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This blog is contributed by Burtch Works’ marketing research team. 

Research & Insights teams serve as a vital resource to help businesses keep the consumer at the core of their business strategy. With the pandemic and overall market shifts of the past couple years, understanding the evolving consumer mindset is more important than ever as companies navigate shifting behaviors and priorities. Research teams, both in-house (client-side) and external partners (supplier-side), are in high demand and hiring strong talent is critical. We have been following these developing trends this year and have curated some tips to keep in mind when hiring for your research & insights team in today’s market. 

Attracting the Right Talent  

It’s an extremely competitive market and with so many companies seeking research and insights professionals, hiring is no easy feat. Given the nature of today’s climate, it is crucial for organizations to provide a streamlined and transparent interview process to attract the best talent. Start with a clear and concise job description to highlight the role and responsibilities, tools and techniques the position will use, and day-to-day work so prospective candidates can get a full understanding of the position. 

Strong candidates have an abundance of job options these days with many companies posting job openings, so interview activity can pick up quickly after someone decides to consider new opportunities. To speed up hiring without compromising quality, create a consistent candidate evaluation process and make sure it’s as efficient as possible. Consider tightening the process to only include the most pertinent interviewers and enable a timely feedback practice to make decisions quickly while assessing candidates across consistent standards.  

To remain competitive in this active fight for research and insights talent, efficacy is vital to keep pace with candidates’ other opportunities – it’s tough to miss out on a stellar individual because of timing alone. If you review a resume that piques your interest, move quickly to start the process. Try focusing less on a laundry list of hard requirements and instead prioritize a tiered list of “must have” vs. “nice to have” qualifications: 

  • Determine skill requirements needed on day one vs. what you can build or train 
  • Provide “benchmark” candidates to guide your recruiters’ searches 
  • Work with your hiring manager to think beyond keyword searches 
  • Choose an appropriate salary range based on required experience 
  • Keep any assessments during the process quick to not overwhelm active candidates 
  • Consider remote flexibility to widen your talent pool 

Encourage candidates to ask questions throughout the interview to create a natural dialogue and ensure they leave the conversation with answers to their questions as well. And don’t forget to sell the opportunity along the way – not only the role and the company, but the team, the growth potential, the culture as a whole. Does your company take an afternoon each quarter to volunteer for a local cause? Invest in DEI efforts? Value work-life balance? – these things matter as candidates think about making a move and can help differentiate your organization from competition.  

A candidate’s experience across the interview process is a major factor in whether you’ll receive an accepted offer or have to go back to the drawing board, so remember to think about the candidate perspective as you’re building out the interview plan.  

Target Compensation 

Be transparent about salary ranges early on to ensure alignment between the position’s salary targets and the candidate’s expectations. When offering a compensation package, it is important to realize other facets that may impact the candidate’s likelihood of accepting. We’ve seen strong offers this year as companies vie for top talent, and competitive packages may include not only a base salary, but potentially an annual bonus target, profit sharing, or a sign-on bonus as well. For reference, we publish a yearly market research salary study which contains industry-specific salary data examined by job level, demographic analysis, and market trends, insights, and other hiring research. 

With the vast number of open roles on the market, the likelihood of candidates coming to the table with multiple offers is more prevalent, leading to increased negotiation power on the candidate side. When you find a candidate you want to hire, be ready to present a strong offer for the best chance of landing them in this market. And know in advance if there’s any potential wiggle room in the event there’s a competing offer or the candidate counters so you can move quickly – whether it’s increasing the base, adding a sign-on, or leveraging something else such as PTO.  

Retaining Talent 

Due to the great resignation and the vast number of research and insights opportunities available to candidates, it has become a challenge for organizations to retain staff. Investing in talent is more than providing pay raises, training, and benefits, especially in today’s competitive market. It could come in the form of identifying non-traditional skillsets to fill organization gaps, seeking employee feedback on company decisions, creating mentorship programs, fostering a healthier work environment, office perks (free lunches, company sponsored happy hours, redesigned workspaces to include recreational areas like a game room), or having approachable and supportive leadership. Providing professional growth potential can aid employee retention, so demonstrate a clear path to career progression from the beginning and ensure it can come to fruition in practice. 

We’ve also kept a pulse on new ways companies may be working to support a strong culture and retain talent. Some have implemented perks such as summer hours or half-day Fridays year-round, and we’ve also heard of companies exploring a four-day work week option (with adjusted hours or prorated salaries). Although these ideas may not be sustainable for all organizations, these kinds of work-life balance initiatives can be enticing for candidates making career decisions. Some companies have moved towards unlimited PTO or other ways to build in flexibility such as giving a dedicated week to work remotely from anywhere each quarter. While this isn’t realistic for all businesses, it does mirror an important point: candidates value flexibility and appreciate companies that embrace that.  

Whether looking to hire or retain existing talent, it is imperative for organizations to fully grasp the competitive nature of today’s hiring market to not only optimize the interview process to bring the best teammates on board, but also provide a successful work environment where research and insights professionals thrive and want to stay. 

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. 

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