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The Career Clinic - UK


Freelance / part-time work

 
Email your questions about getting into, and getting on in, Market Research to careers@mrweb.com along with your name and we'll pass them to the appropriate expert. Questions and answers will be shown on the site but will be anonymised as carefully as if we were writing up a qual b2b interview. Please note that questions pertaining to careers in unrelated fields - engineering, sales etc.. - will not be answered. All rights reserved.



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PREVIOUS QUESTIONS

Q55.   How I can enter the field of market research as an independent researcher?
Answer

Q25.   Given that there appears to be a lack of AD level applicants, are agencies getting any better at making it possible for women to combine work and family life, e.g. allowing for part time workers or a 9-5 working day?
Answer

Q16.   I am thinking about doing freelance or temporary contract work, at the level of market research manager or above. Can you offer any advice on the market for this kind of work?
Answer

Q17.   I'm a freelance primarily as a moderator. Nearly all the work I do is for this one agency, as I don't have any other contacts..... my age (47) may be against me. Is my idea of continuing as a freelance reasonable, or should I try and obtain employment?
Answer



Questions in full and answers



Q55.   I have been out of work since having my children 10 years ago. Other than that, I am 40 - last week actually. How I can enter the field of market research as an independent researcher?

A.   Deborah says: Market Research could certainly offer you the flexibility you are seeking in your work.

I would suggest that you aim to start as a field interviewer for one of the leading agencies. This would mean that you could be trained and then it would allow you to work out of home under the guidance of an area supervisor. The work involves street and house to house interviewing, also running hall tests with a team of other interviewers. You could also be trained to be a recruiter/hostess for group discussions - which involves finding people (c8-9 per group) according to a defined quota and inviting them to a group discussion - which could either be held in your home (if you have a suitable room - for the use of which you would be paid an additional sum) or you would arrange for the group to go to a special viewing facility.

There are a number of companies you could approach including NOP, Martin Hamblin, Research International, MORI. These are some of the largest full service market research agencies who run larglarge field forces and who are the most likely to offer proper training. The best way to obtain names and addresses of their Head Office Field Departments is to contact the Market Research Society (Tel: 0207 490 4911) for a list of all the companies with field forces. They will also be able to give you names of companies that specialise in fieldwork services - usually for companies that do not run their own field forces - they should also provide training. Most of the big companies are in the centre of London. However there is one - the National Centre for Social Research - which is based in Brentwood (Tel: 01277 200600). They provide training, insist on you having a telephone (some of the work may be home-based telephone work), and say a car is preferable.

The alternative form of interviewing is telephone interviewing for companies who run telephone centres and do the fieldwork for many of the market research agencies. Obviously these would require you to 'go to work' but they do tend to offer fairly flexible hours which you could tailor to the needs of the children (and yourself!). Again the MRS is the best source of lists of names and addresses. As I understand it, as an interviewer you work on a self employed basis so have to see to your own tax and NI - but you would need to check this out.

What I do know is that, once trained, a lot of interviewers actually work for a number of different companies in order to maintain a steady flow of work - you will understand that there may not be a consistent flow of work into one area all of the time from one company. Once you have gained some experience, there would be the chance to take more responsibility as a local supervisor, then regional and so on up the ladder.

There are also head office positions. Interviewers are paid by the hour/day, with no retainers; supervisors get a small retainer and area managers tend to be salaried. In head offices, the jobs are also salaried, starting at around 15,000 for a project coordinator up to 30-40 for top field managers. I honestly feel that this is the best route for you. It can be hard work, but fun. You get to meet lots of people and the work is varied. It is very difficult to get into the executive side of research - you really need a degree and there are hundreds of recent graduates chasing the trainee roles.

Q25.   I am looking to return to market research after a 2 year career break, to look after my child. Given that there appears to be a lack of AD level applicants, are agencies getting any better at making it possible for women to combine work and family life, e.g. allowing for part time workers or a 9-5 working day?

A.   Peter says: Research agencies both large and small are becoming far more flexible with regards to looking at the benefits of employing people on a part time basis. More companies are now employing people 3/4 days a week. So the answer is yes given the skills shortage and the cost of freelancers part time work is becoming more common.

Q16.   I am thinking about doing freelance or temporary contract work, at the level of market research manager or above.I have fairly broad experience(qual and quant), including agency and clientside. Can you offer any advice on the market for this kind of work? It sounds interesting but I don't want to starve.

A.   Sinead says: There are pros and cons to going freelance, the obvious pro is that you can have more free time and independence with the major con being lack of job/financial security. In general there are lots of opportunities for freelancers, Stop Gap specialise in recruiting for freelance and temporary positions and it would probably be a good place to start as they cover a wide range of positions and work both for agencies and clients. You need to build up a regular client base so that you dont starve but it may take time to do this so be prepared for lean months. The other thing to consider is that working freelance can be lonely - contract work is more sociable. Also if you are going to work from home make sure that you have some "office" space as this will help you to be disciplined. Speak to other people who work freelance as they can let you know the benefits and the pitfalls.

Q17.   Twelve years ago I started working for a research consultancy. My previous background had been as a writer and editor and I started by working on desk reports. Then I graduated to doing qualitative research and to a more limited extent, some quant. Two years ago I left the agency and now freelance primarily as a moderator. However, nearly all the work I do is for this one agency, as I don't have any other contacts. My experience is good - nearly all in media, and - in the last two years - in new media, but my age (47) may be against me. Is my idea of continuing as a freelance reasonable, or should I try and obtain employment (it would have to be part-time). I want to develop a bigger network of employers as relying on this one agency is not giving me enough work.

A.   Sinead says: It sounds as though you would like to stay freelance so you really just need to find some more clients. Stop Gap recruitment may be able to help you as they do freelance work for agencies and clients and they may be able to introduce you to some potential clients otherwise you should get in touch with the heads of departments of other agencies that you would like to work for and develop some new contacts.

There is still a great shortage of qualitative researchers so I would assume that if you could find one or two other clients this should solve your problems.

   

Key to previous and current Agony Aunts / Uncles


Sinead Hasson, Hasson Associates
Kate Langford, Hasson Associates
Peter McGrath, PSD
Nick Gendler, then of KD Consulting
Debby Robson, then of SLS Services
Liz Norman, ENI
Caroline Steane / Clive Warren, CSA Recruitment
Jenny Bastin, then of Buckingham Personnel
Helen Pegnall, then of ENI






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