5 Options for Finding & Hiring a Researcher

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May 15, 2015

One of the biggest turning points in my business came when I realized I couldn’t and shouldn’t do it all myself.

Hiring researchers has made a massive difference in both my productivity and revenue. It also made a huge difference in terms of how much I’ve been able to enjoy my work, as I was able to offload the tedious or annoying tasks that would eat up my time. This has allowed me to zero in on the highly leveraged activities that produce big results.

If you’re interested in hiring a researcher but don’t know where to start, the five ideas below will provide you with some options. 

1. Use a Contract Researcher

I often tell recruiting firm owners that they will want to have contact with several good contract researchers before they ever need one. This provides them the confidence to take on large search projects knowing they have an ad hoc work force ready to pitch in and provide support. Having options for contract research support will also give you more confidence when selling your services or taking on a retainer.

You can either hire an individual or an actual research support company. My preference is always to hire a company to avoid having a single point of failure. For example, if you hire an individual and that person goes on vacation, or goes into a new line of business, you have to start a new relationship from scratch. By contrast, if you use a company, then the relationship can continue even if individual players at the company change.

If you are looking to hire an individual, you may want to start with a web service such as Upwork (the merger of Elance and oDesk).

If you’re looking to hire a support company, you could check out firms such as International Executive Search and Research or Ezee Soft Tech. Please note that I am not in any way endorsing or recommending any of the above companies, I’m just letting you know they exist so you can conduct your own research.

2. Hire a Pro

You can find and hire professional researchers from either corporate human resources departments or retained search firms. Both of these sources will typically have people who fill a research type role within their organizations. Be aware that titles are not universal so the people you would be interested in may have a title other than “Researcher.”

The upside is that they come in ready to work, often well trained, and experienced. In some cases you will be able to speak to references who can fill in the gaps regarding work the researcher has performed. The down side is that they will cost you much more than a person you train yourself. Retained firms in particular tend to pay much more than the average contingency or contract firm.

3. Hire a Novice

If you prefer training your own person from the ground up, there are several options. I have found very good luck with this profile:

A woman in her 30’s or 40’s who used to work in a business setting, but has been out of the workforce for several years while raising children. She now want to rejoin the workforce, but not at full speed.

Of course this role could be performed equally as well by a man, but in my particular region, it seems that mom’s reentering the work force are more likely to respond to postings for this kind of part time job type.

Typically these women want a part time or three-quarter time position. This is because they want a lot of flexibility in their schedule so they can be available for their children. If you can offer a flexible schedule, this is an excellent group to target as they are often loyal, seasoned, and responsible.

4. Hire a College Student

It might sound strange but I’ve also had good experience with college students; many other owners have as well. Obviously they will perform lower level tasks, but if you have clear systems, scripts and forms for them to use, they can be quite effective. I’ve found that business majors (good drive) and English majors (well spoken) seem to perform well in a research role.

Call up your local college and find out about running an ad in the school newspaper. You can often also post a flier on the bulletin boards and submit your position to the career center. Be sure to interview them via the phone first to test for voice quality and maturity.

5. Work Your Network

Ask everyone you know for referrals: neighbors, friends, employees etc. If you see someone in a restaurant or a store whom you think might be a fit see if you can make a connection. Post a want ad at the local church or fitness club.

Create an employee referral program to encourage your current staff to join you in looking for researchers. Give them an idea of what your ideal researcher would look like. Provide a cash incentive for anyone they refer who makes it past 90 days.

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