Career patterns of those working within the industry are altering, widely due to convergence and the introduction of the internet. “In 2008, 16 million households in Great Britain (65 per cent) had Internet access. This is an increase of just over 1 million households (7 per cent) over the last year and 5 million households (46 per cent) since 2002” (http://www. statistics. gov. uk). Due to such a rise, there are a vast number of new challenges and opportunities within the advertising industry. Online advertising is expected to overcome TV expenditure by 2010, being second to press advertising.
(Advertising Association’s Advertising Statistics Yearbook 2008, advertising association, news release, Monday 9th June, WARC,). Press is the largest medium regarding advertising expenditure, attracting 40% of all advertising in 2008. TV follows with 24%, while internet comes in at nearly 16%. Although internet has brought opportunity for advertisers, it has also brought great challenge. The web is fragmented and non-linear, unlike traditional media platforms and it becomes even more difficult to pinpoint the whereabouts of consumers.
The current global financial crisis is another factor which is profoundly altering consumer trends. According to the Office for National Statistics (Harris, 2008: 2), overall spending has increased by just over four percent since 2007, which is a lower increase compared with previous years. The rise is likely due to a lower number of instances where people are spending which sellers are substituting by increasing prices. For example, less people are buying houses these days but overall spending here has still increased by sixteen percent since 2007.
With higher prices comes the need for very proficient advertising and those working in the industry will need extreme competence. Indicators point to a decline in advertising in most industries, and this is particularly the case with newspapers. Revenue from traditional recruitment advertising has decreased, however, “Employment in the industry is expected to grow 22 percent through 2014, compared with 14 percent for all industries combined… On the other hand, employment growth may be tempered by the increase of efficient non print media advertising, such as internet or radio, which could replace some workers” (Camenson, 2007: 147).
With the rate of technological change and the internet, employers are now in search of flexible and highly proficient employees, meaning new opportunities for graduates looking to enter the field. The Institute of Practitioners of Advertising (IPA) is the UK’s leading advertising trade body. It promotes the values of agencies and is a member site to the top agencies within the UK (http://www. ipa. co. uk). This site would prove particularly useful to a graduate looking to enter the industry as it has job vacancy postings of a vast number of companies and annually publishes its “Graduate Factfile.
This is an online listing of all the ad agencies looking to recruit new intake of graduates” (Neidle, 2002: 117). In addition, some of the agencies offer graduates training programmes, details of which are also published in the Graduate Factfile. There are also a wide range of websites which are invaluable to graduates, such as ‘the graduate’ (http://www. thegraduate. co. uk). This offers career advice and has a list of posted vacancies of various employers in search of graduate applicants. One can also search for placements if they are looking for relevant experience.
A career progression in an advertising agency evidently depends on the structure of the agency in question and the specific division one is looking to enter for work. The typical career path of a graduate working in client services or account management in a large firm is as follows: graduate trainee > junior executive > supervisor/ manager > director > group director > board director (2002: 14). Naturally, a graduate level candidate, as with anyone first entering the industry, will most likely have to start at the bottom as a trainee or copywriter and work their way up the career ladder.
Work experience is one of the most effective approaches to finding a job in the advertising industry, and it “is arguably the most important element of them all” (VGM Career Books [Firm], 2003: 4). Work experience currently available is vast. One form of work experience is a summer internship which, like all forms of work experience, is often unpaid. However, such opportunities expose candidates to the real work environment while also providing opportunity to gain a professional reference and valuable network contacts. This can lead to a temporary, permanent or contract position upon graduation.
A graduate can also take on voluntary or paid work experience where they shadow a professional in the field and obtain an idea of the type of work involved. The nature of it will obviously depend on the agency as well as the particular facet of advertising one is looking into. Overall, there have been changes to trends in the industry which will create difficulty for graduates, but it will also instigate new opportunities, particularly in the field of internet advertising. Employers will be keen to find determined and quick-minded employees, and although competition is fierce, graduates should thrive in trying to achieve.