As part of my guest blogger series, the Burtch Works marketing research team, Karla Ahern and Naomi Keller, will be sharing some of their articles previously published in AMA magazine. In April Karla and Naomi published the following article on the state of the market, who's hiring, and which skills researchers need to stay competitive. You can also check out a video on the AMA site with highlights from the article.
State of the Market 2014
Last summer, we looked closely at trends in market research hiring as the economy moved towards recovery. At that time, we were beginning to see steady growth in job availability as well as a renewed sense of urgency within the marketplace. As more jobs became available, candidates were going on and off the market more quickly, often interviewing and fielding offers from multiple companies. As a result, hiring authorities recognized the need to act fast to snag the best employees and critically evaluate their compensation packages. Most of this activity was happening on the client side in the pharmaceutical, technology and retail industries. In 2014, we’re seeing this growth and urgency continue with some interesting new trends.
First off, we’d be remiss not to address the few rough patches in the landscape. As the economy continues to recover, retail and restaurants have been slow to return. The difficult winter has not helped these industries and some well-known companies have begun taking a hard look at headcount. Additionally, some CPG companies are seeing declines in market share, potentially due to consumer adoption of high quality, lower priced private label brands. However, in the field of market research, consumer behavioral changes inherently represent great opportunities for growth, and investment in research will always illuminate the best strategies to address these changes.
In our conversations with clients this year, a frequent talking point has been their recommitment to the expansion of consumer insights departments. This is great news for the industry as a whole, whether you work on the client or supplier side. Reinvestment in research should ripple throughout the industry and if corporate entities lead the charge, we’ll likely see suppliers and consultants staff up to meet the increased demand. So far, we’re seeing a split as departments expand; some are pulling their research more in-house while others are broadening their research capacity while continuing to outsource to vendors.
As a result of this growth, we’re also starting to see more Director-level roles open up. Last year the majority of openings were at the Manager to Senior Manager-level, but as companies commit to expanding their insights teams, they want experienced market researchers at the helm to guide long-term strategy and growth, and in some cases, help build a consumer insights function from scratch. This trend should prove beneficial for both junior and senior level candidates because as employees move up or out, roles will be back filled, allowing career mobility for junior and mid-level employees.
The expansion of consumer insights teams and the increase in Director level roles appears to also be contributing to an increased need for candidates with direct management experience. From manager roles upward, many of our clients are telling us that they want employees with demonstrated leadership success. Job seekers should be sure to highlight these skills on their resume and during interviews in order to stay competitive. For candidates without direct reports, we recommend emphasizing vendor management and project management experience if applicable.
After the long winter, the signs of continued job growth are clear and confidence is returning to companies and candidates. For those who were waiting out the economic slowdown, now may be a good time to start exploring the market. Even those who aren’t looking for a career change can benefit from understanding how the landscape is changing and how these new trends will affect their current role and their career overall. And as always, a conversation with your specialized recruiter is a great place to start.