What Smith Hanley Expects in 2024 Market Research Hiring

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Our December blog reviewed market research 2023 and gave detailed salary information. Now we move on to 2024 market research hiring and what our experienced recruiters at Smith Hanley Associates are finding companies and candidates are looking for.

Top 5 Things Companies Are Looking For

Passion & Loyalty
Companies want to interview candidates who want to work for their company. They also like candidates who have shown growth and commitment in their prior positions. If a candidate’s background is full of one-to-two-year stints at other companies, it is a red flag especially in the marketplace we experienced in 2023. Making a hire is a large investment for a company so they are trying to make sure it is the right decision for everyone’s long term success.

We often hear that companies are passing on candidates because they felt the candidate was under prepared or showed little interest in the work the company does. All candidates should be able to answer “Why do you want to work here?” with a thoughtful and genuine response. If that is a question you cannot answer, the role is probably one you shouldn’t pursue.

This is something you hear echoed constantly from organizations as well as candidates. In many ways culture has become the number one concern for both candidates and employers alike. However, what these two sides mean when they say culture can be drastically different. To a candidate, culture is viewed through the lens of their immediate needs and expectations in the day-to-day setting. Can I get along well with those I work closely with, does the company share my morals?

For a company it is different. Of course, they still want to have employees feel valued and motivated by their work and relationships. However, the main motivation is more directly tied to financial impacts. Having a more aligned culture with motivated employees leads to a more productive workforce, stronger employee retention and long-term stability in staffing and leadership. All of these are correlated to successful organizations who emphasize hiring employees that best fit into their company culture.

Diversity and inclusion were a large emphasis for companies in 2023. The motivation to grow and build a more diverse workforce is still there. Seeing this push continue in 2024, and not be a fad of hiring when the candidates held a majority of the power, is a good sign. Even in a year where companies hold the cards in negotiations, diversity and inclusion are important considerations when hiring. Companies understand that a diverse work force is beneficial not only for their firm, but for the effectiveness of their research as well. Diversity across all areas helps build voices and advocates for those groups in the companies AND in the research.

Skillset Versatility
Companies continue to look for employees that can add value across numerous skillsets for their organization. There is high demand for what we call soft skills like integrity, decision-making and leadership.

These soft skills are not easily reviewable on your resume but show true value across numerous verticals and job requirements. Finding someone that has hard skills and can execute day one is certainly a minimum requirement, but if they come with the soft skills that can grow a team or develop a new area for the business they are invaluable assets to bring on board.

In 2024 market research hiring companies are continuing the 2023 trend of a return to office mindset. Of course, a factor in the work-from home trend was the cost associated with having a brick and mortar office space. Companies are balancing that cost against employees feeling disengaged from work where they feel no real connection with their coworkers. A large push for getting back to an in-office presence a few days a week has seen morale improve and a feeling that it brings a more creative approach to problem solving. Having everyone together a few days a week helps build a strong comradery for the teams and helps employees have a clearer understanding of role and trajectory.

Top 5 Things Candidates Are Looking For

Work life balance continues to remain a hot topic for candidates. As we see the large shift in 2022 begin to tilt back to the way things were before Covid, candidates are still prioritizing their need for work life balance in their search. The “family first” culture was popular among both candidates and clients in 2022 and there is a strong desire for that focus to continue. The flexibility to take care of a personal matter and then hop back to work or stay later that day are some of key points in family first culture. Even the ability to take a mental health day has become more common with companies in 2023 and if candidates have their way, that flexibility should continue into 2024.

In-Person Interaction
Yes, it is surprising but candidates are looking to be back in the office for some face to face interaction in 2024 market research. As we have seen the shift from Covid, candidates have been much more receptive to a hybrid model, rather than fully remote. One thing Covid has taught is the importance of collaboration in person, and how crucial connecting with our coworkers is. This directly relates to team and individual morale, feeling seen and workplace happiness.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
DEI still remains a pillar for candidates in their job search. As we move forward into 2024, it is no longer just about having people of color, women, and LGBTQIA communities present in the organization, but also is this part of what the organization stands for? What is the company doing with their funding? Are they putting money in the pockets of people who are deemed morally wrong? Candidates are doing research beyond the basic day-to-day company talking points. They are investigating company culture beyond who their clients are and the charities they support.

Honesty and Transparency
Honesty from employers was a standard talking point in 2023 for candidates. Honesty in all aspects, from performance reviews to the trajectory of their career and the goals of the company, will continue to be a priority for this generation of candidates in 2024. In 2023 we saw numerous layoffs and some of them shockingly unpredictable. Some candidates felt led astray, others had to be honest with themselves that they were not asking the right questions to be able to get clear and honest answers for their place in the organization.

Trajectory has become increasingly important for candidates. Candidates are focusing on the bigger picture more these days, particularly where their career path fits into the organization and its goals. More often than not, candidates have been far more inquisitive on the front end of where a job can take them rather than focusing on just getting their foot in the door. Candidates want a clear picture of their growth path and promotion opportunities before they accept the position.

We are seeing a strong start to first quarter 2024 market research hiring. We don’t expect 2024 to be as go-go as 2022 but we see a definite increase in openings from 2023.

We wish everyone a year of success! Please reach out to Smith Hanley Associates’ for all of your market research and consumer insights hiring needs in 2024. We’d love to hear from you.

Lindsey Bartlett, lbartlett@smithhanley.com

Daniel Wilberschied, dwilberschied@smithhanley.com

Pierson Wofford, pwofford@smithhanley.com

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