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Fancy a Career in Food? 10 tips on how to land your dream job

Published on: 22 Nov 2017

How do you give yourself the best shot at getting the food career you really want? Ten graduates and apprentices profiled in our My Food Job series share their top tips for landing that dream food job you’re after.

1. Do your research

“Do research on the brands and products you like to get an idea of the organisations behind them. Ask around friends and family and get on board with an fmcg recruitment agency. Choose a company where they will allow you to dip your toes into different areas so you can see which roles suit you best.”

Freya Harrison, commercial executive, Belazu

2. Use your youth to your advantage

“Think about how the industry is going to change in the next five to 10 years and what role you want to play in that. From my experience, fresh thikning and competition is in the atmosphere, so embrace your youth and sell them a new perspective!”

Marisol Saona, brand manager at Tesco

3. Look beyond traditional career options

“Consider an apprenticeship. Look beyond traditional career paths. Many companies, including Mondelez, have graduate schemes and apprenticeships in manufacturing, R&D and even finance. Ask questions. Be curious, motivated and enthusiastic about the industry, and be prepared to learn and discover every working day.”

Jack Rogers, technician, Mondelez

4. Be keen and be seen

”My motto is ‘Be keen and be seen’. Try to get any work experience you can to help you decide what part of industry you want to work in, and always follow up with a thank you email.”

Samuel Higginson, graduate food technologist, M&S

5. Get some work experience

”Get in contact with food manufacturers or companies involved in the food industry to ask for some work experience or a placement. Try to gain an insight into multiple areas and functions as there are lots of areas within the food industry to go into. The more experience you have, the better chance you have of going down the path that is right for your career.”

Josh Strauss, software engineer, OAL

Sarah MacLellan, Cotswolds Distillery

Sarah MacLellan is loving her job as a distiller - and says being proactive and talking to people was key to her landing her dream role

6. Talk to as many people as you can

“Be proactive in talking to people already in the industry. One thing I’ve learned about people in this line of work is that they are almost all incredibly helpful and accommodating. Introduce yourself to people via email, show people how passionate you are. A lot of them will recognise your passion (as they have it too) and will want to help. Having the right qualifications can help but it is by no means an essential requirement.”

Sarah MacLellan, distiller, Cotswolds Distillery

7. Make your own luck

”Contact companies whose ethos or foods you rate. Don’t just wait longingly until they advertise a position.”

Elle Ponsonby, marketing, Rude Health

8. Keep an open mind

“Be open to any opportunities in the food and drink industry. Within any food & drink business or organisation, there so many different paths and routes that you can take. Don’t rule anything out! I spent the first year of my graduate programme working in a coffee factory, which I was dreading because I can’t stand coffee. But it was a fantastic experience and looking back I definitely wouldn’t change it.”

Emma Nicholson, conformance manager, Nestlé

9. Follow your passion

“Young people in the UK have grown up with a better understanding of nutrition and more access to food and drink than ever before. Big brands are making movements to adapt to the changing demands of their customers, whilst startups are popping up all the time to disrupt the industry with innovative ideas. Find something you’re passionate about and get in touch, don’t just wait for vacancies.”

Max Head-Lee, managing director, SourcedBox

10. Know what’s right for you

“If you are really into your food and have a relevant degree in food science, I would 100% recommend you look at pursuing a role within the food industry. Even after just under four years within the industry, I know it is where I want to stay. There are so many opportunities as well, especially working for a major retailer like Tesco. If there is a role you may not be keen on, I guarantee you will find the perfect role somewhere else within the business.”

Charley Nightingale, poultry technologist, Tesco