This blog is contributed by Burtch Works’ research & insights recruiting team.
With hiring demand for research & insights professionals still going strong, there is a lot of movement in the market with many professionals exploring new opportunities. We consistently get questions around salaries and negotiation during the job search process, and the conversation has changed quite a bit in the last few years, with salary laws in place in much of the country.
To help navigate this topic, we sat down with our Research & Insights recruiting team to grab some tips when it comes to managing salary expectations as well as negotiation.
Whether you’re considering a career change this year or just want some intel for the future, we wanted to provide some ideas when it comes to approaching salary discussions and negotiation tactics with a lens specific to the marketing research & insights hiring market.
1. Think through your desired salary range in advance
At a high level, you’ll want to have an honest conversation with yourself to determine your salary needs prior to applying and interviewing so that you have a reasonable ballpark for your search. Consider the minimum you would need to consider making a move or accepting a new role, as well as where you’d feel most comfortable. It’s okay to have an ambitious end of the range too, but you’ll want it to be within reason so that you don’t unknowingly miss out on a great opportunity due to misaligned targets.
2. Understand your market value
Before you even get to the point of negotiation, have an idea of your current market value as you’re exploring opportunities. If you need a starting point, check out our marketing research & insights industry salary study that breaks down compensation info by job level, region, education, and more (you can download it here). It’s also important to know that companies often have internal salary bands, or compensation ranges that align with specific positions, levels, and tenure. In organizations with defined bands, there may be a strict compensation range that cannot be exceeded, regardless of how you negotiate or how much a hiring manager or recruiter may advocate for you.
3. Try to gauge the salary range of roles in consideration
Some companies and job postings list the salary range for specific opportunities, which can be helpful! If it’s not disclosed up front, you may be able to ask the internal recruiter or talent acquisition team, or if you’re working with a third-party recruiter like Burtch Works you can have that conversation in advance of applying.
4. Provide a target salary range, if possible
Many online applications ask for your salary target as part of the process. If possible, try to provide a range to include more coverage. For example, instead of asking for $130k base salary, offering up a range of $120k-$140 can paint a broader picture and show some flexibility. You want to be careful to not shoot excessively high if it’s an opportunity you’re very excited about, since this could signal to the employer that it’s probably not the right level for you and ultimately price you out of a specific opportunity.
5. Emphasize applicable (and diverse) experience, and the value you bring to the team
In the research & insights field, hiring managers often seek out talent that can bring unique experience and perspective to their team. Make sure you demonstrate how your background aligns with the opportunity, as well as anything else you may bring to the table whether it’s the breadth of data or tools you’ve used, methodologies or approaches you’ve mastered, or different industries you’ve worked within can show your versatility. If it’s a leadership position, make sure you highlight your experience managing a team or building out a function from scratch.
You’ll want to articulate the value you’ll bring to the team, as well as the impact you’ve had in the past to show a clear connection between their needs and your anticipated performance in the role.
6. Lateral moves in research & insights are more common than you think
Unlike some other fields, it is not unusual within marketing research to make a lateral move (or even take a small step back) to open up long-term career opportunities. For example, if your entire career is in the retail space, you might want to consider a lateral move to break into a new industry such as tech or CPG to diversify your category expertise. Or if you’re on the supplier-side now, a strategic and deliberate pivot sideways may be worth it to pick up client-side experience and start building out your skillset as an in-house researcher. Being open to lateral moves can pay off significantly in the long run.
7. Assess the full opportunity, not just compensation
Compensation is obviously important, but try to take a step back to evaluate the opportunity holistically. Beyond your paycheck, you’ll want to consider the role itself, scope of responsibility, opportunity to gain exposure with new methodologies or industries, team structure, company culture, work/life balance, potential for career growth, and more to make sure it’s a progressive next step. (Check out this post for a more in-depth discussion on what to consider when evaluating research & insights opportunities, and how to ask the right questions during research interviews to get more information about the role.)
8. Consider elements beyond base salary
If you’re excited about an opportunity and are hoping for a higher salary but the company can’t budge because of internal salary bands, it can also help to explore negotiation areas beyond base compensation. For example, maybe the base is set in stone but there is wiggle room elsewhere such as additional PTO or a sign-on bonus.
9. Negotiate tactfully
Anytime you’re negotiating, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that these could be your future colleagues! Whether you’re hoping for more money or other perks, it’s important not to draw a line in the sand if you’re serious about a specific opportunity. Some give and take during the negotiation process is common, but if you stand firm behind a particular demand, know that there’s always a chance the company could decide to walk away. One thing to consider before you start negotiating, is that if your potential new employer updates the offer to meet your requests, you should be prepared to accept. It can take time and energy and sometimes multiple approvals, so if the company meets your needs and the offer is turned down anyway, it can leave a bad taste in their mouth.
10. Carefully navigate multiple offers
If you’ve been busy interviewing and have a number of irons in the fire, you may find yourself in a position where you have multiple offers in hand. This can be an exciting, yet tricky scenario. We suggest honest and clear communication throughout the process: if you have an offer on the table and another company is heading that direction as well, be upfront about the total compensation package and timing around the offer decision in case they’re able to compete. At this point, the company you end up turning down will likely be disappointed to be losing you to another offer, so explaining your thought process can help preserve relationships while also giving them the opportunity to put their best foot forward.
11. Don’t accept an offer unless you’re sure
Be confident in your decision before you accept an offer. Make sure you’ve fully considered the role and the entire package 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 (see #5). Like most things in life, you’ll likely make better progress by asking rather than demanding!
Even if you’re not currently interviewing – it never hurts to be prepared when the time comes! You can also check out our posts for researchers on crafting a resume and what to keep in mind when sending thank-you emails after interviews. Hope this is a helpful list to consider as you navigate a job search, manager offers, and negotiate any future opportunities.
NOTE: If you’re on a talent acquisition/HR team or a hiring manager curious about how salaries may stack up in your organization compared to the broader marketplace, we’re happy to connect! Burtch Works can serve as a resource whether you’re reevaluating salaries, looking to remain competitive, or just need a sounding board when it comes to compensation packages. We’re here to help!