Tips on finding a market research job

You are looking for a market research job – either out of college, because of layoffs, or because it’s time to find a new professional home.

That journey often starts with networking but in a strategic way.

“Networking opportunities have helped me find jobs, including the one I’m in right now,” said Brian Monschein, vice president of research at Voxpopme. “I’ve picked up some tips from my network that I probably wouldn’t have come across in a standard search.”

In this article, I discuss:

The importance of knowing what you want

Before starting to network, take a step back and evaluate what you want in your next role, Brian said.

“Once you have that list, go ahead and rank them,” Brian added. “My most important factors were finding meaningful work where I feel like I can make a difference, being with a company with a clear vision and values I can stand behind, and having a good work-life balance.”

Consider putting together a business plan for your career and outline:

  • the specifics of what you want to do
  • potential titles of roles you are after
  • the type of company you want to work for
  • how you want to work – remote or go into the office
  • the culture you want to work in

Update resume and LinkedIn profile

“Your resume is your advertisement,” Brian said. “So when you do it right, it can generate some interest and awareness.”

Make sure you:

  • make it brief
  • create it in a way that is scannable by recruiters – use bullet points, for example.
  • use the right and exact keywords for your experience and the jobs you are looking for.
  • catch typos – have somebody proofread it.

The same goes for your LinkedIn profile. Make sure it highlights your experience in a succinct and scannable way. In addition, make sure you use relevant keywords to help recruiters find you for the roles you want. Make it visual when possible. Add certifications.

“All this is to show how well-rounded your experience is,” Brian said. “If you don’t have any of that, get out there, do some volunteer work or take a course.”

Develop your elevator speech

“This is the quick, 30-second overview of yourself,” Brian said. “You want this because sometimes you’ll only get limited time to talk to someone. Maybe you are running into them at a conference or having a quick coffee together.”

“You want to have that short speech prepared that gives them a good overview of who you are and what makes you unique from all the other candidates,” Brian said. “A simple pitch can be that deciding factor in getting that next call or meeting.”

A personal elevator pitch should include:

  • Who you are
  • What you can offer
  • Tie it to achievements you’ve had in your career. Discuss achievements in school or during an internship if you are just starting your professional career.
  • Tell them what you are looking for, but don’t get too specific on titles as they can differ by company.

"You want to give detail of things you've worked on and the action and result that came out of it."

When it comes to your achievements, create a handful of achievement stories that you can easily share at the correct times.

“Help whomever you are talking to visualize how you added value,” Brian said. “In a way, it’s about taking those bullets on your resume and bringing them to life in conversation.”

Brian said to use the CAR model.

C – Context – sets the stage and gives background.
A – Action – what you personally did.
R – Results – what came out of it?

“This is a framework you can follow to give your achievement story a beginning, middle, and end,” Brian said. “And it also allows you to remember it easily when we have the next conversation.”

An example from Brian’s career:

(Context) The company used an expensive brand tracker that lacked actionable insights because of delays in reporting. (Action) A vendor review and a new solution was needed quickly. (Results) The vendor chosen brought quicker reporting, immediate access to real-time data, a bigger sample size and better fit in the budget.

Read next: How to increase technology adoption of your MR tech stack

Networking strategically

Look at your network in circles of connectivity, Brian said. There are those people you know well and are connected closely with, then there are people with who you have a looser connect with, and so forth. Start checking in with them.

"You already have the relationships in place, and it's as simple as reaching out."

But remember that you aren’t asking for a job at these get-togethers.

“You are just calling them to let them know, ‘hey, I’m in the process of searching for a new role, and I wanted to talk you through my job search plan and my objectives,'” Brian said. “And you are also seeing if they have any insights about the market and if they know of anyone they could refer you to.”

And remember to return the favor when the time is right.

Keep track of who you talked to, what ideas and referrals they mentioned, and keep any other relevant notes.

Practical market research job experience in higher ed

At the end of the day, looking for a market research job, we need to find ways to differentiate from the competition. That can even start in college.

Market research changes from the technology available to democratizing research and changes in brand loyalty. The Center for Consumer Research & Analytics at Ohio University runs its program like a research agency. Students work with brands and get real-world experience while getting feedback from their professors.

“We are all about experiential learning,” said Jacob Hiler, director at the center, on an episode of “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.” “Students learn from their advisors but also other students.”

Each year, the center runs around 20 projects – each spanning from the beginning to the end of an academic semester.

“It’s all structured around live client work,” Jacob said. “We take a consultative research approach with our clients.”

Students learn to understand the client’s:

  • problems
  • needs
  • questions

Once the research objective is understood, students brainstorm on what might be the best ways to approach the project.

“Once we get approval from the client, we develop the actual tools, the discussion guide, surveys, and whatever other methodologies we need,” Jacob said.

Read next: Best practices for survey design in research

Jacob said students talk with their clients and gather and analyze the data. Finally, the results are presented to the client.

“The way I like to sell it to students is that it’s like an internship, except better,” Jacob said. “Interns typically don’t get to present to high-level execs.”

"We give our students that opportunity to make a real difference - an impact."

“What better way to do consumer research than to do it yourself,” Jacob added.

The students have done a variety of research, including:

  • Eye tracking
  • Video surveys
  • Traditional qual
  • Combination of qual and quant
  • And more…

Working with real-life market research projects

“Their work has impact,” Jacob said, adding that the setup of a practical and real project helps students get ready for their first market research job differently.

It’s not hypothetical. Nor is its theory. It’s a real-life project that can be very similar to what they might be conducting in their first market research job.

It also gives students exposure to working with different clients, which can help them in their first job.

“Some clients are very amendable, and everything is great, and some clients are very picky,” Jacob said.

Staying up to date

Whether new to the job market or pursuing a second, third, or later role, it’s essential to stay up to date with changes in the industry.

Consider listening to the top market research podcasts, reading industry publications, and networking with industry leaders. The Ohio University Center has established an advisory committee for the center to help. Also, working on actual projects is a great way to keep connected to what strategies currently work. Finally, consider finding projects while looking for your next job.

“We thought it was important to develop an advisory board of people who can help us stay on top of things in the industry,” Jacob said.

Finding a job involves having the skills, marketing yourself, and connecting with the right people. But, with the right mindset, it’s possible.

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