Q&A on Hiring Fresh Graduates for Brand Marketing Work


We ran a quick survey with some of the marketing management winners of Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards (YMMA) on the ‘hirability’ of fresh graduates in their respective companies. We thank the ff. for answering our questions — 1) Lester Estrada, country marketing manager for total hair care of P&G (fresh from his stint in P&G Japan), 2) Candice Iyog, VP-marketing of Cebu Pacific Air 3) Alan Supnet, VP-marketing of SkyCable 4) Cristina Lao, marketing manager of McDonald’s

Q1: When hiring fresh graduates for brand marketing work, what is the process of shortlisting schools from which you intend to recruit talents?  

Lester Estrada (P&G): As much as possible, we don’t apply any bias in our process of accepting marketing hires. As a recruitment leader for P&G marketing, I personally sift through the resumes of all applicants and do not segregate the papers based on their schools. In fact, we don’t even have any course bias. My boss (Marketing Director) was a Computer Science graduate from Ateneo, and another senior leader in marketing was a Biology major.

Rather, I am personally more critical of their body of work in college – are they excelling in academics? Are they student leaders? Did they apply themselves during the past four years – as a working student, as a change agent in their organizations or even as a group leader for their thesis?

Candice Iyog (Cebu Pacific): We don’t screen based on schools and screen more based on skills and aptitude.  Of course, there are some schools that have higher success rates than others.

Alan Supnet (SkyCable): The HR Group of our company has a critical input on shortlisting the candidates. Based on a Manpower Requisition we submit which details the job description, scope of work and the desired qualifications, they usually give me or my Marketing Heads the CVs they feel would fit the requirement. At that point, they have already interviewed the candidate/s and they would normally have a rating sheet and some observations and comments  regarding the job applicant.

In my recent observations, although candidates from the the top 4 schools (UP, La Salle, Ateneo & UAP) would have a fair share of the CVs that would be endorsed to us, it’s not a guarantee that they would be selected. Honor students from reputable provincial universities also have an edge over the others. For the graduates of other colleges and universities, their extra-curricular activities in school coupled with any recent on-the-job training in a company similar to ours could also be a major factor why their CVs would land on our desks for further processing.

Admittedly, given the high volume of graduates every year, competition among job hunters as well as companies like us, sourcing for the right applicant has become quite stiff. Ultimately, the interview process which allows us to probe into what is written in the resume, their outlook towards work and their possessed competencies, would be the main basis of selecting the right candidate for the brand work requirement.

Christina Lao (McDonald’s): There is really no formal process as to how we shortlist the schools where candidates graduate from but having a well-written informative resume really makes a big difference.

But I will not deny that graduates from the top schools like UP, Ateneo, La Salle and UA&P do have some advantage as they are known to producing quality graduates.

Q2: From those who applied but were not accepted in your company, what was lacking in them? 

Lester Estrada (P&G): For P&G, the two biggest things we look for are ‘critical thinking’ and ‘leadership’. These may sound like very big words, but simply, we look for people who are good in finding creative solutions to a problem (critical thinking) – whether it be a business solution for their thesis or a financial or positioning challenge for their org. It is also about how they effectively lead and influence their peers and org mates and set a vision that everyone can strive to achieve. The premise is simple – great student leaders and problem solvers make for great brand builders. And those who don’t make the cut may not exactly exhibit these traits in a very obvious way.

Candice Iyog (Cebu): Extra-curricular activities, leadership experience and project management.  Even if they’re fesh grads, there is always an opportunity in university (or outside university) to practice entrepreneurial or leadership skills in organizations, socio-civic groups, etc.  We look for candidates who can show initiative and willingness to learn.

Alan Supnet (SkyCable): Applicants who fail normally have less things to talk about since their CVs are just below par — they have exhibited mediocre performance in school and they have no or minimal extra-curricular activities. Their communication skills coupled with how they carry themselves during the job interview process play a major factor in the selection. As a Marketing candidiate, a basic requirement is how they can converse in English and Filipino. Since the job will entail both verbal and written coordination with internal (functional groups) and external partes (ad agency/suppliers), it’s a must that they have very good communication skills.

The applicant also really needs to give a very good impression on the 1st 5 minutes of the first encounter with the interviewer. We normally have busy schedules so we want to probe into a candidate really fast. If we don’t hear anything interesting or substantial during those critical 1st 5 minutes then the applicant’s chances of being hired would be quite slim.

Christina Lao (McDonald’s): I would not say that they were not accepted because there was something “lacking” as it will not be fair to judge people based on resume and one interview alone. Let me put it this way, some candidates do not advance to the next level because  they were not able to engage me in an interesting conversation during our short encounter.

Normally, I expect Marketing applicants to be able to engage me in our first 10 mins of conversation. After all, it is what a marketing person is expected to do — to sell convince the consumer why he should buy his product and what’s the best product he can sell at this point but himself.

Q3: Do you have a wish list about fresh graduates so they have a greater chance of getting hired for relevant marketing work in your company?

Lester Estrada (P&G): My wish or advise is simple: as students looking to enter the marketing world, don’t worry so much about dressing up your resume (i.e. how it appears on paper, racking up positions in orgs). Don’t worry about taking the right marketing class or taking extra units. Rather, focus on doing the big things extraordinarily well. This means: 1) choose a passion project or org, then make your mark there, 2) uncover insights in your biggest thesis / senior project and 3) make a difference in your school by challenging the status quo. Marketing is about serving the consumer and creating value for them – you can exhibit this trait in many ways during college. My objective in new hire interviews is to draw out these experiences from the applicants.

Candice Iyog (Cebu): Initiative & Project management / leadership skills

Alan Supnet (SkyCable): Personally, the name of school becomes secondary to me in choosing the right candidate. My wish list would include the new graduate having: a) above average academic performance – it’s quite simple, if they worked hard and excelled in college, it’s more likely that they would also deliver at work; b) active participation in extra-curricular activities – this would show how they were able to balance studying and handling an important role in a school organization; it’s a reflection of how they would be able to juggle the requirements of the day to day work (equated to studying) vs. their personal time (equated to their extra curricular activities; c) a recent on the job work experience (perhaps as an intern or a trainee)  in a reputable company preferably with a written endorsement from their mentor or supervising officer; d) the courtesy to show up on time, be natural & honest and just give their best during the interview & screening process.

Christina Lao (McDonald’s):  Yes, I do have a list of things that I look for in a candidate. To name a few: a) Attitude towards work (should be optimistic and has this go-getter attitude); b) Willingness to unlearn what he knows and learn things new things; c) Resilience and flexibility; d) Ambitious; e) A team player (it is very important that the new hire will fit the existing team)

Q4: 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)

Lester Estrada (P&G): As for current brand people, I would say 90% are coming from UP/Ateneo/La Salle (in very equal splits among the three). The balance 10% would be a mix of UA&P and US/Singapore undergrads (who are Filipino).

Candice Iyog (Cebu): We’re all around marketing people so I don’t have Brand Managers like we have in FMCGs and most of them do come from the top 3-4 schools.

Alan Supnet (SkyCable): Close to 75% of our Brand Heads, Brand Managers & Brand Assistants graduated either from UP, Ateneo, La Salle or UA&P.

But I noticed that as you go down the ranks, less and less people actually belong to the said schools, perhaps indicating the fact that we are starting to be more receptive in hiring newbies who show the highest potential in the field of Marketing, regardless of where they actually graduated.

Christina Lao (McDonald’s):

100% of my marketing team members graduated from UP, Ateneo, La Salle and UA&P.

Q5: What are the strengths of today’s youth that were not there in past generations?

Lester Estrada (P&G): The youth today are more entrepreneurial and digitally savvy. They have all kinds of knowledge at their fingertips, and are more exposed to the world. Because of this, they are more aware of different kinds of campaigns (even outside Philippines), are more conscious of how a corporation is doing their part for the environment, and how to engage consumers outside of TV advertising. This is such an exciting new generation – filled with potential and knowledge. And I am more and more excited to work with these future brand builders

Candice Iyog (Cebu): They’re digital natives and comfortable with technology so they can quickly adapt and respond to change.

Alan Supnet (SkyCable): This is a usual topic of conversation among the executives in our company because we truly noticed that the youth of today has evolved tremendously vis-a-vis our generation. I believe that their early exposure to digital media and easy access to a vast array of content in various formats has allowed them to be more informed about so many things. This rich knowledge, I believe, allows them to be more confident about themselves. They become more outspoken. They become more creative. They become more critical — they do not just accept  things as they are nowadays. They respond to issues and concerns faster allowing them to provide several ways of resolving problems.  In the Marketing field, as the business driver of the company, these characteristics of today’s youth are very important and would come handy as they cope with the changing times and compete head on with their rival brands.

Christina Lao (McDonald’s): This is a difficult question. Most of the candidates that I interview (and most of my team) are Millenials. They are tech savvy and know what they want and do not hesitate to voice them out. It is now just a matter of working out the generation difference to make sure you create a harmonious work environment.


Josiah Go is chair and chief innovation strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. He is also the co-founder, alongside Chiqui Escareal-Go, of the Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards (YMMA) since 2006. The search for the 19th Mansmith YMMA is currently ongoing. For more information, visit www.youngmarketmasters.com.

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Josiah Go features the movers and shakers of the business world and writes about marketing, strategy, innovation, execution and entrepreneurship


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