The Role of Culture in Hiring MR Talent
In this market there is less hiring going on, which theoretically should lead to a richer candidate pool for companies looking for market mesearch talent. Yet according to Karen Morgan of recruiting firm Morgan Search International, presenting at TMRE 2011, companies tell her they are having a harder time than ever finding the right talent. So where is the disconnect?
Surely, companies now have higher standards and are more willing to wait to find the candidate that fills all of the requirements rather than just a majority of them. But Karen also says that companies aren’t being creative enough in the profiles they are hiring for. She references comments made by Stan Sthanunathan in his discussion on the 21st Century Market Researcher, and says that finding a cultural fit with someone who has the right set of general skills can be just as important as finding someone who checks all the boxes of the requirements you’ve laid out in a job description.
Karen hosted three panelists who outlined how their companies balance the need for both a cultural and skill fit.
Jason Anderson is the market research department at Blizzard Entertainment. His research career has been focused solely on video games, but he fell into the profession as an engineering manager. The culture at Blizzard is 'passionate perfectionism', and every person at the company is passionate about the products and uses them. His position was vacant for about a year and half because the company required someone who aligned with the company’s culture, with the right mix of creativity and curiosity.
Ari Popper of Brainjuicer says he’s always suspicious when people say their life’s dream is to do market research. He looks for candidates who are interesting and curious, rather than people who have a detailed MR background. He puts a lot more weight on emotional intelligence and someone’s ability to build relationships over time. Why? As a company that is trying to change the way market research is done, Brainjuicer needs change agents with good people skills.
Antony Bartel from Intel fell into market research as well, although his formal training as an economist provided him with relevant skills. He actually looks for people with MR experience and puts equal importance on solid research skills with an assertive and curious personality that fits with the Intel culture. Internal candidates are encouraged, but the technical skill set is a must -- so much so that the interview process involves a formal presentation that’s open to Q&A from members of his department.
With so much close attention being paid to finding just the right fit, Karen asked how you assess whether someone will work out? For Andy, the presentation is a key part of the process, and typically he knows within the first six months whether someone will survive. Ari says the fit – or lack of it – is apparent within 4-8 weeks, and he doesn’t trust ‘tests’ that try to assess fit in a formulaic manner. At Blizzard, though, the company has less than a 1% attrition rate, which Jason attributes to the company’s commitment to hiring people who know and use the products and who are passionate about gaming.
Smaller, faster growing vendors are the companies that are hiring more steadily in this economy. When client-side firms hire, they are hiring more at the midlevel, rather than the executive level; in fact senior level executives at clients are more likely to stay put. To this point, Karen adds that this is the time when companies should be ensuring their senior level managers are engaged and happy. Otherwise, they risk an exodus if and when the economy picks up.