Job guides

How to get an entry-level User/Market Research job?

Role Basics: What is User Research?

Researchers understand user behavior to inform how Product and Marketing teams design and promote products.

Flavors of Research roles: 

  • User research is more focused on user experience and often sits within Product Management or Product Design
  • Market research is more focused on purchasing decisions and sits in Marketing. 

Example projects in User Research:

Common activities in User Research:

User Research metrics: 

  • Output metrics like number of interviews or projects completed
  • Usage and satisfaction impact of user research (e.g. satisfaction with research team, requests for research, features or campaigns that used research) 

User Research compensation: 

Entry jobs pay $60-100K

User Research career path: 

Good. User research works closely with design, product and marketing, and can evolve in any of those directions.

How accessible are User Research jobs?

  • Time to learn. 500+ hours. 6 month.
  • Selectivity. Moderate. Academic credentials help a lot – social science degrees are great, especially psychology, sociology, and anthropology for interviewing and qualitative methods. 
  • Ease of working remote. Good for remote. A lot of research is done remotely. So teams that rely on remote interviews and surveys can easily accommodate remote work. 

Job Requirements: What you need to be competitive for Research roles?

Key skills for User Research:

  • Interviewing
  • Qualitative research design, methods, and analysis
  • Basic quantitative research design, methods, and analysis
  • Familiarity with key deliverables: customer personas, journey maps, 
  • Spreadsheet and data analysis skills
  •  Great writer and communicator
  • Experience working cross-functionally with limited formal authority

Professional background for User Research:

Strong academic background – both good school and good grades – helps. 

Prior accomplishments to be competitive for User Research:

  • Experience designing, running and analyzing
  • Portfolio of user or market research projects and deliverables 

Personal characteristics for success in User Research:

  • Analytical. 
  • User-focused. 
  • Curious. 

Key User Research concepts and resources:

By Taylor Thompson

Taylor is a co-founder at Purpose Built Ventures, where he helps launch mission-driven companies. Before Purpose Built, Taylor led growth at Almanac, strategy for Curious Learning, and product at PharmaSecure. His work helps 100,000s of people collaborate at work, 4 million children learn to read, and protects billions of medicines from counterfeiting. He has hired dozens of people, helped raise more than $50 million, and contributed to as a researcher with Clay Christensen. Taylor is an Echoing Green Fellow, and he has degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School.

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