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The Career Clinic - UK


Salary questions / what am I worth..?

 
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


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PREVIOUS QUESTIONS

Q60.   I have been working for a market research company in the home counties since last year, and my salary is 15,500... what sort of salary should I expect. I am in two minds as to whether I will continue with my position with them - would that look bad on my cv having only been there a year?
Answer

Q28.   [I'm an SRE for a fairly large agency doing qual, have moderated 10's of groups etc...]

1 - Is it me or are they taking the mickey by paying me [<£18k] with no benefits

2 - what do you think would be a fair reflection of my experience (roughly)?

Answer

Q8.   Is it true that salaries for new media researchers are forging ahead of the rest of the industry? Are there any other sectors matching or outperforming this?
Answer



Questions in full and answers



Q60.   I am a graduate with a first who has been working for a market research company in the home counties since last year, mainly on consumer studies. My salary is 15,500. I am awaiting an appraisal and just wondered what sort of salary I could expect having been there a year as an executive researcher. I would also like any info on other jobs fitting my qualifications preferably still in this area as I am in two minds as to whether I will continue with my position with them - would that look bad on my cv having only been there a year?

A.   Debby says: Some agencies do pay more, but realistically a 2k rise in a year would not be bad going and you are not in Central London.I think you would be best advised to stay put to achieve a bit more than a year - at least 18 months perhaps - albeit push to take on more responsibility, get the chance to present etc. Although a year is OK,realistically you are only a little way along the learning curve.

If you are really dissatisfied with the training and exposure you are getting, tactfully ask how they see your job moving on/what extra training they are planning - and if that does not elicit a good response, say what you are hoping for - perhaps some presentation experience or some trial group moderation... and some courses. If that falls on deaf ears then you could be justified in seeking a move. Right now the market is very quiet. Junior jobs are in particularly short supply - not least because last year's grad trainees are moving on and up to make way for September's in-take.

Q28.   I've been working for a fairly large agency doing purely qualitative research for [just under 2 years] now. I've been through the graduate program and spent [time] as an RE before being made an SRE. I've moderated 10's of groups and I've taken briefs for smaller projects, and debriefed on my own a few times.

My questions are:

1 - Is it me or are they taking the mickey by paying me [<£18k] with no benefits

2 - what do you think would be a fair reflection of my experience (roughly)?

A.   Nick says: This is something I am often asked about and it's an issue that is much more complicated than it seems. The short answer is that your pay should reflect your value to the organsiation you work for. If you are excellent, but for whatever reason (i.e. within or outside your control) you're financial contribution is not high, then you're not worth much to your company. In another company you may be worth more because your skills, or style, lend themselves better to the business model.

What you really want to know is whether you could get bigger bucks elsewhere, and you possibly want to know this so you have ammunition for a pay-rise at your next review. OK, the answer is you probably could earn more elsewhere. Qualitative researchers are a scarce commodity at the moment and much in demand. However, how much you could get is harder to say. Different employers take different things into account. One important factor is based on years' experience rather than type of experience. If you were to join a a company on a level with people who have been in the business for considerably longer than you you may upset them and others lower down the scale. This is something companies must take into account as they may not want to lose two or three disgruntled good people for one exceptional person. Another consideration is emotional maturity and interpersonal skills. Most people can be taught how to "do research" (some are more suited to quant, others qual) but what you can't be taught so easily is how to be credible with your clients and how to develop productive relationships with them and your colleagues. So it's not simply a question of "I've done all this so how much will someone pay me".

If you feel that your employer is underpaying you then the first step is to talk to them about it. They may have good reasons. If those reasons don't convince you then look elsewhere. Do remember, however, that dissatisfaction with a current employer is rarely a convincing reason for a new employer to take you on. If you are offerred a new job, think about how it will affect your career development and longer term prospects as well as immediate financial reward. Some people at your level are attracted to the client side because the money is considered to be better. You should take into account what learning and experience you will gain if you do this and think about whether staying on the agency side will set you up better for the long term.

So you can see that it's not just a question of who will pay more. If you make the wrong move your salary in 5 years time may be much less than it would be if you stayed where you are and continued to move at such a fast pace. That said, you are clearly ambitious and confident and in your position I would let my employer know that you suspect you are worth more than they are paying and that you are considering looking elsewhere. Let them make you an offer. If they don't want to lose you they'll be foolish to make you too low an offer without good reason. If they are not prepared to do so I think someone else will.

Q8.   Is it true that salaries for new media researchers are forging ahead of the rest of the industry? Are there any other sectors matching or outperforming this?

A.   Sinead says: Yes to a certain extent new media research salaries are higher, but new media salaries are higher in all professions at the moment. With many of these companies there is a certain amount of risk involved and also with start ups there are often no benefits, just basic salaries + stock options which may or may not be realised. The current climate indicates that there will be more consumer dot com failures and it is likely that traditional companies with an online business will prove to be more sturdy than the newcomers. It is still a very exciting sector and the roles on offer are challenging and in many cases you can be a part of writing your own job description. It's a work hard and play hard business and the people who are in it now will find that the experience they are gaining is invaluable.
   

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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