This post is contributed by Karla Ahern and Kit Nordmark, Burtch Works’ marketing research recruiting experts.
A New Year often brings new career resolutions. At the beginning of every year we see an increase in the number of marketing researchers who are interested and willing to make a change as they reevaluate their goals and explore potential options. Whether you’re considering a career change this year or happy where you are, we want to provide some insights on salary negotiations, job offers, and career management, with a lens specific to the marketing research hiring market.
1. Be transparent! – First and foremost, be open with your recruiter, human resources contact, or hiring manager. Be honest about your current salary and compensation package, as well as what you’re willing to accept. It’s always a delicate dance – you don’t want to unknowingly price yourself out of their range – but if an opportunity reaches the offer stage, the company may ask to check your salary against a pay stub, so lying can have disastrous consequences.
2. Know your market value. – It’s important to have an idea of your current market value as you’re negotiating your salary. If you’re unsure of where you may fall, we publish a salary study specific to the marketing research industry that distinguishes professionals by job level, region, education, and more (which you can download here). Part of negotiating your salary also requires an understanding of corporate salary bands. Sometimes salaries at larger organizations are strictly defined and no matter how much a hiring manager may advocate for you, there may simply be a ceiling they can’t exceed.
3. Craft a compelling story. – When the time comes to discuss salary, make sure you have specific reasons and examples that help illustrate why you deserve the amount you’re seeking. You’ll need to articulate the value you’ll bring to the team, as well as the impact you’ve had in the past and will have on their organization, demonstrating a clear connection between their needs and your anticipated performance in the role.
4. Highlight your diverse experience. – In marketing research, hiring managers tend to value professionals with hands-on experience across a variety of insights roles. Make sure to highlight the breadth of data, projects, and methodologies you’ve worked with as well as the industries you’ve touched to show your versatility. Managerial experience can be a bonus, so if you’ve had direct reports, it can pay off to highlight it. And if you’ve helped to build a research team or a particular insights function from scratch, that’s another skill that many hiring managers will appreciate.
5. Lateral moves are more common than you think. – Unlike some other fields, it is quite common within marketing research to make a lateral move, or even take a step back, to open up long-term career opportunities. In the interest of diversifying your experience, a strategic and deliberate lateral move may be worth it to break into a new industry and will likely pay off significantly in the long run. For example, if you’ve only worked with syndicated data or within CPG so far in your career, you might want to consider a lateral move to gain hands-on primary market research experience or learn a new industry such as technology or retail.
6. Evaluate the entire opportunity. – Base salary is a critical piece of the puzzle, but it’s important to look at the bigger picture and take the full package into consideration. Other key factors you’ll want to take into account for any opportunity you’re evaluating include the role itself, scope of responsibility, opportunity to gain exposure with new methodologies or industries, team structure, company culture, work/life balance, and opportunities for career growth.
7. Negotiate tactfully. – In addition to salary, it’s also helpful to think about other points when negotiating. For example, if you’re hoping to negotiate your compensation but the firm can’t budge because of a salary band, they might have some flexibility in other areas such as additional time off, a sign-on bonus, or relocation assistance. Though if you’re serious about an opportunity, it’s important not to draw a line in the sand – some give and take is common, but if you stand firm behind a particular demand, there’s always a chance the company could decide to walk away. One thing to consider before you go down the negotiation path, if you do negotiate and your potential new employer meets your “asks,” you should be prepared to accept the offer. There’s nothing that can leave a more sour taste in an employer’s mouth than an offer that’s turned down after they’ve spent hours or days getting approvals to meet your requests.
8. Gracefully navigate multiple offers. – If you’re actively interviewing with several companies, you may find yourself with multiple offers on the table. Navigating these waters can be tricky, but the best outcome is dependent on honesty and clear communication throughout the process. If you leverage one offer against the other, be upfront about the total compensation package and other opportunities the role might afford you. At this point, the company you’re turning down will likely be disappointed to be losing you to another offer, so explaining your thought process can help ease the letdown. With the popularity of social networking tools and LinkedIn, the marketing research community is even more connected than before, so managing your professional reputation is critical to long-term success.
9. Never accept an offer unless your decision is made. – Do not accept until you’ve fully considered the offer and are ready to turn down all other options, including potential counter offers from your current employer. If you don’t have a competing offer but believe you’re worth more than the company has offered you, make an appeal to your recruiter or HR contact. Like most things in life, you’ll likely make better progress by asking rather than demanding!
Understanding how to successfully negotiate your salary and manage job offers is an important skill that will come in handy throughout your marketing research career. And, for a potential employer, it also provides an indication of your tenacity, but just as importantly, your ability to compromise.
Interested in our salary research on marketing research and consumer insights professionals? Download our studies using the button below.
You can also check out our webinar on YouTube or our 13-minute RECAP video below, where we shared top insights from our latest salary report report as well as additional insights including 6-year salary trends, hiring trends, and implications for both researchers and employers!
We hope this information was helpful! If you’re looking to hire marketing research or consumer insights talent, or looking for new opportunities, be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn (Karla Ahern and Kit Nordmark).