Getting into the Fast-moving Consumer Goods sector

Does the thought of working with household name brands in a fast-moving environment appeal to you? If so, the FMCG sector could be for you. Senior Careers Consultant Annabelle Cross gives you the low-down on this dynamic sector.

What is the FMCG industry?

The FMCG, or fast-moving consumer goods, industry is a multi-million pound sector incorporating many famous names and household brands.  It may also be referred to as the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry.

The sector deals in everyday items we purchase and can include anything from food products, to toiletries, cosmetics, health and personal hygiene products, household cleaning products as well some electrical items.

The list of organisations below, adapted from the About FMCG website, gives you an idea of the scope of this sector.

Coca-Cola – Famous brands include Coca Cola, Diet Coke, Fanta & Sprite

GSK – Famous brands include Beechams, Corsodyl, Lucozade and Panadol

H. J. Heinz – Famous brands include Heinz Tomato ketchup, Lea and Perrins & HP Sauce

Johnson & Johnson – Famous brands include Johnson’s baby, Neutrogena & Acuvue

Kimberly-Clark – Famous brands include Huggies & Kleenex Products such as Andrex

Kerry Group plc – Famous brands include Walls Sausages, Cheesestrings & Mattessons

L’Oréal – Famous brands include L’Oreal, Maybelline & Garnier New York

Nestlé – Famous brands include Nescafe, Kit Kat & After Eights

Pfizer – Famous brands include Anadin, Careline and Thermacare

Procter & Gamble – Famous brands include Gillette, Pampers, Pringles, Olay & Duracell

Reckitt Benckiser – Famous brands include Dettol, Vanish & Durex

Unilever – Famous brands include Lynx, Sure, Dove Bodycare, PG Tips, Walls Ice Cream

Some of the leading FMCG companies in the world target and recruit University of Leeds students for internships and/or graduate jobs. For example, Unilever offers a number of summer internships at their Seacroft site exclusively for University of Leeds students, and are currently accepting applications for next summer. These can be found on our vacancy site.

What jobs are there?

Due to its fast-moving nature, this sector can offer a dynamic and diverse working environment and recruits people across a whole range of job functions. These can include (but are not limited to):

  • Operational roles – things like General Management, Finance, IT, Information services, Supply Chain Management and Distribution, Human Resources, Sales and Marketing
  • Technical roles – Engineering, Science (for example in Research & Development), Manufacturing

Each company may call these areas something different and some may have other functions (for example Unilever have launched a graduate scheme in packaging to start in 2014), so it is worth doing your research on the companies you are interested in and seeing what they offer.

Graduate jobs in the FMCG industry have a varied salary range, but a generally pretty competitive and offer clear opportunities for progression and career development.

Some companies may offer schemes particularly for MBA and International Students too so do your research.

What skills, qualifications and competencies do I need?

For some roles – particularly the more technical ones – a specific degree subject may be required. However, many recruiters in this sector will welcome applications from graduates of any discipline.

It is a competitive sector, with many organisations jostling for consumers’ attention, so organisations seek employees who can demonstrate innovative and creative thinking, ambition, adaptability, resilience and leadership potential.

Recruiters will be looking for well-rounded individuals who can provide examples to demonstrate their competencies in a range of ways. This could be through work experience, voluntary work, extra- or co-curricular activities, part-time work and so on. Basically anything which has enabled you to develop relevant skills and demonstrate the personal qualities they are looking for.
Final Points

  • Many of the graduate schemes will have closing dates so check these out and make sure you apply as early as you can, as some schemes will close before the advertised closing date if they recruit the calibre and number of graduates they want. Start you research at the beginning of (or before) the academic year prior to the one in which you want an internship/graduate scheme.
  • See the events section of the Careers Centre website. Many FMCG companies visit the Careers Centre and host presentations, skills sessions and drop-in sessions. This is a great opportunity for you to get one to one help and listen from the ‘horses’ mouth’ so to speak.
  • Check you have the right UCAS points before applying as you are unlikely to get past the first stage of selection if you have a short fall.
  • Are you a well rounded individual? Can you demonstrate you have a variety of interests and activities in your life? Do you have work experience that shows your commercial awareness and genuine interest in business? Can you provide examples of when you have taken the lead? Can you demonstrate you business motivation? If you answer no to some of these then do something about it before you apply.
  • Remember to really dig deep and think why you really want to work in an FMCG and just as important, why do you want to work in that particular function (i.e. sales/marketing etc?) You will be asked about this at interview so prepare.
  • Be prepared to answer case scenario questions, i.e. “you role would involve x/y/z… do you think you would deal with that?”
  • Finally, make sure you know the brands of the company you are applying for, and their competitors! Follow the companies on  Facebook, LinkedIn and/or Twitter. Keep up to date with what is happening with them in the news.

Further Resources


Careers Centre

  • The Occupational Information section in our resource room has loads of useful information on all sorts of careers. Use the index to find information relating to specific roles and functions (e.g. Marketing, Research & Development, Engineering, IT etc.)

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