The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Market Research: In the interest of some entertainment in these dark January days, I thought I would compile a list of ‘expired’ things from the Market Research Industry, from a long time before I founded The Stats People. Researchers aged 40+ may titter or still have nightmares about these.
Here is number 1 / 10 of research things that have vanished from this earth.
No. 1 – ‘Junior’ research job titles
The titles “Junior Research executive” (JRE) or “Research Assistant” (RA) were the first rung on the ladder when you parachuted into your first job. If you were lucky, you got assigned to a nice ‘Senior Researcher’ who would pass on their gems of knowledge and if you were very lucky, would occasionally buy you drinks at the local watering hole, take you to somewhere really sophisticated like Costas Coffee to do your appraisal over a cappuccino and maybe tell the senior partners what a good egg you were on their project.
You were likely to be given coma-inducing jobs to cut your teeth on, like maintaining a database using some clunky out-of-date software (Lotus or a primitive MS-DOS based program), spec’ing and checking the tables for a twenty-four-country study on every wave of a 170-page questionnaire monthly tracker or checking the data in PowerPoint charts. Your natural ability, attention to detail, accuracy, ability to stay awake in the face of repetitive work and “getting on with it” would see you quickly promoted to plain old “Research Executive” (RE) within a year or so as well as more interesting ad-hoc work.
The ‘Junior’ job titles went out of fashion as hierarchical structures became unfashionable. My employer from the mid-90s and early noughties, MORI, tended to offer researchers at the beginning of their career more varied work than the other big beasts of the day (I will name no names, but we used to hire a lot of their ex-JREs!). MORI moved towards a matrix structure and 360-degree appraisals. Agencies began to recognise that keeping JREs and RAs in repetitive jobs was just feeding the recruitment consultant merry-go-round and that the work needed to be varied and interesting to retain people once they were trained.
BUT, the tedious jobs are very important part of research. Even now, as owner of my own business, I see table and script checking, having an eye for detail, thoroughness in your prep, proof-reading and an awareness of things that can go wrong as essentials skills. These are not the bits of research that set the world alight and of course the big picture stuff is what sells the project to clients. But without these our work as research experts is on shaky ground – a dangerous place in this era of DIY research.
So the moral for today is embrace the grunt work and be thankful for an aspirational sounding job title!
Next up: Old-school filing systems and paper memos