Advertising involves producing information designed to persuade people to buy products or services. Advertisers work with their clients to formulate a brief and then plan, design and produce an effective advertising campaign. They ensure the campaign achieves maximum impact by planning the timing, placement and targeting of the campaign's delivery to its chosen media. Advertisers use a range of innovative techniques to engage and inspire customers.

The majority of positions within advertising are in London but there are also openings in other major cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow. There are many different types of agencies, the main ones being: creative, media, digital, search and integrated.

Roles within advertising range from the creative, such as copywriting and art direction to the more administrative, such as account planning and account management. Most positions are open to graduates with degrees in any subject but competition for places is intense and you will need to demonstrate that you understand what the different roles involve.

It’s important if you are interested in the creative roles that you begin to build up an online portfolio of your work, through volunteering or creating your own blog or website. Do some research into online portfolio platforms to see what would suit you best, and don’t forget to promote your work through your mainstream social media accounts to generate interest.

Getting into the role

A number of the larger advertising agencies offer graduate training programmes, often with closing dates in October and November. Entry points onto these programmes are normally for account executive and account planner positions.

Smaller agencies often don't advertise and your best tactic is to send them a speculative letter and CV. If you use this approach, then you often need to be flexible in terms of the entry position you are willing to accept. Many graduates with successful careers in advertising began in administrative roles and worked their way up from within.

  • Try to get as much relevant work experience as you can. Look for work experience placements and opportunities on the IPA website.
  • Work shadowing or a short meeting with a practitioner will help you to gain more insight. Use the IPA agencies list to obtain contact details for speculative applications.
  • Develop your commercial awareness. Research agency types and their client lists. Look at recent campaigns and demonstrate that you can critically analyse the message, the target audience and the placing policy.
  • Start networking to build contacts. Attend events, read and comment on advertising blogs, follow advertising professionals on Twitter and join a professional body.

Find out more about advertising careers and jobs