What Does it Mean to Be a Scheduler, and How Do I Become One?
Original Post Feb, 13 2011 I read something hilarious today that sums up the frustration and overwhelming feeling that a scheduler often experiences with an enormous amount of spirit and humor. Schedulers, this is for you: What is it like to Be a Scheduler? "Go out into your garage and find all the unsafe power tools you can. First try hitting each of your fingers multiple times with a hammer. Then make sure to operate all of your electronic gadgets. Be sure not to follow ANY of the posted safety warnings. Make sure to have your feet submerged in an ice chest filled with water while doing this. If you survive with all fingers and limbs in place, enjoy the pain of electrocution, AND you have an extra 60-80 hours per week with NOTHING to do, please email us. We are always looking for a few good recruits." On a serious note, schedulers have an enormous responsibility and a difficult job. In a nutshell, this is what it means to be a scheduler: A scheduler is an integral team member and vital to the success of any assignment or project. A scheduler is paid by the shop, regardless of how many times that particular shop needs to be scheduled and rescheduled in order to achieve completion. A scheduler is typically paid between $2 and $7 per shop, depending upon degree of difficulty to fill that shop. Factors considered when evaluating how difficult a shop may be to fill include: location of the shop, size of the project, rotation (how often a single shopper can do this shop or shop a specific target or location), demographics and experience requirement for the shop, expectations and time involvement before, during, and after a shop. Schedulers will often work for multiple companies, and if they work for only one company, they will often work on several projects, as the best way for a scheduler to increase income is with volume. Typically, schedulers are assigning and monitoring hundreds or even thousands of shops per month, which means that they are also communicating with hundreds and thousands of shoppers and potential shoppers every month. Since schedulers are monitoring a variety of projects and shops that are taking place at varying times during any given 24 hour period and up to 7 days per week, availability is key. A scheduler will check email multiple times per day and may respond to hundreds of telephone calls and emails every single day. In addition to contacting shoppers already registered and in that company's database, schedulers typically also fill the role of recruiter, requiring posting on multiple forums, groups, job boards and other resources, as well as cold calling to potential new shoppers and continuously locating new resources and utilizing social media venues. Schedulers locate appropriate candidates, answer shopper questions, help to plan routes for multiple shops, and are the shopper's primary contact before, during, and after a shop. Schedulers are heavily relied upon, both by companies and shoppers. They're the first ones up in the morning and the last ones to bed. Their phones ring nonstop, and their email accounts are filled to the brim. They're problem solvers, independently driven, resourceful, and responsible. Yet they tend to be the least acknowledged by the greatest number of people. Today, Market Research Pros would like to send a special, "Thank You!" to all schedulers. We salute you! -Kelly Truelove Original Post Feb, 15 2011: So, How Does One Become A Scheduler? If the above posts didn't frighten you into a state of perpetual nervous twitches and uncontrolled screaming and you are still interested, or if you are just curious, here's our response to that question. First of all, learn to be an excellent shopper, a "Go-To" Guy or Gal. When a scheduler calls you, be available. When a company has a need, be available. Don't ask for things like travel, gas, and per diem when it's not necessary or appropriate, take short notice assignments and show that you are a responsible individual who cares about the success of the project and everyone involved. Understand that failing to complete a shop or failing to follow directions is detrimental to any assignment or project. Respect the time and efforts of every team member involved in the process of making that shop happen and ensuring that it is client-ready. Then, once you feel that you are experienced enough to take responsibility for a project, contact companies you have worked with and make your interest and availability known. Interact with companies via social media and network at educational events, meet-ups and other group events. Form relationships, continue to express interest, and continue to ask questions and never, never stop learning. -Kelly Truelove