student life

Is it harder to get a graduate job in the creative industries?

Creative job
Written by Jade Kidd

This is perhaps one of the most widely debated topics amongst university leavers and industry employers alike. Is it really harder to gain a graduate position in the creative industries as opposed to any other? Well, as a recent graduate myself, I’ll let you into a little secret. It really is.

You may be an aspiring journalist like myself, or want to work in social media, fashion, or graphic design, and you may have worked extremely hard to gain your degree. However, the realisation that your peers, who perhaps studied business, law or social care will gain a graduate job before you, will hit you harder than you think.

For many years, the most popular piece of advice for a graduate seeking an opportunity within the creative industries has been ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. Or the second favourite ‘work experience is valued far more than a degree in this industry’. In some ways, I understand what this means because 90% of the graduate positions I have applied for have asked for experience beyond just university work.

Survey Results

As part of my investigation into proving whether this is truly the case for graduates starting their careers in the creative industries, I surveyed 50 graduates with creative/media degrees and 50 graduates with degrees in other areas. The aim was to find out which group gained the most graduate jobs within six months of leaving university.

The results find that of the 50 graduates with creative/media degree, only 21 secured graduate positions within six months. Comparatively, 40 of the 50 graduates with degrees in other areas gained graduate positions within six months.

Interestingly enough, of the 21 who gained a graduate position within the creative/media industry, 18 lived or were originally from London. This is fascinating as it highlights the lack of creative/media opportunities around the country as London is often seen as the hub.

What Jobs to go for within the creative industries

Normally, as a graduate, you will be looking for entry-level positions. According to the Prospects website, these positions will usually be at assistant level. Marketing Assistant, Editorial Assistant, Production Runner, Social Media Assistant, Media Researcher, Junior Graphic Designer etc.

Advice on Job Hunting

However, if you want my advice, there are five key areas to target when looking for a position in the creative industry.

  1. Seek Work Experience: This invaluable as not only does it show initiative, it also builds your experience – and you never know, you might get a permanent position out of it.
  2. Send a speculative CV and covering letter: This is extremely important as companies may need your skills and thus offer you work experience or a position they are currently not advertising publicly for. Also, your CV is usually kept on file for future opportunities. According to the Prospects website, there are a range of companies you can apply to. Some of these include: Bloomberg, BuzzFeed, the Telegraph Media Group, Endemol Shine UK, Wall to Wall, HarperCollins UK, BBC, Channel 4 etc.
  3. Apply for Graduate Schemes: Graduate schemes can be vital for breaking into large corporations. They are specifically designed to help you hone your skills and learn about the industry. As a journalism graduate, I have applied for schemes run by the BBC, Sky, CNN, The Guardian etc.
  4. Go freelance, network, and put your work online: When trying to break into this industry it is important to network and get noticed. If you have made an amazing audio video piece. Or written a great article – get it published online or put it on your own website. Promote it on social media and LinkedIn. By doing this, you are ensuring that your work reaches the maximum amount of people.
  5. Use specific agencies/websites: Using big agencies can often become tiring as jobs within the creative industries are not usually advertised on there. So you may be wondering, well where do I look? Fear no more because I have made a list of the best:

When gaining a position in the creative industries, it is extremely important for you to showcase your commitment. This is why so many people say unpaid work experience is valued so highly. However, in this technologically advanced world, this can sometimes not be enough. Especially for journalists as you must show that you can not only write articles but operate websites, create audio and video content and use social media. Ultimately, if you possess the passion and the skill set, no one can stop you! – Good Luck!