Quick Find:
MrWeb Home News (DRNO) Daily Research News, Research Diary, MRWho, HRchive


 



Looking for a job in MR?
  Vacancy search
  Today's vacancies
  Recruiter's Index
  Salary stats
  Love n Hate
  Submit your CV
  Vacancy emails request
     
   
  Graduate vacancy search
  Interviewer & Coder vacancies



The Career Clinic - UK


How do I get a start in a market research career...
- transferring from another career / with experience?

 
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.



List of previous Agony Aunts / Uncles


>>
BACK to clinic home page


PREVIOUS QUESTIONS

Q75.   I am a 27 years old British graduate, and have 1.5 years experience in a pharmaceutical market research consultancy in Sweden. The company combined both quantitative and qualitative research. I have 3 years prior experience within the financial services/insurance industry in the UK, although not specifically in market research. I have been travelling for the past year, and therefore have been out of work, and am currently aiming to return to the UK (London) with a view to gaining a position within a UK research agency or pharmaceutical company. What kind of position could I hope to achieve with this kind of experience? There do not seem to be many market intelligence positions within pharmaceutical companies - could you advise me how to approach them?
Answer

Q70.   I am looking to return to the job market after taking time out for a family. I am now 39. I have a degree in English and French and a CIM diploma. My experience is in fmcg working in various marketing roles, my last one being as Marketing Manager for a market leader. I was involved in all aspects of the mix, however my market research experience is solely in sourcing out research projects and acting on the results.

I have been living in the US for the last 7 years and re-trained as a primary school teacher. I have decided having taught for two years that I really want to return to marketing and am interested in qualitative research.

What do you think my chances are of entering into this field with little direct experience. Would you suggest I study for a specific qualification?

Answer

Q69.   I 'm 27 years old and have been working in Marketing within the academic/educational publishing industry for the past 5 years and am now at Senior Marketing Exec level. I'm looking for a slight change of direction and am really interested in moving into market research. I have an English degree, and also a CIM qualification. The postions I've held so far in my career have involved things such as direct marketing, campaign planning, promotional activities, report writing, presenting to prospective customers and some small research projects undertaken in-house.

I'd like to know, given my experience, what would be the chances of moving into market research? What sort of positions/levels should I be aiming for? Is there anything I could do (e.g. study for an MRS qualification) that would improve my chances? Are some areas easier to move into than others e.g. quant v. qual, agency v. clientside? Also, my current salary is 23k and I'd be interested to know whether or not I'd be likely to need to take a salary

Answer

Q68.   I am in my early 30s with experience in electronic publishing (PM), education (Head of Language) and commercial financial/technical and media translation as well as Masters' degrees (including economics, sociology, psychology, marketing/advertising research), fluent language skills, PM & editorial experience and strong interpersonal skills.

I am seeking to break into MR at any level, as I really enjoy researching, designing questionnaires and analysing responses, looking at promotional and brand advertising. Will I be able to get a staff position with my experience/qualifications - is a grad position advisable (as I am older) or is it best to go in via the field work/temping route? Obviously relocation to the SE is a must too, as is being prepared to drop salary ....?

How can I best slant my application and skills to 'get in'? Analytical , research, interpersonal, communication, project management, (customer) liaison, IT, organisational/admin., linguistic/editorial, project design/initiation

Answer

Q64.   I am currently working in a Marketing / Customer Service role for an online provider of aggregated information which includes a large amount of market research info. I have a 2:1 BSc in Psychology and have worked as a researcher; a recruitment consultant and in sales and marketing since graduation. I am currently studying the Advanced CIM certificate and am very keen to move into a Market Research role.
I am a little uncertain how my experience can apply to market research but looking at your site, you seem quite positive about people who have similar experience to me. What advice would you give me in terms of pitching my experience to a market research role?
Answer

Q48.   I am interested in a career in Market Research, but am not sure what the best course of action is to get into this.
My background: I am an experienced project manager having worked for the last 8 years for a large multinational in the IT function. I have a degree in Maths and Statistics, although I have not used this directly during my working life.

Answer

Q47.   I am a creative person trained originally in art and education, how would I get opportunities to move into qualitative market research using my communication skills and adaptability, and can you suggest any companies I might approach - I am based in the south west. Thank you.
Answer

Q41.   I am 43 years old, married with two children aged 16 and 12 and have been in banking for 25 years. I desperately want and need to get out whilst I still have my sanity. I have no idea what I want to do or for that matter what I could do. I really do not know where to start. Although I am committed to breaking free, the thought also terrifies me. Family responsibilities and a mortgage are major concerns.
Answer

Q39.   I am 43 years old and was made redundant last year by British Steel (now Corus) after working as an analyst in their corporate planning department for 12 years. I believe that my skills and experience gained in this job would be transferable to market research. These include researching and analysing information about British Steel's competitors, writing reports and briefing notes for management in order to assist strategic decision making, and maintaining databases of information about the company's competitors.
Answer

Q37.   I hope you can help. I am 25 yrs old and am currently working in the fashion industry, which I have been doing for just over 2 yrs. My role involves admin, client facing, report writing, spreadsheets and sales support. I currently earn 18K. I now feel that the fashion industry is not a career that enables me to maximise my full potential.
Answer

Q36.   I am looking to get into Market Research as I find it very interesting. I am trying to get in as a Data Analyst type position as I did Social Sciences and that has a high content of statistics and research.
Answer

Q35.   I have been employed in the travel industry, mostly business travel, for 18
years and wonder if I could use this experience to get into market research
and also what M.R. companies are in the Manchester area. I would
appreciate a reply as analyzing figures and trends has always been of
interest to me.

Answer

Q34.   Hi, I am looking for some career advice. I have a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Health Psychology and for the past 2 and a half years I have been working in research - for 1.5 years in hospital based health research and for one year in a commercial setting doing more consumer based research.
Answer

Q30.   I have been working in direct sales positions for about 7 years (CV attached), and now wish to give a different direction to my career and develop new skills. I am currently trying to enter the market research industry in order to work on the analysis aspect of business information, which one uses as facts rather than strategic tools in a regular sales position.
Answer

Q29.   I am thinking of making a career change from teaching into MR. I have a psycholgy degree and experience as an interviewer. I am 31 years old and have not worked for 3 years as I have been raising my daughter. What would you advise as a sensible first step towards breaking into Market Research? Would you recommend further qualifications?
Answer

Q13.   I have come to the conclusion that if I stay in market research, then I want to specialise in Qual. I have a smattering of experience ... but having been left to my own devices, I know what I am doing. However, I need to go somewhere that would both nurture my skills and develop them. I have confidence in my own ability, but have so far been disregarded because of inexperience.|P>Will I be looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack in trying to find such a role? Should I just Quit and go home?
Answer

Q6.   What's the importance of being able to demonstrate commitment to / interest in MR in holiday jobs, additional Qualifications, MRS membership or other affiliations, when going for a first job?
Answer

Q4.   Do I have to make my mind up what sort of research I want to do before I join a company / go for interviews - ie Qual or Quant, consumer, social, b2b, new media vs other sectors, etc...? How easy is it to switch once I'm working?
Answer

Q2.   If I want a career on the exec side - an RE, SRE, AD, Director (not field or DP) eventually, can I get a first step by being a) an interviewer, b) a field supervisor or coder, for example?
Answer

Q1.   What are the best Qualifications for someone looking to break into MR after graduating?
Answer



Questions in full and answers



Q75.   I am a 27 years old British graduate, and have 1.5 years experience in a pharmaceutical market research consultancy in Sweden. The company combined both quantitative and qualitative research. I have 3 years prior experience within the financial services/insurance industry in the UK, although not specifically in market research. I have been travelling for the past year, and therefore have been out of work, and am currently aiming to return to the UK (London) with a view to gaining a position within a UK research agency or pharmaceutical company.

What kind of position could I hope to achieve with this kind of experience? There do not seem to be many market intelligence positions within pharmaceutical companies - could you advise me how to approach them?

A.   Liz says: With only 1.5 years experience in market research you should be applying for roles as a Research Executive. It is unusual for companies (including pharmaceutical manufacturers) to recruit, research buyers/market intelligence personnel with your level of experience. The good news is there are a number of research agencies recruiting pharmaceutical market researchers at the moment, so you shouldn't find it difficult to find a role with one of them. You can always move to the client side once you have three or four years agency experience.

Another option would be to find a job as an RE with an agency that does financial research. However there won't be as many jobs in this area, and the roles that do exist are likely to be less well paid.

As for finding a job, I suggest you talk to a recruitment agency specialising in this area. You can visit www.mrweb.com/f5/ a list of recruitment consultants currently advertising on MrWeb.

Q70.   I am looking to return to the job market after taking time out for a family. I am now 39. I have a degree in English and French and a CIM diploma. My experience is in fmcg working in various marketing roles, my last one being as Marketing Manager for a market leader. I was involved in all aspects of the mix, however my market research experience is solely in sourcing out research projects and acting on the results.

I have been living in the US for the last 7 years and re-trained as a primary school teacher. I have decided having taught for two years that I really want to return to marketing and am interested in qualitative research.

What do you think my chances are of entering into this field with little direct experience. Would you suggest I study for a specific qualification?

A.   Liz says: Your experience as a mother and a teacher makes you well qualified to be a children's qualitative researcher. Your experience in marketing will also help as a lot of questions answered by qualitative research need a broader understanding of the marketing issues. All you need now is moderating experience and you won't get that by doing any more qualifications!

I suggest you contact all the research agencies you can commute to with some expertise in children's research and offer your services. You will effectively be a trainee so make it clear you are happy to consider a trainees salary. There probably won't be that many potential employers. If you don't succeed initially bare in mind that most of these companies are small so even though they might not be recruiting now they might be in six months time, ask them if they would consider you when they are recruiting? If you aren't getting anywhere try qualitative agencies who don't have an expertise in children's research, but bare in mind you have less to immediately offer these organisations so you are going to have to work harder to show you have something to offer.

Good luck.

Q69.   I'm 27 years old and have been working in Marketing within the academic/educational publishing industry for the past 5 years and am now at Senior Marketing Exec level. I'm looking for a slight change of direction and am really interested in moving into market research. I have an English degree, and also a CIM qualification. The postions I've held so far in my career have involved things such as direct marketing, campaign planning, promotional activities, report writing, presenting to prospective customers and some small research projects undertaken in-house.

I'd like to know, given my experience, what would be the chances of moving into market research? What sort of positions/levels should I be aiming for? Is there anything I could do (e.g. study for an MRS qualification) that would improve my chances? Are some areas easier to move into than others e.g. quant v. qual, agency v. clientside? Also, my current salary is 23k and I'd be interested to know whether or not I'd be likely to need to take a salary.

A.   Liz says: To move into market research now won't be easy. Research agencies rather than the client side is where most juniors find employment so I would concentrate here. However despite your experience you will be competing for jobs with graduate trainees for positions in these companies.

Clearly you do have something to offer over graduates. Your marketing, report writing, planning and analysis experience are all useful along with the limited market research experience you have had. Make sure you make the detail of this clear when you applying for roles to maximise your chances. You could do an MRS diploma but it would take quite a while to complete and you really need to make that move now, rather than leave it until you are any older.

As for qualitative or quantitative; it is important to go into the area of research that you enjoy, for that is where you will succed, rather than think about which has the most vacancies.

Q68.   I am in my early 30s with experience in electronic publishing (PM), education (Head of Language) and commercial financial/technical and media translation as well as Masters' degrees (including economics, sociology, psychology, marketing/advertising research), fluent language skills, PM & editorial experience and strong interpersonal skills.

I am seeking to break into MR at any level, as I really enjoy researching, designing questionnaires and analysing responses, looking at promotional and brand advertising. Will I be able to get a staff position with my experience/qualifications - is a grad position advisable (as I am older) or is it best to go in via the field work/temping route? Obviously relocation to the SE is a must too, as is being prepared to drop salary ....?

How can I best slant my application and skills to 'get in'? Analytical , research, interpersonal, communication, project management, (customer) liaison, IT, organisational/admin., linguistic/editorial, project design/initiation (self-starter), numeracy skills - any others? How long is it likely to take - will I have to wait until grad recruitment?

A.   Liz says: The best place to be trained in market research is with one of the many research agencies. However before you decide which ones to apply to you need to have a clearer idea what it is you are going to specialise in. Once you have decided that it will be easier for you to work out how to slant the experience you have had so far.

The salary you can get will depend on what it is you have to offer the particular area of research you have decided to target. It will also depend on location, you would earn more if you came down to London, but local agencies find it difficult to hire junior staff and are also more likely to allow you to work with both qualitative and quantitative data. (Although to get strong training in one or the other, would not be a mistake.)

Agencies will think you have slightly more to offer than raw graduate trainees, your international experience is certainly something you can build on if you target agencies with a strong international capability. (Particularly qualitative agencies where your language skills will be useful). You will still be a trainee, but you could hope to earn slightly more than the average graduate and progress slightly more quickly. A lot of agencies will take on trainees at almost any time of year depending on when it is they need staff. It means you won't be joining the standard graduate trainee schemes run by the larger agencies but this probably wouldn't be the right route for you in any case.

Q64.   I am currently working in a Marketing / Customer Service role for an online provider of aggregated information which includes a large amount of market research info. I have a 2:1 BSc in Psychology and have worked as a researcher; a recruitment consultant and in sales and marketing since graduation. I am currently studying the Advanced CIM certificate and am very keen to move into a Market Research role.
I am a little uncertain how my experience can apply to market research but looking at your site, you seem quite positive about people who have similar experience to me. What advice would you give me in terms of pitching my experience to a market research role?

A.   Liz says: There are two key parts of your experience to date that will be of interest to prospective market research employers. Firstly your psychology degree. Exactly how your degree might be of relevance depends on the modules you took, and how these relate to the aspects of market research that most interest you most (do you have any leanings towards qualitative or quantitative research for example)? You may have even done some market research assignments as part of that degree?

The second area of experience you need to convey to potential employers is the understanding of market research you have managed to gain in your current employment. Also what markets are you selling that data into, is there useful market knowledge that would be relevant to a future employer?

I am guessing that your customer service role involves understanding the data, appreciating the clients information needs and how this data might meet their needs. If this is the case and you prefer working with quantitative data rather than qualitative, then it sounds as if you could be quite suited to a role as a client service executive with one of the research houses, producing panel or continuous data services.

If you go to see any of the specialist recruitment consultants in this market they ought to be able to talk you through some of these issues, alternatively you might want to consider being a market research recruitment consultant!

Q48.   I am interested in a career in Market Research, but am not sure what the best course of action is to get into this.
My background: I am an experienced project manager having worked for the last 8 years for a large multinational in the IT function. I have a degree in Maths and Statistics, although I have not used this directly during my working life.

I have some specific questions:
  1. How is it best to start in Market Research given that I have no research experience
  2. should I approach companies with a view to starting on a graduate trainee programme ?
  3. Are there specific roles where my previous experience (project management, interpersonal skills etc.) will be best taken into consideration?
  4. Are there any companies who offer work experience in this field?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.

A.   Kate says: The best way to get into Market Research is to approach agencies directly with a view to joing a graduate training scheme. Your statistical background will be a big help but you must be prepared to drop back on salary. Most graduates in research start on about 15,000 - 17,000. Your previous project management skills will be very useful and should help you to progress quickly. There are some research agencies that take on Project Managers for research projects although you would still need the basic research knowledge. As regards work experience this would depend on each individual company's need so it is best approaching them directly for this. I wish you the best of luck.

Q47.   I am a creative person trained originally in art and education, how would I get opportunities to move into qualitative market research using my communication skills and adaptability, and can you suggest any companies I might approach - I am based in the south west. Thank you.

A.   Kate says: Your creative background would certainly stand you in good stead for moving into qualitative research and many research agencies are keen to take on staff from educational backgrounds because of their good people and communication skills. I would recommend that you apply to companies directly and keep in touch with the HR contacts so that when appropriate positons come up they will think of you. The best way to find companies in the south west region is to look on the Agency homepage section of mrweb.com where you can assess location as well as research specialisms of individual comapanies. Good Luck.

Q41.   I am 43 years old, married with two children aged 16 and 12 and have been in banking for 25 years. I desperately want and need to get out whilst I still have my sanity. I have no idea what I want to do or for that matter what I could do. I really do not know where to start. Although I am committed to breaking free, the thought also terrifies me. Family responsibilities and a mortgage are major concerns.

I know that I not only want to leave my current employers, but also banking in general. I also feel I need to get away from the City and maybe work locally or work from home. I have had enough stress and politics to last me a lifetime. Any assistance you could give would be much appreciated.

A.   Sinead Hasson says: I am not sure what advice I can give as I am not sure from your mail what your experience is within banking. However if you are looking for a complete career change I can recommend that you see a career consultant - they are really focused on helping people change careers. They help people to look objectively at what their skills are and will then suggest alternate careers. I know a number of people who have gone down this route and found it successful. I don't know if this is of any help but if you want a complete change it might be worth further investigation.

Q39.   I am 43 years old and was made redundant last year by British Steel (now Corus) after working as an analyst in their corporate planning department for 12 years. I believe that my skills and experience gained in this job would be transferable to market research. These include researching and analysing information about British Steel's competitors, writing reports and briefing notes for management in order to assist strategic decision making, and maintaining databases of information about the company's competitors. My academic background is a degree in Modern Languages (I speak and write fluent French and German), and a postgraduate diploma in international marketing, which included a market research project for an engineering company.

Can you offer any advice about how I could get a job in market research?

A.   Sinead says: I am sorry to hear you have been made redundant. Some of your skills will be transferable to research and there are probably some gaps in your knowledge as well.

If you haven't got exactly the right skills it is often possible to get in to see companies based on your market knowledge, you should try and find some companies who work in industrial markets, either in terms of research, analysis or just general consultancy. They may be able to use your knowledge and experience in a consultancy role.

You should also contact some recruitment companies and see what advice they have, they may have some appropriate positions or may be able to point you in the right direction.

I hope this is helpful,

Good Luck

Q37.   I hope you can help. I am 25 yrs old and am currently working in the fashion industry, which I have been doing for just over 2 yrs. My role involves admin, client facing, report writing, spreadsheets and sales support. I currently earn 18K. I now feel that the fashion industry is not a career that enables me to maximise my full potential.

Prior to this I worked for, what was Anderson Consulting for 16 months, developing new initiatives to eliminate persistent problems faced by one of their clients suppliers. I achieved this by implementing quantitative methodologies. I was asked to stay with AC when the project was completed but I chose to leave Warwick and move to London.

Although AC gave me invaluable experience I feel that my skills in the research field are not significant for me to find employment. The project was entirely my responsibility and although I was given a present for the hard work and results I achieved,I feel I did not learn well-practised MR techniques particular to the industry.

I attended Leeds Met University and obtained a 2.1 in BSc (Hons) Health Studies. This modular course involved, amongst others, studying various research methodologies, biology, sociology, psychology and health economics.

I am very keen to use the skills I have acquired and developed since employment and the interests and knowledge I gained whilst at University. I graduated in 1997.

Do you have any advice that you could email me, concerning career entry into market research? Is there a particular area of MR that I would be more successful in obtaining interviews? Salary is not particularly important as long as I can survive in London!

A.   Nick says: Without knowing more about the specific market research experience you have I must assume it is very limited. Nevertheless I think you may be underestimating your likelihood to interest an employer. Have you approached any research companies yet?

Your experience in the fashion business and particularly at AC should get you noticed - in applications you should go into more detail about the nature of the project you ran at AC, how you got the job and your achievements. By relating your strengths to research activity you will go a long way to persuading someone to consider you.

There are some companies that have expertise in the fashion sector, but not many. These ought to be interested in you. Otherwise, look for agencies that conduct research at the end of the distribution chain that your company operates, i.e. if your company is a retailer look for agencies that focus on retail research. The objective is to use every bit of experience you have to convince an employer that you have knowledge to trade for training.

It does appear that you have a number of transferable skills and very few people are going to ignore someone who was considered worthy of a job at Anderson Consulting. You may need to take a cut in salary but if you're good you'll go up the pay scale fairly quickly.

The Research Buyers Guide is a good source of research agencies and has plenty of information about each one. It is available from main and business libraries or directoy from the Market Research Society.

Q36.   I am looking to get into Market Research as I find it very interesting. I am trying to get in as a Data Analyst type position as I did Social Sciences and that has a high content of statistics and research.

I am currently working in an administrative role, which does involve an element of statistical work. I was wondering how I would go about doing this, and also whether I could easily get into such a position with my limited experience.

A.   Nick says: Most full service agencies have their own DP departments and there are a number of companies that specialise in DP services for market research.

The Research Buyer's Guide, available from main and business libraries or
directly from the Market Research Society lists all the suitable companies
- Half a day with a pen and pad should yield a good long list of companies
for you to approach!

However, I would imagine that you will need particular computing skills or
familiarity with certain programmes. I'm afraid I don't know what these
are and so before you embark on a big exercise, I would recommend you phone one or two heads of DP departments to find out exactly what they look for in analysts. This may save you a lot of wasted letters if you need to get certain skills first.

Q35.   I have been employed in the travel industry, mostly business travel, for 18 years and wonder if I could use this experience to get into market research and also what M.R. companies are in the Manchester area. I would appreciate a reply as analyzing figures and trends has always been of
interest to me.

A.   Nick says: The travel industry is big and you have given me no clue as to what you actually do except that you enjoy analysing data. I suggest you firstly get
a book about market research and identify where your skills and experience
can be transferred over and then get hold of the Research Buyers Guide, or
some similar directory, available from most central or business libraries,
for a list of research companies in your geographical area.

Q34.   Hi, I am looking for some career advice. I have a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Health Psychology and for the past 2 and a half years I have been working in research - for 1.5 years in hospital based health research and for one year in a commercial setting doing more consumer based research. I am keen to move into market research sometime in the future as much of what I do presently has a market research slant and I enjoy this very much. I would be grateful if you could advise me, however, of what skills and knowledge I should be trying to develop before I apply for market research jobs to increase my chances of getting a good job in a good company.

A.   Nick says: Without more information it's difficult to know how relevant your current area of research is to consumer research. However, developing your understanding of brands and marketing will be a big help, but you should also play to your research strengths and transferable skills when looking for a new company. Decide on whether staying on the client side is more feasible than agency. Again, without knowing about your current situation it's difficult to advise on this. As a rule of thumb, long term progress in market research really needs 3 - 5 years on the supply side, developing your technical skills.

However, the most important factor is going to be your personality. This will have a much greater bearing on your likelihood of success in consumer research than your current skills and experience.

Good luck

Q30.   I have been working in direct sales positions for about 7 years (CV attached), and now wish to give a different direction to my career and develop new skills. I am currently trying to enter the market research industry in order to work on the analysis aspect of business information, which one uses as facts rather than strategic tools in a regular sales position.

What would be the best way to enter this industry? I am in my 30s, and have already studied for quite a few years. Do I need to train again? Should I get a sales position within a market research company and then move to a researcher job rather than try to change everything i.e. job, company, industry and probably town too?

A.   Nick says: Unfortunately, I'm afraid that you may struggle to get into market research, even as a graduate trainee or junior. Companies are really in need of up and running researchers at the moment. Studying for the MRS Diploma may help but it is quite a commitment and won't guarantee a job at the end.

It's unlikely that you would be of great interest in a sales capacity as you would need to demonstrate an ability to discuss detailed research needs with clients. The skills you use in your current role such as cold calling are not as valuable in research as the ability to interpret a problem and design a research based solution.

That said, you do have quite a lot going for you so don't be discouraged. The best way to get into research is to utilise your existing skills and expertise. Since you have knowledge of software markets and distribution channels you ought to approach research agencies that focus on IT. In return for your training you will be able to provide knowledge that will help the employer to deliver insightful research and your presence at meetings will add gravitas for them. Your ability to offer insight at the data analysis stage will mean that you are providing real value from the start. On top of all this, your language skills ought to be of interest to companies that conduct international research. Please remember, however, that your English must be as good as perfect since there is plenty of report writing and presenting in research. Languages that you are less than fluent with are no more than handy.

Q29.   I am thinking of making a career change from teaching into MR. I have a psycholgy degree and experience as an interviewer. I am 31 years old and have not worked for 3 years as I have been raising my daughter. What would you advise as a sensible first step towards breaking into Market Research? Would you recommend further qualifications?

A.   Nick says: I think teachers make excellent researchers on the whole. If you have a psychology degree then so much the better. You need to be prepared to go in fairly low down, probably RE level as without project management experience you'll need some basic training. What you ought to have already in place are decent interpersonal, communication and presentation skills as well as the ability to absorb and synthesise information.

The MRS Diploma and Certificate are excellent qualifications but by no means represent a passport to entry and neither is not having them a barrier. Many employers will support your studies if they think you have potential, whereas they won't automatically take you on if you have already passed if they don't think you have what it takes to succeed. In an employees market such as we are currently experiencing I'm not sure an MR qualification will help significantly.

So what should you do next? Decide what size, style or type of agency is going to suit your personality and research interests. You must also take into account location, of course. As a teacher you probably worked fairly locally to home. You may need to travel some way to get to a market research agency. I don't think you can say that any type of company is more or less likely to be interested in you. The Research Buyers Guide, available from most main libraries and the MRS is a good directory for identifying appropriate companies. Use any contacts you have in the industry. The process could take some time and you may struggle to get interviews. If this is the case broaden your search. If you are committed to a career in research the main thing is to get your foot in the door. You can always move to a more suitable company later.

Also, some recruitment consultants maintain close relationships with their clients and may see your personality as particularly well suited to the culture of one or other of them. They may be worth contacting.

I won't say it will be easy for you. I wish employers would take a greater interest in career changers, particularly teachers, but on the whole they don't. Don't give up, 'though, and I'm sure you'll get there. Good luck!

* NB don't forget you can also use our own directory of agencies at www.mrweb.com/agencies - admittedly there are more in the Buyer's Guide but ours gives a good selection - Nick Thomas.

Q13.   I have come to the conclusion that if I stay in market research, then I want to specialise in Qual. I have a smattering of experience ... but having been left to my own devices, I know what I am doing. However, I need to go somewhere that would both nurture my skills and develop them. I have confidence in my own ability, but have so far been disregarded because of inexperience.

Will I be looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack in trying to find such a role? Should I just Quit and go home?

A.   Sinead says: Unfortunately you seem to be trapped in the "can’t get a job without experience" cycle. You won’t be able to get a job in Qualitative research unless you have experience of moderating groups, the best thing that you can do is spend time trying to get some more Qual experience. Speak to the people in [your company’s] Qual [dept] and try and get involved with some of the work they are doing, observe as many groups as you can and see if they will let you moderate some groups. As most Qual work takes place in the evening it shouldn’t interfere with your regular work.

It will be difficult for a recruitment agency to help you get into Qual as you don’t have lots of experience, however you should try applying to Qualitative agencies directly to see if this will be more fruitful. Finally be aware of what a career in Qualitative research will involve - on the downside it usually involves lots of long hours and late nights driving back from groups. If you are prepared and dedicated you will be successful - if I can be of any more help please let me know.

Q6.   What's the importance of being able to demonstrate commitment to / interest in MR in holiday jobs, additional Qualifications, MRS membership or other affiliations, when going for a first job?

A.   Sinead says: This can depend on the competition. If going for an interview and your knowledge of research is text book you might be pipped at the post by someone who has had some MR work experience. You wouldn't be expected to have MRS membership. You must be able to demonstrate commitment in the interview, ie show conviction that you want a career in research, have a good understanding of what research is and what the company you are interviewing at does.

Q4.   Do I have to make my mind up what sort of research I want to do before I join a company / go for interviews - ie Qual or Quant, consumer, social, b2b, new media vs other sectors, etc...? How easy is it to switch once I'm working?

A.   Sinead says: If you are a graduate, be open minded and then you can be considered for a variety of roles. If you have had a year's experience you may have started to develop key skills and you might want to continue to develop these or you might want to start again in a slightly different area. The Qual/Quant debate is tricky, it is good to have experience of both but there are not many companies where you are given the option to work on both. This decision is usually made on a more personal level and comes down to what you prefer. If you work in an agency that works across many different sectors then you will be exposed to a wider client base and this could be useful for defining what you prefer.

Q2.   If I want a career on the exec side - an RE, SRE, AD, Director (not field or DP) eventually, can I get a first step by being a) an interviewer, b) a field supervisor or coder, for example?

A.   Sinead says: It really depends on the company you work for: in big agencies there is often the opportunity to move across into the exec side. Otherwise make sure that you are constantly progressing - get some experience of all aspects of the research process (ie. field AND DP) this will be beneficial when trying to break into the exec side.

Q1.   What are the best Qualifications for someone looking to break into MR after graduating?

A.   Sinead says: Any degree involving numeracy and analysis is useful. Geography, economics, stats and marketing are all useful for a market research career. If you are keen to get involved in Qual research psychology is always useful as well as literary degrees. In short most degrees will be relevant. It is important to have conducted some research and to be sure of why you want to develop a career in market research - you will be asked at interview!
   

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






© MrWeb Ltd 2010