Industry Insights

Background image of user typing on a calculator with floating interface elements surrounding them

Survey Results: 2021 Marketing Research & Consumer Insights Hiring in Q3 and Q4

August 16, 2021

This post is contributed by the Burtch Works research & insights recruiting team. Our hiring survey results from February 2021 showed that 64% of research teams were planning to hire during Q1 or Q2 of 2021. So how are plans shaping up for the second half of the year?

Hiring on Research & Insights Teams: Q3 and Q4

We typically send a hiring survey every year and the results for Q3 and Q4 show hiring activity is continuing in today’s hot market.

According to our respondents, which represented nearly 60 different companies across the US, we found that 64% of marketing research & consumer insights teams are planning to hire during Q3/Q4 of 2021. While 36% of teams reported that they’re holding steady, it’s notable that for the second half of the year, none of the respondents reported that their teams are cutting back (compared to 6% planning cutbacks in the first half of the year).

There are a variety of factors spurring on the research & insights hiring market right now:
  1. Strong hiring need for research talent as the economic restart kicks into high gear – understanding the consumer mindset and keeping the consumer at the forefront of decision-making is especially key today, increasing demand for both client- and supplier-side professionals
  2. Some flexibility for remote working has increased access to more talent for companies, and opened up more opportunities for professionals
  3. More researchers evaluating potential career moves in 2021 after putting job searches on hold in 2020 and reactivating this year, which, from what we’ve been seeing in the market, has increased attrition increase attrition in 2021 significantly

Overall, we’re seeing a flurry of activity among both research & insights teams and professionals in the field, increasing competition across the hiring market.

Types of Research & Insights Hiring: Q3 and Q4 2021

We also asked about permanent vs. contract hiring to gauge hiring trends and how this compares to earlier this year.

We found that in Q3/Q4, 43% of teams are only looking for permanent staff (the same percentage as our Q1/Q2 sample), 2% are only looking for contract staff (down from 8% earlier this year), and 19% of teams are hiring for both permanent and contract positions (compared to 13%). This means there is an increase in teams looking for permanent staff in addition to contractors, and less teams only looking for contractors.

Motivation for Research & Insights Hiring: Q3 and Q4 2021

We also like to ask teams about their motivation for hiring, whether the goal is to increase the size of the team through adding to headcount, whether they’re focused on backfilling roles left vacant due to attrition, or augmenting staff to deliver on temporary or project-based work demands (teams may choose all that apply).

For Q3/Q4 of 2021, we found that 55% of teams are actively trying to increase the size of their teams, which is a noticeable jump from the 47% who were adding to headcount in Q1/Q2. There is also a slight decrease in teams focused on backfilling vacant roles, down from 36% earlier this year to 32%.We found that 23% are looking for temporary staff augmentation or project-based hiring, a narrow increase from our survey earlier this year. While slightly more teams are holding steady, none reported that they plan to cut back their team, and the main takeaway here is that more teams want to expand their permanent staff.

Tips for Research Teams Looking to Hire

Looking to add to your team? There’s a lot of activity in the market right now, both supplier-side and client-side. Many of the research & insights teams we’ve talked to seem to be experiencing a mix of attrition and growth through new headcount (often happening concurrently). At the same time, most candidates interviewing these days have multiple opportunities in the works, so it’s a very competitive and challenging landscape for hiring! Here are a few tips from our team:

  1. Streamline your hiring process and remove unnecessary steps to speed up the interview timeline
  2. Make sure the process is buttoned up and that you’re courting the candidates as well, given the plethora of opportunities available for research professionals today
  3. Make decisions quickly so that you’re getting talent through the process and extending offers in a timely manner
  4. Modify homework or assessments so that the length and time-commitment is not a deterrent. Extend strong offers, and consider sign-on bonuses as an added incentive
Looking for additional hiring resources? Here are a few links that may be helpful:
  1. Writing Better Marketing Research Job Descriptions Part 1: Describing Job Tasks
  2. Writing Better Marketing Research Job Descriptions Part 2: Outlining Qualifications
  3. 4 Tips for Hiring Marketing Researchers

Tips for Research Professionals on the Job Hunt

Considering a career move this year? An active job market can be exciting, but it can also be a tad daunting. It’s important to be thoughtful about a job search and actively manage your own process so that you not only land the role you’re after, but also make sure it’s a strategic move that will enrich your career long term!

  1. Don’t start a search just for the sake of looking around – make sure you’re serious about considering a move
  2. Track your applications so that you know where and when you’ve applied (this is especially crucial if you are working with recruiters like us)
  3. Manage interview activity – keep a sharp eye on your calendar, set aside time for assessments (homework, presentation prep, etc.) as needed, make sure you make time to interview if you’re in a search
  4. Be transparent with recruiters or HR about your other interview activity – if hiring teams know you’re actively interviewing they may be able to keep pace
  5. Be prepared for multiple steps throughout the process – virtual interviewing has led to an increase in the number of interviews and/or assessments in the process for many researchers
  6. If you’re excited about an opportunity and the company is excited about you, be ready to move quickly!
Looking for additional career resources? Here are a few links that may be helpful:
  1. Hot Skills, and How Research & Insights Professionals Can Stay Competitive
  2. Questions to ask When Interviewing for Marketing Research Positions
  3. How to Evaluate Marketing Research and Consumer Insights Opportunities
  4. The Comprehensive Resume Guide for Marketing Research & Consumer Insights Pros