Graduate Stories: Jim Ker, Marketing Executive
We continue our journey through our marketing community with another fresh, graduate story. Jim Ker graduated from Leeds Beckett University with a degree in Music Production back in 2013. Since then, he has gone on to pursue various creative marketing roles and achieved a diploma in Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Alongside his work commitments, Jim is also Financial Services Ambassador on the Yorkshire Regional Board of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and volunteers for the Ahead Partnership, a CIM initiative to help young people with employment advice. It's safe to say that Jim has some seriously good advice to give based on his experiences and we were lucky enough to get him involved to tell his story:
How did you get into marketing in the first place?
My first experience in marketing was during my university internship. I was working for Mercury Records at the time as an A&R intern and subsequently learned a lot about artist development and marketing within the music industry. I found the subject incredibly interesting as well as creatively challenging. My work with Mercury inspired me to pursue marketing in a more formal capacity.
Did your university degree/experience help you when it came to your first marketing job?
My degree is actually in music! However, I did learn a lot of skills through my degree that have been very useful in my marketing career.
How did you identify which area of marketing you wanted to get into?
I was always keen to utilise my creative background so this has been a major factor when making career choices. As things have progressed though, I have skilled up in different marketing disciplines. It’s ok to identify a primary focus, but I wouldn’t want to silo myself too much.
Is there anything you’d have done differently starting out in your career?
I would have researched different sectors more thoroughly as different industries require very different marketing skills and some are much more challenging than others. While a lot of a marketer’s skillset is transferrable across sectors, some will push you down very specific routes – the heavy use of PR in not-for-profits for example. Expanding your skill-set is really healthy, but if there is a particular marketing activity that you don’t like make sure you don’t aim for a job that heavily relies on this in their mix.
What advice do you have for graduates looking to get into marketing?
Join a membership. The resources and networking that you can get from institutes such as the CIM are invaluable. In addition, I would recommend looking at further accreditations pretty early on in your career as these are well received by potential employers. There are also lots of great mentoring opportunities out there and the advice you can receive from these is pretty invaluable.
What advice would you give graduates who are currently searching for their first marketing job?
Don’t forget the basics. Proofread your CV and make sure it stands out. Marketing is a creative industry and you need to portray this in your first impression, so your CV needs to look sharp. Basic CV mistakes and poor/boring presentation will not get you noticed. Also, expect competition for marketing jobs. You will need to stand out from the crowd. Don’t be surprised if your interview is rigorous and includes things like presentations. These can be daunting, especially for a first role after university, but remember, these are your golden opportunities to stand out and impress your potential employer. Make the most of them and see them as a positive rather than a potential barrier.
If you could give your post-graduate-self any piece of advice, what would it be knowing what you know now about the industry?
My advice would be to remember the strategic level skills required in marketing and not over focus on martech. New technology is great, but all tactical level channels are simply tools to implement your initial strategy. If you can’t plan the strategy in the first place, then you can’t make the most of the tools that are available.
Some fantastic advice here from Jim Ker! For more stories and to get inspired about your job search today, check out our #GraduateStories series today.