the words, tone and messages that go into advertising campaigns

Creative – comes up with concepts for campaigns on behalf of clients

Designer – creates the visual look of the campaigns, whether digitally or physically

Social executive – works on social campaigns on behalf of the client

Strategist – responsible for the strategic planning of the overall campaign

Media planner – working out where spend should be invested across the media


Skills & interests required for a career in Advertising
Different roles will require different technical skills, but in general those working within advertising need the following to succeed:

  • Research skills
  • Creativity
  • Organisation
  • Excellent written and oral communication
  • Team work
  • IT skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • Interviewing and listening skills
  • Diligence
  • Good general knowledge
  • Common sense
  • Logic
  • Artistic flair
  • Graduate schemes & other typical career progression routes in Advertising
    Career progression in the advertising industry is laid out quite distinctly, meaning you’ll always be aware of the next step to aspire to. Although it may change slightly across different companies, the general structure is as follows:

    • Assistant
    • Executive
    • Senior executive
    • Manager
    • Senior manager
    • Director


    Expect to stay in each of these roles at least a couple of years, before being given the opportunity to prove yourself and move up.
    Tips for getting into the field
    Advertising is a competitive and popular industry, so it’s essential to know what employers are looking for before you start applying for roles.

    To succeed, a strong head for marketing and the commercial side of business and a flair for creativity are both essential.

    There are also a large number of general, non-industry-related things that you can do to put yourself in a good position to start applying for jobs.

    These include:

    • Tailoring your CV for each specific role, making sure you focus on previous experience and relevant skills
    • Applying for internships and/or work experience – this is a no-brainer: as well as ensuring that you’ve experienced the field before you start applying for jobs within it, it’ll show that you’re committed and allow you to start acquiring the practical skills you’ll need in your future job
    • Take on similar roles – for example as an office assistant in an advertising agency or similar, in holidays or whilst you apply for higher-level roles right after graduation
    • See what the top companies in the field require – start by looking for case studies from the big firms, and note what backgrounds and skills their current employees have
    • Get the relevant accreditation – in this case a diploma, or similar, in advertising might give you the practical skills you need
    • Use your contacts – university professors, those you met on work experience, people you can approach through social media or LinkedIn – they’re all potentially the stepping stone to your next role, and they might very well be happy to help you
    How much can graduates earn in Advertising?
    Because there are so many jobs at so many different levels within this industry, you will find a huge variance in salaries.

    When starting out in the industry your salary is likely to be modest, but due to the responsibilities placed upon you and the level of organisation and skill required you could see your pay cheque increase quickly as you progress.

    Average salaries in advertising, according to Pay Scale, are:

    Business development executive – £23,903

    Business development manager – £36,639

    Account executive - £19,999

    Account manager - £26,571

    Copywriter – £23,407

    Senior copywriter - £38,872

    Graphic designer – £24,519

    Social media manager – £25,287

    Brand strategist – £34,398

    Advertising manager - £36,194

    Media planner – £25,390

    Creative director – £48,988
    What qualifications do I need for a career in Advertising?
    Graduates from all degree backgrounds can work in advertising, although those that can straddle both creativity and business are likely to be at an advantage.

    Postgraduate study is not essential but, in the extremely competitive jobs market, a practical qualification could put you at an advantage.

    Graduates from the following disciplines are ideally suited to working in advertising:

    • Advertising
    • Marketing
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Events
    • Fashion
    • English
    • History
    • Social sciences
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