Q&A on Hiring Fresh Graduates for Brand Marketing Work

Last 2015, we conducted a survey on  the ‘hirability’ of fresh graduates with the marketing heads of some of the biggest companies in the Philippines. We thank Albet Buddahim, vice president and chief marketing officer of the Primer Group of Companies, and Ampy Rio, chief marketing officer of Nutriasia, for answering our updated edition.

Q1: When hiring fresh graduates for brand marketing work, what do you look for in the background of candidates? 

Albet: My talent recruitment principle has always been to find the perfect fit which means finding the right talent based on their capability, competency and career interest and then finding the right role, level and department where both they and the company will grow together.

In the Marketing department of PRIMER Group of Companies, we want to attract Top (High performing, High potential) talents, who aspire to become great in 5 to 10 years. To achieve this goal, we look for 5 things when hiring fresh graduates for brand and marketing roles: 1) Disciplined Mind or has academic achievements, 2) Discipline in leading fellow students, 3) Desire to pursue a Marketing Career, 4) Grit to Succeed, 5) Culture fit to the team

We strive to build a world-class marketing team and we keep in mind learnings from various sources, such as the Good-To-Great book by Jim Collins with the 3 disciplines (Disciplined Mind, Disciplined Actions, Disciplined People) needed for a breakthrough success.

Ampy: When hiring fresh graduates for brand marketing, some of the things I typically look for in candidates’ backgrounds are:

  1. Leadership and teamwork: Brand marketing work often requires collaboration and leadership skills, so candidates who held leadership positions in school or extracurricular activities are considered.
  2. Demonstrated skills in resiliency & marketing relevant competencies.  I normally consider candidates who have developed relevant skills through coursework or other exposures/ experiences in areas such as social media management, content creation, market research, project management, and data analysis.
  3. Passion for marketing: I put a lot of consideration for candidates who demonstrate a genuine passion for marketing and brand management, as this will likely translate into greater enthusiasm and dedication in the workplace.
  4. Relevant degree:  This is a basic thing that I also put into consideration — degree in a relevant field, such as marketing, advertising, business, or communications.
  5. Internship or work experience: Candidates who have completed internships or have some work experience in a related field are also considered

Q2: What is the process of shortlisting schools from which you intend to recruit talents?  

Albet: We are data-driven at PRIMER Group and we do an annual evaluation of our talent sources based on companies, backgrounds and schools.  As a parameter, we also look into our current organization and evaluate our talent’s productivity, progression, potential for growth, role/level in the company and see trends and patterns based on their previous companies, schools and background.

Then, based on shortlisted schools we proactively recruit the top officers from their University JMA (Junior Marketing Association) all the way to the National federation of JMA’s.

Beyond the schools, it’s really about the talent or person. We are always looking for Play-to-Win (competitive, has grit) talents and who continuously build their Right-to-Win (Capabilities, Competency and Capacity for more work/growth). This is the reason why we have been recruiting student winners from the following inter-University competitions such as:

  1. MarkProf’s Top 25 Marketing Management Trainees
  2. Agora Youth Awards winners
  3. PANAnaw student competition winners

Based on these hiring processes and principles, we hire talents from all over Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao.

Ampy: We do not have a process for shortlisting schools.  But our hiring activities involving schools generally includes:  

  1. Internship partnerships – We partner with mostly business schools for internship opportunities for their students.
  2. Attending career fairs: Many schools host career fairs where we participate and meet with students and share information about job opportunities.

Q3: What are common pitfalls of job applicants who failed to meet your hiring standards?

Albet: There are 3 steps of applicant screening at PRIMER Group of Companies and I will share how we screen the talent we hire at every step.

Step 1 is screening the Resumes or CVs to job fit and meeting qualifications. At this level, the common pitfalls are:

  1. Errors in spelling, as we expect the CV to have been reviewed several times by the applicant that all errors are fixed. This is aligned to the expectation of high-quality work we expect from Ka-Primers
  2. Lack of creativity and professionalism in the CV format, especially if they are applying for a Marketing or Brand role
  3. Not being able to highlight how they are qualified for the role, based on the Job posting and JD
  4. Showcasing a job hopper profile where one has moved to 3 companies (or more) for the last 3 years
  5. Not showing any achievements (no honors and did not join any school activity, org project and no personal hobby or interest)

Step 2 is the interview with the Talent acquisition team and common pitfalls at this stage are:

  1. Showing up late during the interview 
  2. Not knowing enough about our company | at least, visited the website to know our Brands, History, the business and our values (Question: why would you want to apply or join our company)
  3. Not understanding well, the job description and qualified (Question: why are you the perfect talent / applicant to consider for the job)
  4. Expecting salary is too high for a fresh graduate and expecting to become a manager in 1 year
  5. Having No questions when asked, “do you have any questions for me?” (We hire proactive professionals)

Step 3 is the Hiring Manager interview and below are the common pitfalls at this stage for Fresh graduates:

  1. Not enough interest in the brand, product and in the company
  2. Had difficulty communicating one’s experiences and ideas during the interview
  3. As a fresh graduate, expecting that they will have an assistant
  4. Not willing to do the manual / admin work, as an entry level fresh graduate
  5. Did not have a pleasing personality during the interview (must build rapport with the interviewer, especially if it’s the hiring manager)

Ampy: Based on my experience, some common pitfalls of job applicants  who failed to meet our standards are as follows:

  1. Lack of preparation: Applicants who have not prepared adequately for the application or interview process struggle to meet hiring standards. This can include not researching  about the company (NAI) or the position being applied for , or not being able to answer basic questions about their qualifications.
  2. Poor communication skills: Communication skills are critical, and applicants who struggle with this, I normally see as less qualified. This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as not being able to articulate their thoughts clearly in interviews, among others.
  3. Negative attitude or behavior:  I also drop applicants with negative attitudes.  This may include things like, badmouthing previous employers, or making inappropriate comments or gestures.

Q4: Do you have a wish list (of competencies, behaviors, etc.) for fresh graduates so they have a greater chance of getting hired for relevant marketing work in your company?

Albet: For Fresh graduates, we are looking the following

  1. Play-to-Win behavior
  2. Right-to-Win capabilities/competencies

A fresh graduate with a Play-to-Win behavior is someone who strives to perfect the exams, joined competitions, attended seminars, involved with the student associations, had a successful internship (even if it’s not required by school), and has high personal / professional dreams.

Amongst the Play-to-Win fresh graduates, we match them to the right competency department such as (1) Creatives & Comms; (2) Retail & Activation; and (3) Digital Marketing and eCommerce. Strategic planning roles are available after they become seasoned professionals with experience and knowledge of what works in the business, marketplace, etc.

Ampy: Yes,  I do have a default list of what I look for in a fresh graduate that I want to hire, the top ones are as follows:

  1. Analytical skills: Marketing is all  about numbers, data and understanding them .  Every new idea or initiative in Marketing is borne out of data.  Candidates who have strong analytical skills and are comfortable working with data capture my attention and get priority in hiring considerations. 
  2. Strong communication skills: Communication is very important.   Those who can articulate their ideas clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing are people we want to have as part of our team.
  3. Creativity: Candidates who can demonstrate creativity and out-of-the-box thinking are also attractive to us.
  4. Adaptability: The marketing landscape is constantly evolving, and we need marketers who can adapt to new technologies, trends, and consumer preferences. Candidates who are flexible and can quickly learn new skills are people we gravitate to.
  5. Collaborative mindset: Marketing often requires working with cross-functional teams, such as Business Teams, agencies R&D, sales teams. Candidates who have experience partnering with others and can work effectively in a team would also have an advantage in terms of being considered for a marketing role.  
  6. Passion for marketing: I also  put much value on candidates who demonstrate a genuine passion for marketing and brand management.

Q5: What are the strengths  of today’s youth that were different or did not exist in past generations?

Albet: Today’s youth strengths that we highly appreciate at PRIMER Group of Companies, are:

  1. Digital savvy. They can do TikTok and even create Marketing event videos using their mobile phone alone. They will leverage technology to increase the value of our services and products to our customers.
  2. Digital nomads. They can do work anywhere, where they are in the office, in our stores, activation venues, to the mountain or to the beach. They have an effective work-life integration and are aligned to a pay-for-performance principle.
  3. Innovative. They embrace change with a healthy disrespect and discontent for the status quo. The pushing the boundaries to make work and life easier for everyone.

Ampy: Today’s youth bring unique set of strengths and perspectives that set them aside from past generations:

  1. Digital fluency: The youth of today are digital natives.  They are the first generation to grow up with ubiquitous access to technology, and they are often highly skilled in using digital tools and platforms. They are  comfortable with change and able to adapt quickly to new technologies & trends. This is an advantage in a rapidly evolving marketing landscape
  2. Entrepreneurial mindset: Many young people today are interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, and they often bring a creative and entrepreneurial spirit to their work in marketing.
  3. Diversity and inclusion: Today’s youth are more diverse and inclusive than past generations, and they often have a greater understanding of and sensitivity to issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and other forms of identity. This can help brands connect with a wider range of audiences and create more inclusive campaigns and initiatives.
  4. Environmental consciousness: Today’s youth are often more aware of and concerned about environmental issues than previous generations, and many are actively working to drive sustainability , exploiting this in driving  brand love and affinity from their consumers.

Q6: Other than expats, approximately how many percent of your current brand people in the Philippines graduated from the top 3-4 schools? (This means UP/ Ateneo/ LaSalle/etc pls specify the 4th if applicable)

Albet: We are a Group of Companies operating in several countries globally, with a mission of bringing the world close to our customers.

Although we have other companies in the Philippines, the Brand role is unique to the Philippine Retail team. We manage and market multiple brands in the Philippines. The list is on our website.  These brands are managed by our Brand team, where 65% come from the 4 schools below: De La Salle = 41%, UST 12%, UP 10%, and Ateneo 2%. 

Having several DLSU graduates is a proximity advantage of PRIMER Group being one block away from DLSU-Taft. Over many years, PRIMER Group received hundreds of internship applications from the DLSU-Taft and several have stayed with the company to SBU or Function Head roles in the company.

Ampy: 89% of my team members (27) are from the top 3 schools


Albet Buddahim will talk about “Leveraging digital and social media channels: Using a variety of online tools and platforms to build brand awareness, engagement and loyalty.” during the 4th Mansmith Brand Summit on July 5-6, 2023. For details, please visit https://brandsummit.com.ph


Josiah Go is chair and chief innovation strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. 

See more articles on Brand Marketing.

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