The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry is one of the most attractive sectors to work in, due to the innovation, diversity of roles involved and access to personal and professional development. Because of this, graduate roles in the FMCG industry are highly sought-after, and competition among applicants is stiff.
There are ways to address the challenge of entering the industry, like preparing as early as possible, or studying for a relevant degree, but there are other methods you can explore as well. Here are some such ways!
Graduate training schemes
What it is: Although competition to land available spots here is incredibly tough, it’s still a good place to start. It’s good to have a clear idea of the schemes offered by the company, and how you can benefit from it, though. To that end, take note to also consider the following factors about graduate training schemes.
Length of the scheme: How long is the scheme? Six months? A year? Also, does it consist of a number of different placements in various departments?
Variety: Do the programmes allow you to rotate across different departments to give you a broad overview of how the business works? Or does it only introduce you to the entire workings of one department?
Location: Would the scheme require you to work abroad for a while? If it does, are you willing to relocate, especially now in the middle of a pandemic?
What you need to know: While applications for graduate schemes usually open between August to September, there are companies who also accept applications year-round. Most importantly, do your research on the company and application requirements. Although application deadlines are also given, take note to submit yours early – some companies stop accepting applications once they’ve either hit a certain number of candidates, or fill available spots.
How to get a leg up: Keep in mind that most FMCG companies are international players, so having language skills, a global perspective and a willingness to work abroad can boost your chances!
Internships and work placements
What it is: If you’re worried about not being able to secure a place in graduate training schemes, another way to set yourself apart from other applicants is to gain experience through an internship or a work placement while you’re still a student. Toughing it out at an internship or work placement in the FMCG industry usually shows recruiters that you have a clear idea of what you’ll be getting into, and your resilience and ability to work in the fast-paced work environment most companies have.
If you’re working towards getting a full-time position through your internship or work placement, be sure to set yourself apart from the others positively. Find some tips here!
What you need to know: Internships and work placements are often used as a recruitment tool, so look out for them. Most companies offer internships and work placements to students in their penultimate year. To submit your application for one, you can start by visiting campus career advisors, who’ll be able to connect you to the right opportunities.
How internships or work placements give you a leg up: You’ll gain insights into the company and industry before you submit your application when you’ve completed your degree, and you’ll also show recruiters your determination to enter the industry!
Company competitions and challenges
What it is: FMCG companies are well-known for their commitment to scouting and developing talents, as they need the innovation they can offer. To that end, top players such as Unilever, P&G, Nestlé and L’Oréal run business case competitions and innovation challenges globally to identify prospective employees.
These challenges are usually open to university students of all disciplines, as FMCG companies take in a wide range of degrees. Recruiters will then look through applications and shortlist those who have the creativity and analytical skills they find desirable.
Fun fact: Notable competitions and challenges include Unilever Future Leaders League, P&G’s CEO Challenge, Nestlé-NUS Innovation Challenge and L’Oréal Brandstorm Challenge.
How company competitions and challenges give you a leg up: While winning these competitions may be tough, just participating can go a long way in showing prospective recruiters your genuine interest in joining the sector. So, keep an eye out for such challenges while you’re still in university, join them and treat them as opportunities to learn!
What it is: Speculative applications target the 70% of jobs that aren’t advertised. Some of these jobs are in a niche area (pet products), or are still unfilled, but the standard application window for graduate training schemes (if a company’s intake period is specific) has passed.
What you need to know: New graduate opportunities always come up throughout the year, not just during recruitment windows. And if a company needs to recruit, they’ll consider taking you in. Otherwise, companies may not even know that they need your skill set until you show them what you have and explain how it’ll benefit them.
Give yourself a leg up: Before you start sending out emails to every employer in sight, master the art of the speculative application. This includes getting a solid understanding of the prospective employer (through industry magazines, newspapers and websites), and then making personal contact with the department in charge of recruitment. After you’ve sent in your application, be sure to follow up!
Although landing a graduate job in the FMCG industry does include working hard to gain the positive sort of notice, you can work smart too. While these methods aren’t the be-all-and-end-all, they give you a base to start connecting with employers!