This post is contributed by Kit Nordmark, Burtch Works’ marketing research and consumer insights recruiting specialist.
This is the second installment of our two-part resource for writing better marketing research and insights job descriptions. Part 1 covered the role itself: focusing on how to build a job description, what tasks and responsibilities to incorporate, and how to think about tailoring the description for a specific role.
In part 2, we’re shifting gears and providing examples of qualifications and skillsets that are required or ideal vs. those that may be preferred or nice-to-have features for the role at hand. Below you’ll find some ideas on how to communicate the target background, education, qualifications, and expertise needed to succeed in the position, as well as any soft skills that may align well with the opportunity.
Part 2: Outlining Marketing Research Job Qualifications
Whether you’re looking for a junior researcher to join your team, an experienced leader, or someone in between, consider providing a minimum or a range of required years’ experience in the field to focus on the appropriate level. For example:
- 2-5 years of hands-on experience conducting custom market research projects
- At least 15+ years of marketing research/insights leadership experience
Regardless of the job level or client- vs. supplier-side, most marketing research positions require a Bachelor’s degree at a minimum, with a graduate degree sometimes preferred for higher level roles or certain client-side opportunities. Some job descriptions ask for a specific area of study (e.g. Marketing, Business) or simply state a “related discipline” is preferred. For example:
- Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s degree in social sciences or related discipline a plus.
(Note, it is rare that a research/insights role would require a Ph.D.)
Industry or category experience
While strong research skills usually transcend categories, some positions with a particular focus may require previous industry experience. For example:
- Minimum of 5 years of experience in the commercial pharmaceutical industry; oncology and biologics experience preferred
- Ideal candidates will have 2+ years of experience within restaurant, QSR, hospitality, or retail organizations
Beyond entry-level positions, most marketing research roles will need some level of exposure with research projects and methodologies. For example:
- Solid understanding of research methodologies (custom qualitative and quantitative, syndicated, secondary, etc.) and knowledge of associated vendors
- Significant experience designing and leading qualitative and/or quantitative research start-to-finish including: proposal, research design, questionnaire/discussion guide development, analysis, reporting, and presenting to clients
- Proven expertise in specific custom research techniques and methodologies (see part 1 for examples)
- Experience designing/leading workshops and brainstorming sessions with cross-functional teams to socialize insights and foster new ideas
- Ability to synthesize and translate research into strong actionable insights and recommendations that address business challenges
- Analytical thinker, able to work cross-functionally to proactively pursue and provide best-in-class recommendations
The ability to communicate effectively, succinctly, and with influence is imperative for many research and insights roles. For example:
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to distill disparate data into compelling insights and deliver story-driven reporting and call-to-action for the business
- Comfortable communicating with peers as well as key stakeholders and executive leaders
- Excellent presentation skills, especially the ability to explain difficult concepts and insights in accessible business terms to a variety of audiences
Project management skills
Most research and insights have an element of project management, whether they’ll manage the entire project lifecycle internally or partner with external vendors. For example:
- Excellent end-to-end project leadership skills including the ability to seamlessly manage a portfolio of projects at various stages
- Experience executing a strategic research plan and managing the project budget
- Experience managing large global research budgets and/or P&L
- [Client-side] Able to effectively prioritize multiple projects servicing multiple business groups using your grasp on the organization’s overall goals
- [Client-side] Experience managing with external research vendors, suppliers, and consultants
Client management skills
Client-side roles often work closely with a variety of internal business units, while supplier-side researchers partner to help clients in other organizations with their research needs. Both need client management skills with slightly different nuances. For example:
- [Client-side] Proactively identify strategic and tactical needs of internal business partners or key stakeholders, establishing both long-range and short-term business impact
- [Client-side OR supplier-side] Understand client objectives, design research to meet their needs on time and within budget/scope, and deliver best-in-class insights and recommendations
- [Supplier-side] Proactively anticipate clients’ needs, ability to maintain and grow strong, ongoing relationships with external client partners
Interpersonal skills, including an ability to influence
The research and insights industry is particularly collaborative, so being able to work with others both within and outside the organization is key for many positions. For example:
- Strong collaborator who can work effectively with others (insights colleagues, cross-functional partners, agency/consulting partners)
- Prior management experience required; ability to lead a team of 3-4 junior researchers
- [Client-side] Works effectively in a cross functional team; ability to partner closely with internal clients across various business units (i.e. marketing, R&D, product teams, etc.) using insights to influence and drive strategic decisions
- [Client-side] Strong management of key vendor partner relationships and work streams, ensure work is done on-time and within project budget/scope
- [Client-side] Ability to build buy-in across the business for the insights function, using data and insights to drive influence
- [Supplier-side] Excellent research strategist, with strong client service and influencing skills
Soft skills and other key characteristics
Many research and insights roles benefit from other traits, qualities, or ‘soft skills’ that can help ensure a strong fit within a team or specific position. For example:
- Culturally savvy; demonstrates an understanding of differences among countries and cultures
- Entrepreneurial mindset; thrives in an unstructured environment, likes to explore, develop, and execute new ways of approaching research
- Ability to work both autonomously as well as within a team
- Has interest in industry vertical, understands key players, current issues, and upcoming innovations/influences
- Impeccable attention to detail and accuracy
- Innate curiosity; enjoys keeping a pulse on current events, emerging trends, and cultural or global insights impacting businesses today
- Thinks outside the box regarding insights and research approaches and methods
- Up-to-date with new emerging and constantly evolving research methodologies
- Ability to travel, both domestically and internationally, up to X%
As you’re tackling a job description for a position in the marketing research and insights field, it’s important to keep in mind both the role itself and what it entails, as well as the specific skills and backgrounds that may be well aligned with the position. Make sure to check out both Part 1 as well for the full list of items to consider! This guide can serve as a resource or starting point, but for best results, always customize each job description to the specific role and adapt it to your organization’s goals for the particular position.
And remember, a job description should serve as a guideline and not a definitive checklist. Some of the best candidates out there likely won’t fulfill every single criteria and may still be a fantastic addition to your team. Best of luck with writing your job descriptions!
Check out our 2019 research & insights salary webinar below, where we shared long-term salary trends, hiring research, and career strategy advice!
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 Kit Nordmark on LinkedIn.