The Chartered Institute of Marketing is the world’s largest organisation for professional marketers. It plays a key role in setting industry standards, training and also offers accredited, practice-based qualifications from introductory to advanced level.
Undoubtedly, additional training won’t do any harm to your own personal development, but is a CIM certificate actually necessary in securing a new marketing job in today’s industry? And, in a continually evolving media landscape, is the role of up-to-date, hands-on experience much more important to employers than a qualification?

Is CIM training worth it?

Some might argue that few marketing vacancies actually specify the need to have a CIM qualification in their job spec. It will entirely depend on the employer in question – some may see it as the norm for a serious marketer, while others may give it very little weight.  However, even if the qualification is not a prerequisite for the role, that’s not to say it wouldn’t be an impressive addition to your CV, particularly if there are several candidates with very similar experience all vying for the same marketing job.
There’s no doubt that the CIM offers internationally recognised and respected qualifications. It’s also true that a qualification may not be considered essential for all marketing jobs, so you do have to weigh up its value in your particular circumstances. For example, if you have no official education in marketing and hold a degree in an unrelated subject – CIM training could certainly be a good, and sensible, option for making the move into marketing. If you already have a marketing degree or extensive experience (or both) then it would seem that an additional qualification may not add more value.

An expert’s view

Liz Hopkins, director of Michael Page Marketing, comments on the debate of qualifications over experience:
“My perception would be that the CIM qualification is respected, and particularly if someone doesn't have a marketing / business related degree, then it helps to formalise some theory to back up practical experience. In general though, employers seem to favour making decisions on candidates based on the actual marketing experience on the CV and synergy of the business/industry they have worked in, rather than being as concerned about whether someone has a CIM qualification or not.”

Filling a gap

If your experience to date has not covered a certain area of marketing and you’re keen to gain specific skills, a CIM qualification could help you fill in the gaps. For example, you may have extensive experience in more traditional marketing techniques but may not have had much contact with digital or mobile marketing in your organisation. This is where a specialist course in these areas could help to address a knowledge vacuum.
When it comes to increasing digital expertise, many marketing professionals are now looking towards the IDM (institute of direct and digital marketing) to help expand their skill set. The IDM has a worldwide reputation as the leading professional body for the development of direct, data and digital marketing. The institute is dedicated to keeping the marketing profession abreast of new media practices and offers a wide range of relevant, up-to-the-minute training courses. According to the IDM, 85% of graduates believe that their IDM qualification has enhanced their careers.
Experience is obviously favoured highly by employers – but this can result in a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario. If employers are always keen to see a proven track record, it can be hard to initiate the relevant experience in the first place. Additional training alongside a current role could help you move upwards into a new, more specialised area.

Is there international benefit?

The CIM is recognised by international businesses, so an association with it could prove useful if you’re planning to seek work abroad. A professional qualification from the CIM could work in your favour, by giving you an edge over other candidates with a similar level of experience.  Foreign recruiters may feel more secure in taking on a candidate with training credentials that they recognise.

Is there monetary benefit?

According to the CIM’s own Marketing Rewards Survey (which is published annually by leading pay and benefits consultancy Croner) the average Chartered Institute Marketing member earns around 10% more than a non-qualified member over the course of their career.
There’s absolutely no guarantee that this qualification will enhance your earning potential, it will be a combination of factors and a certain amount of luck, but it’s a statistic worth sharing.

In summary...

The CIM is a well respected qualification which could be beneficial if you’re looking to break into marketing from another discipline or to fill a knowledge gap in your CV. It’s often looked upon favourably by UK and international employers alike – but isn’t always an essential must-have for new roles.
Past experience and a proven track record is typically more important to employers than a certificate, but a combination of the two could be a winning formula, as Liz Hopkins suggests,
“It seems that the CIM qualification is held in high regard with people and the ultimate summation seems to be that work experience is extremely important to clients, but a solid qualification to back this up adds weight to any job application.”
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For more information on CIM qualifications, visit their website.