Best entry routes into FMCG

17th December 2018

Whether you are a graduate looking to find a position in FMCG, or you are simply interested in changing industries, everyone who is new to the sector needs to find a route in. This is an industry where skills and experience can be far more important than qualifications, but there are many different ways that you can find a role in FMCG. Here we take a look at some of the most important factors in finding an entry route.

How important is experience?

Like in many industries, some FMCG roles require applicants have working experience in a similar role – seemingly making it tough for anyone new to FMCG to land a position. But while experience can be useful in finding FMCG roles, it is actually far more important to have the skills required for the position.

In many cases it can be just as effective to have transferable skills that are going to be relevant in your role, rather than having direct experience of the job.

What is the best experience to have?

An industrial placement year is a great way to get relevant experience as a part of your degree. You will learn key business skills and give you real world examples to potential competency questions in interviews, it may even help shape your view of what you want your first graduate role to look like. Having a year’s experience in a related role as you come out of university will look great on your CV and drive your application to the top of the pile.

If this is something that is offered as part of your course we would strongly recommend it! Even if it is not offered, talk to your university and see if you can incorporate it into your degree.

If you haven’t done a placement year then all is not lost. Finding internships or summer work during or after your studies will show your potential employers that you are not only proactive but have the right skills for the role that you are applying for. It is important to find internships that are closely related to your chosen career path, for example a Marketing Assistant/Intern role if you are looking to forge a career in Marketing or a Brand Ambassador role if you are looking to start your career in Sales.

Lastly if you don’t have a placement year or aren’t able to find any internships then look for roles with a related skillset. You want to show your future employers that you have the necessary skills for the role that you are applying for. A lot of roles have great transferrable skills for the FMCG industry, for example a role in Events Planning shows you have great organisation and communication skills, both of which are key for an Account Management role in FMCG. Similarly a role in retail demonstrates these skills along with an ability to adapt to a variety of customers and working potentially difficult hours.

The overriding factor to take away is that the experience you have or are looking to gain should match the roles that you are looking for. Every bit of relevant experience you can gain will bring you closer to the role that you want.

How does your degree relate to FMCG?

The most important factor when it comes to your degree is your grade. With more and more people attending University each year, competition is higher than ever. Achieving a 2.1 or higher in your degree will unlock so many more potential roles and help differentiate you from other applicants.

There are however some exceptions where your subject matter is just as important as your degree grade. A key example of this is graduate level marketing roles. As these roles are so competitive employers specifically look for graduates with a marketing related degree. Make sure to choose your modules wisely to make sure they relate to the roles that you are looking for

It is not impossible to go into marketing without a marketing degree but it is extremely difficult. This is where your industry related experience comes into account, you will need enough relevant experience to remain competitive with other applicants.

Many degrees can prepare you for an entry level role in FMCG. Degrees such as Nutrition, Psychology, Classics or Finance have great transferrable skills that can be applied to a graduate level role. Employers may question why you have chosen your certain degree when you are applying for a role in another sector, for example a Nutrition Graduate looking to start a career in FMCG sales. In this case the role may be for a Healthy Food Brand and their degree in Nutrition has cemented their passion for Healthy Food and they want to be in and promote a company with those values. Make sure you know why your degree translates to the role that you are applying to.

The impact of hobbies and other interests

Hobbies and other interests are often considered as an afterthought on a CV, but if you are looking for a route into the industry and lack previous experience this can be a great way to show that you are suitable for a role. Even if you already have the relevant experience, a passion and excitement for the industry shown through your hobbies could be the final piece of the puzzle that puts you above other candidates Taking food and drink as an example, you can show off your interest and passion for the industry through your use of social media or by attending local food shows and festivals.

Make sure that the hobbies you mention on your CV are tailored around showing off your interest in the industry.

What roles should you search for?

If you are new to the industry and are wondering what kind of role might suit you best in FMCG, you need to look to yourself for guidance. Think about what you like to do outside of work, as well as where your skills lie. For example, if you are a people person who loves talking to people and building new relationships then a sales role in FMCG can be both extremely rewarding and present excellent career progression opportunities.

If you are looking to get into FMCG it is always helpful to have as much information and as wide a reach as possible. A specialist FMCG recruitment agency has a network ready to be utilised and can offer information on the current job market that could be crucial to your search.

If you are unsure on how best to kick-start your career in FMCG or are looking for your next move get in touch here!