​Many candidates who start off their job search wanting to work for a clientside organisation, often end up working for a research agency and vice versa. So are you better suited to clientside or agency? Here are my top 6 things to consider - to help you weigh up (sorry!) the difference.

1. Work

Clientside - You will be able to focus on one brand or group of brands, on a particular area of their business. The great thing about this is you can really get under the skin of the business, however, if you like working across a range of brands in different industries, this might not be right for you.

Agency - There is greater opportunity to work across a number of clients and types of projects, which can allow for variety – so for those of you who like to know that no two days are the same, this might work better. However, there will of course be roles in these businesses, where you are dedicated to a particular client or area.

Score – Draw

2. Environment

Clientside – You will be able to work with marketing, strategy, sales and other areas, that you won’t necessarily get exposure to in an agency. You may find that you are in a team of other researchers, or you could be the only one. You will be closer to the end results, but it’s important to work somewhere that values insight.

Agency – You will be working in a team of researchers, who will be facing similar challenges to you and will be able to bounce ideas off of each other. You will be able to excel in developing your supplier and candidate management.

Score –Very much personal preference but as this is my list –Agency

3. Creativity

Clientside- It’s really difficult to say how much research you will do. If you are commissioning then the creativity will lie with the agency and you may be just managing the results. However, you may be able to secure a position where you are doing a mix.

Agency- As creative as you want! If your client wants you to be….

Score – Hands down, Agency win with their sheer ability to ensure exposure to cutting edge research methodologies.

4. Work life balance

Clientside - There is more chance in a Clientside role that you will be doing the hours you are contracted to, unless there is a particularly urgent deadline. Though, of course, client cultures vary enormously with some allowing for a better work-life balance than others.

Agency - With the increase in agile/ flexible working hours, agencies are getting better but still if your client needs something delivered, you are likely to stay until it’s done…..although you might be able to do it from home.

Score - Win to clientside at the moment but agencies are continually improving on work life balance.

5. The Job

Clientside- It can be a hugely rewarding job to see the research you have had a hand in effect the business you work in. Plus you can have exposure to senior stakeholders, where you can deliver the insights!

Agency- You will see the results but won’t be as close to it. You can take pride from afar though, and you’ll still be working closely with your clients and know that you helped to make a difference. Plus, you’ll have the chance to see a few things change, which you might not get in a clientside company.

Score- Hard one I have to have a draw (sorry for the cop out) but this one will come down to the specifics of the company and the role.

6. Training and Development

Clientside- Most clientside organisations will offer some training and development but it is unlikely specifically around your skill set. That said I know of some companies who do work with the MRS on specific training.

Agency- 90% of agencies will offer classroom and on the job training from a wide range of sources

Score – Clear one here Agency- if you want to keep learning in research this is the way to do it

Final Scores

Client side -1

Agency –3

Draw – 2

It's a knockout! Today's winners are….Agency

But seriously, there's no right or wrong and where you are in your career, your experience and motivators will help you decide which option is best. But in an industry where a few years ago it was all about Clientside, Agency has made a convincing come back.

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