Advice from CMOs: How to cut your marketing budget during an economic downturn

Advice from CMOs: How to cut your marketing budget during an economic downturn

It’s a long-held truism in our industry that when companies need to cut costs, marketing budgets are among the first to be slashed. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw this trend begin to shift, thanks in large part to our increased reliance on digital technology, and advances in marketing analytics. 

Today, marketing budgets have reset to pre-pandemic levels, and marketing is often seen as a revenue driver, not a cost center – but that doesn’t mean it’s safe.

As we enter another period of economic uncertainty, many marketing leaders are feeling a sense of déjà vu, and looking back at more recent history for the playbook, rather than 2008. While the advertising industry seems to be bracing for a downturn, with some sources forecasting drastic cuts over the coming years if consumer spending doesn’t turn around, marketing spend isn’t slowing among some of the world’s top consumer brands. In fact, total ad media spending is expected to continue its 13.2% growth trajectory year over year in 2022.

So, how are today’s CMOs thinking about and preparing for the period ahead? What would they do if given no choice but to tighten their belts? 

We asked them:

If your CEO and/or CFO approached you tomorrow and told you to cut 15% of your department’s total budget for the next 12 months, what would you cut and how?

The CMOs we posed this question to have “been there, done that” – and come out the other side with invaluable lessons to share. They not only bring a breadth and depth of experience that could prove helpful to marketing leaders in all industries, but they’re already having the tough conversations at a high level and preparing for what could be on the horizon. 

Following their lead will help you make smart, strategic choices for your organization and team, so you can emerge an even stronger leader. 

Here’s what our CMOs recommend.

1. Take an honest and unflinching assessment of where you stand.

Our first CMO presides over the marketing budget of a multi-billion-dollar global cosmetics company. She shared her step-by-step plan for gaining the clarity needed to move forward with confidence: 

Align and prioritize

“First, make sure that there is alignment regarding the key initiatives that are expected to drive the top line and bottom line next year. Then prioritize the key marketing support needed for the coming year,” she says.

Analyze performance

“Second, review all performance analytics, KPIs, and other important metrics to understand which programs, content, and campaigns met or exceeded goals to understand what is working best and why.”

Look at each expense area individually to determine where efficiencies can be achieved. 

“Review the performance of any agency resources to determine if you’re getting all of the value-added creativity, support, and service that you expect,” she says. “I’d also freeze all hiring, and review staff performance and skill sets to ensure that our best talent is fully leveraged – and our underperforming staff have a clear understanding of the level of performance that is needed and expected.”

“With the review process completed, you will have the best information available to guide your ability to identify where and how best to make budget reductions. This might include realigning or reducing staff and making other cuts.”

Your organization is counting on you to make shrewd decisions, and this data will ensure you’re making the best possible choices.

2. Make the tough decisions to reduce non-essential spending.

Another CMO led marketing for a popular direct-to-consumer apparel brand. “As a DTC company, my first priority would be to protect the budget that touches consumers,” he says. “Then, I typically look to my vendors to help us find efficiencies.”

Reduce vendor spending

For vendors who are replaceable or not otherwise integral to marketing operations, this CMO demands at least a 20% reduction in their fee structure. Same for any vendors whose products or services are underperforming, or don’t align with the key initiatives identified earlier.

A CMO for a retail automotive services chain also suggests cutting vendor fees and non-essential services. 

“Over time, marketing budgets can get bloated as we add services and analyses (e.g., competitive pricing studies, media allocation modeling, and creative testing),” he says. “It pays to regularly take a hard look at the value they add, but especially when facing recessionary pressures. If a program, tool, or analysis helps you make better decisions, deliver better-quality creative, or is a proven ROI builder, keep it. If there’s any question about its value contribution, cut it.” 

Our retail automotive services CMO also advises looking for ways to bring your most essential services and products in-house, especially if the result allows you to build something even more valuable and customized than any vendor could provide:

“Several years ago, we cut $1 million in fees by taking our CRM program in-house. We achieved the requested budget reduction, but more importantly, generated a much stronger result by focusing on the best elements of our former program.”

The reality is, not every vendor is essential, and some may need to tighten their belts, too, if they wish to keep you as a customer. This is where vendors who are true strategic partners – or aspire to be – can demonstrate their value.

Reduce nonessential travel and conferences

Our former DTC apparel brand CMO also recommends cutting nonessential travel and events. “One of the first things I do is eliminate unproductive trade shows and industry conferences. If its ROI is questionable, it has to go,” he says.

The CMO of a top-ranked business school agrees with finding ways to cut travel, “soft costs,” and other nonessential expenses – as long as these aren’t at the expense of her team’s continued education. “I try to avoid cutting any personal development expenses because, just like our students, we use downturns as precious time to invest in one’s skills, which ultimately increases their value to the organization,” she says.

Don’t reduce ad spend if you can help it

Our business-school CMO also feels strongly about not reducing media spend unless absolutely necessary. “If I were asked to cut my budget, as has certainly happened before, I would cut media and advertising as a last resort ONLY. We should be following the revenue, after all, and, if we’re doing our job, we are proving our ad dollars’ value via a defensible ROI,” she says.

“Marketing and advertising should be driving revenue and not be considered cost centers,” she continues. “This mindset always kills me! We move the needle and fill the funnel. Accordingly, we keep a tight handle on measurement. What you measure counts. And if it’s demonstrably impacting revenue, it’s the last thing an organization should cut. At all costs.”

Our retail automotive services CMO agrees, and looks for ways to rebalance media spend rather than cut overall. “In my business, traffic is paramount,” he says. “Consequently, I would cut back on top-of-funnel programs to help achieve the needed reductions while ensuring bottom-of-funnel, traffic-driving programs are properly funded.”

The key is having the data to back up these decisions.

“We track Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) religiously and put hard thresholds in place beneath which we won’t invest,” he says. “I would target media that are at or barely above the threshold for reductions or elimination altogether. We do this pruning regularly and use the recovered budget to fund new media channels that test successfully.”

Testing is critical when consumer behaviors and purchasing habits are in flux. “Pausing these media tests is the last resort for reductions because you always want to have a pipeline of new successful media channels to drive future business,” he says.

Any CMO knows that maintaining awareness with your customer base is critical, even (perhaps especially) when revenue is expected to slow. But nowhere is this more evident than in the direct-to-consumer model. 

“Any marketing expense that touches consumers and shapes their experience of the brand should be protected,” our former DTC apparel CMO says. “Plus, that mindshare will be nearly impossible to claw back from your competitors when you start advertising again.”

Realign your headcount.

Staff reductions are usually one of the last places any department leader wants to turn when faced with financial hardships. Sometimes they’re unavoidable – but as we’ve seen in the last few years, they can be difficult to come back from. When the market normalizes, you won’t necessarily be able to staff up adequately to meet rising demand (and rising salaries). That cautionary tale is still unfolding; from supply chain issues to labor shortages, we need only look around us to see the effects of this in action.

But if budget cuts do require a change in staff, there are different ways to approach this, and philosophies differ. Our business-school CMO prefers to first review and potentially end the contracts of any freelancers not fully utilized. She then looks for ways to better leverage her full-time employees or help them improve performance if needed.

If required, our DTC apparel CMO would eliminate any full-time roles that are “nice to have” but whose primary duties can be carried out by existing staff. Then, he’d use contract talent to help cover any remaining personnel needs. “Many skilled marketers prefer to freelance now anyway, so that flexibility no longer comes at the expense of talent, experience, or high performance,” he says.

Don’t be afraid to explore on-demand options, too, such as creating a stable of freelance talent with different areas of expertise. These contractors can be trained in your brand messaging and creative standards so they’re ready to jump in as required. These unique staffing models are often very cost-effective while delivering high-quality marketing solutions and results.

And if a staffing cut seems unavoidable, consider payrolling. This solution allows companies to keep their current staff members while a provider like Freeman+Leonard manages their payroll and benefits. As a result, your team’s salaries are shifted from the marketing budget to another cost center while avoiding staff reductions.

The bottom line? There are more choices available to employers than ever before. No matter which approach you take, think carefully about how each current team member contributes to the team and which roles or skills your organization needs to succeed. Whether you choose to supplement with specialized contractors or upskill your existing team (or both), keep your eye on the long-term future, not just the conditions you face today.

3. Repurpose and reuse existing assets.

Being resourceful with your existing assets is the final piece of advice from our cosmetics brand CMO. 

“I would then ask my team to determine how we might best reuse, refresh, or repurpose proven content to decrease production costs and agency fees,” she says.

After all, why not benefit from all the great work you and your partners have already done? What has already been produced that generates results and is still relevant – and how can you breathe new life into it for this next chapter?

Rebalancing is key.

If you, too, are tasked with trimming your marketing budget, we hope the guidance of these CMOs provides a framework for those tough decisions. With data guiding you, it becomes easier to protect your highest-ROI marketing costs, and rebalance or redistribute your budget where needed most – positioning you for maximum growth and profitability when the market shifts (or even before!).

Whether shifting media weight from upper- to lower-funnel tactics, or creating more flexibility on your team, sometimes it’s not so much about how much you’re spending but whether you’re spending it on the right things, to the right degree.

At Freeman+Leonard, we partner with marketing leaders like you every day. With decades of experience, we’ve navigated our share of choppy economic waters, and helped hundreds of clients do the same. From helping you reduce overhead and leverage the right mix of permanent and freelance staff, to ensuring you’re paying for performance, our consultants will guide you every step of the way. It’s our privilege to play a role in your success in any market conditions. We’re not just a staffing company – we’re strategic partners and consultants to our clients.

Use the contact form below to reach out and start a conversation. It costs nothing to explore your options.

Get in touch with a Freeman+Leonard consultant today:

5 steps to a stellar LinkedIn profile summary

5 steps to a stellar LinkedIn profile summary

As the hot job market continues to burn bright, many strong candidates are still being overlooked and wondering why. Could high-profile layoffs and economic uncertainty be to blame for a hiring slowdown? According to economists and what we’re seeing first-hand every day in the trenches — no way! It’s still a job seeker’s market.  

So, what gives?

The game has changed, and it keeps changing. If you’re on the job market for the first time in years, you may have noticed some things have changed, but one hasn’t: You must always be willing to adapt. 

One of the biggest game-changers? LinkedIn reigns supreme. For snagging professional opportunities, it’s the place to be, more so than job boards or anywhere else online. 

If your LinkedIn profile feels like a time capsule of your former professional life, you’re short-changing yourself. Full stop. It’s time to dust off the cobwebs and polish your profile — especially the “About” section, a.k.a. your profile summary or bio.

But if you’re worried about adding another task to your job hunt to-do list, we have good news: 

The cover letter is officially dead. 

Our clients rarely ask for cover letters, and if you suspect the countless letters you’ve written during a job search have gone unread — you’re probably right. 

“I never read cover letters. Too many resumes to review,” Ashley Allen, Senior Manager, Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard confesses. “Recruiters and hiring managers are short on time, so we tend to dive straight into whatever’s going to give us the best picture of the candidate’s potential fit for the role.” 

Every recruiter on our team agrees. So let’s put this to rest — unless an employer specifically asks for a cover letter, you can skip it! 

What’s taken its place? You guessed it: a killer LinkedIn profile summary. 

As cumbersome as the now-defunct cover letter was, it served its purpose — to explain why you want the job, illustrate why your background suits you for the role, fill in any gaps from your resume, and exhibit your writing skills. 

LinkedIn is now where you do that — and it’s far more efficient and effective.

After all, you only need to write your profile summary once and you’re done. Sure, you’ll tweak and update it along the way, but you won’t have to start from near-scratch and go through the motions of flattery and formality every time you apply for a job. 

The beauty of a LinkedIn profile summary is that it serves as a single "source of truth" about your professional history, which helps employers understand who you are and what you contribute — way better than a resume and cover letter. 

In today’s job market, LinkedIn is the one place recruiters go to get the best picture of a candidate and where employers turn to find out more about you. Out with the old and in with the new.

Here’s what you can do to get your profile summary up to speed. 

1. Catch their attention with a hook, and keep it with a story.

As a marketer, no matter the role, you’re expected to know what it takes to stand out in today’s competitive job market. Perhaps that seems a little unfair, as everyone knows that it’s much more awkward to market yourself than it is to market a company’s products or services. But the reality is, LinkedIn is prime real estate for demonstrating your personal branding chops and social media savvy, and the bar is higher for those in this industry. 

Use an eye-catching hook that stops their scroll and piques their interest. 

Put some effort into making your first sentence a statement or question that makes recruiters want to keep reading — something unexpected, intriguing, or provocative. 

Tell a story that connects the dots. 

The key is to frame your background so that seemingly unrelated roles and deviations from a linear path are viewed as the best possible preparation for where you are now and where you want to go.  

Make your profile summary as distinctive and captivating as possible. 

  • What makes you different? 
  • What motivated your career pivot?
  • What is the overarching theme of your career?

And you don’t have to stick with words. Whenever possible, show, don’t tell. Add rich media such as infographics, videos, or images to provide a clear picture of who you are as a candidate.

2. Work the algorithm. 

“You appeared in 3 searches this week.” 

If you've received an email like this from LinkedIn or you’ve checked out your profile’s analytics only to find an equally dismal number of search appearances, it can make you feel dejected — as if nobody’s looking for someone like you and you’ll never find a new job. 

More than likely, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Chances are, recruiters are scouring the platform, eyes peeled for someone with your background and skills. 

But if you haven’t optimized your profile, you won’t show up in search. 

It’s as simple as that. 

What words are recruiters using to search for candidates for your target role? Put those in both your profile summary and your LinkedIn headline.

For example, when we’re looking to fill a Creative Director opening, and the client is looking for a candidate with working knowledge of prototyping tools, we might search for specific software keywords, such as Figma, InVision, and Zeplin. 

Remember, this is about getting the role you want, not the one you have. If you have the chops to be a Creative Director but haven’t held the title yet, make that clear — starting with your headline! You can and should dub yourself a Creative Director (or whatever your next-step dream job is) before any employer does. This is no time to play it too safe or let imposter syndrome get the best of you. Use words relevant to your actual experience and the job you’re after — yes, the specific phrases you see used in ads for Creative Directors. 

No magic tricks necessary. To optimize it for search, you simply need to include keywords in the text — with one big caveat: Write for humans, not robots. 

Your priority should be to ensure that your profile summary is well-written and engaging, not keyword-stuffed. 

In other words, no 2008-era SEO black-hat tricks (for example, "An SEO expert walks into a bar, bars, pub, public house, Irish pub, drinks, beer, wine, liquor, Grey Goose, Cristal..."). If using all the right keywords makes your writing clunky, add a list at the end (for example, "Specialties: keyword, keyword, keyword, etc.").

3. Put your personality on full display. 

Remember, people hire people.

“Show some personality,” says Andrea Tipton, EVP, Marketing and Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “I want to see a sneak peek into your work style and personal approach to what you do. Think of it as your elevator pitch — you’re on the 10th floor and you need to let the recruiter know who you are professionally and personally before you reach the lobby.”

  • What lights you up about your work?
  • Why did you choose your career?
  • What do you value most? What makes you tick?
  • What are you best known for at work or among your friends?

Although we’re looking for the right match on qualifications and skills first, we also want to know a bit about what you like to do outside of the office. Sharing a few words about your hobbies and interests can go a long way toward making a connection — your fellow yogis, true-crime podcast junkies, or world travelers will take interest.

The best way to show off your personality is to write like you speak. 

Most important, ditch the jargon, academic formality, and buzz words, and write as if you’re talking to a friendly colleague — in first person. What not to do: “Highly motivated, strategic thinker with a proven track record of delivering results.” Yeah, aren’t we all? Tell me something I don’t know!

4. Show them you’re the G.O.A.T. 

Crafting a compelling LinkedIn profile forces you to become clear about your career goals, be honest about your background, and present the strongest version of what you bring to the table. 

If there’s ever a place to rock your main character energy, it’s in your LinkedIn profile summary. 

You don’t get a gold star for being modest, making light of your achievements, or downplaying your goals. 

Obviously, you don’t want to lie or stretch the truth if you’re not actually the greatest of all time, but you’ll want to take it further than a mere humble brag. Maybe you were the top performer on your team or you won an industry award or you blew past your KPIs. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. 

  • What obstacles have you overcome?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What big lessons have you learned, and how? 

The idea here is not to come across as arrogant, but to confidently assert your competence and credibility. Use metrics and specific examples if you want to make a strong impression.

5. Add a call to action.

Again, you’re a marketer. You should know all about calls to action. What do you want your summary to accomplish? What do you want the reader to do next? Don’t leave it up to chance; spell it out.

They might not take that next step, but by including a CTA you’ve demonstrated that you’re thinking ahead and you have a purpose in mind . 

Encourage readers to view your portfolio or website, and add your URL. Prompt them to book a meeting or coffee chat, and add a link to your calendar scheduling tool. 

Even if you’re not actively on the market, state the kinds of opportunities you’re seeking. Are you open to speaking, side projects, writing guest blog posts, media interviews, volunteering, or mentoring? Say so. Are you looking to grow your network in a certain industry? Mention it. 

All of this — but keep it short!

This might seem like a lot to include in 2,000 characters or less, but you can cover a lot of ground while keeping it short and sweet. Attention spans are fleeting and space is limited, so be concise, make your points, and skip to the good part. 

As with all writing for the web and digital platforms, make sure your profile summary is skimmable and easy to read. Use short paragraphs (1-3 sentences each) with plenty of white space, headings, and bullet points. 

Hint: LinkedIn doesn’t allow rich text formatting with actual bullet points, but you can always copy and paste this bullet character: •

Not sure if your LinkedIn profile summary measures up? 

Run it past your recruiter. We look at LinkedIn all day and know exactly what it takes to stand out and get noticed. Remember, there’s never any fee for our services. Connect with us on LinkedIn and submit your resume at


Remote managers: Here’s how to bond with your new hires

Remote managers: Here’s how to bond with your new hires

As a hiring manager in today’s tight job market, you know that top candidates have options. The last thing you want is to see your new hire walk back out of a revolving door – so retention’s the name of the game. Your job as a manager is to ensure they confidently settle into the new culture and set the foundation for a lasting relationship. That can be particularly challenging in a remote environment.

Here’s how to bridge the virtual gap to build a solid relationship with your new hires, beginning on day one.

1. Get the ball rolling on building rapport.

New hires are anxious to get to know you and make a strong impression, so be just as eager to do the same. Within the first few days, schedule a one-on-one, informal virtual coffee or lunch, and make it a regular, recurring meeting on your calendar. Give them an early opportunity to connect with you personally and professionally. This should be treated as a non-negotiable commitment on your end and canceled only in case of an unavoidable conflict.

You remember what it was like to be the new kid on the block, so be the one to extend a lifeline. Help them socialize and get to know the team by assigning an onboarding buddy and create opportunities whenever possible for them to form friendly, collegial relationships with colleagues.

2. Make analog connections IRL and offline.

If your new remote hire is local, plan to meet up for coffee, lunch or dinner. If you have a local office, schedule occasional meetings in-house. If not. and budgets and circumstances permit, fly them into headquarters for meetings every so often or plan to meet at an industry conference or training within the first few months.

Even if you’re not likely to meet IRL any time soon, you can still create a greater sense of connection with the company. To build team spirit, our clients often ship a first-day welcome drop in the form of a gift bag full of branded swag. Popular items include a company T-shirt, water bottle, mug, a goodie bag full of snacks, and desk accessories. If it comes directly from you and you check up on it, that’ll make a difference in how much they value it.

3. Become their biggest advocate.

Consider it your personal goal to champion your new hire’s smooth start. Even if the company already has an established virtual onboarding process, don’t be hands-off and expect human resources or training and development to handle everything.

Make sure your new hire has the right tools, resources, and access to the required systems and knowledge needed to get the job done. Tune in to what they’re learning about the company and the role and be prepared to fill in the blanks. Things slip through the cracks and you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring they receive the support they need from day one.

4. Be an open book.

No matter how many times a new hire has read the job description, there are always aspects of the job they can't fully understand until they’re in the role. And they’re drinking from a fire hose the first few weeks, so don’t expect them to know or remember everything. Let them know what’s most important, what they should look out for, and who they need to know.

As you open up to your new direct report, try to put aside any worries you may have about them potentially not working out long-term. You’ll be more likely to set them up for success by being as transparent, candid, and generous with information as you realistically can be, as early as possible. As their manager, the best way to show goodwill and establish trust is to become their best go-to source for reliable information from the start.

5. Bring them into the mix.

Invite new remote hires into key conversations, collaborations and decisions, even before they are fully integrated into their role. Encourage them to speak up while still learning how things are done around the company. Let them know their buy-in is important, and explicitly state that their contributions and outside perspective are welcome. They’ll appreciate this, coming from you.

This also applies to team updates and wins; even if the work happened before they started, include them in the “we” that accomplished a goal. The sooner they feel connected to the team goals, the better.

6. Show some grace.

Everyone needs sufficient time to ramp up. Allow room for learning and mistakes. Your job isn’t to micromanage, find fault or be overly critical, but to be a coach and encourage growth. If your new hire is off to a rocky start, what can you do to make their job easier?

If they don’t seem to be fitting in or catching on, maybe they need a little more help acclimating. People aren’t perfect, but they can become great. Don’t lose a good employee over an oversight, miscommunication or lack of support on your end.

7. Offer generous feedback.

Don’t leave your new hire in the dark about how things are going from your perspective.

If they aren’t making progress, get to the bottom of what’s happening and determine what you can do to pave a path for improvement. If things are going well, talk about growth, advancement and opportunities within the organization as early as possible. You want them to feel as if there is a future for them at the company and begin seeing themselves as part of that future.

Welcome new hires home.

Managers play a key role in any new hire’s experience – perhaps the most important role. Be the reason they feel at home in the new position and equipped to put forth their best effort. A strong relationship with a supportive manager can make all the difference in reducing turnover down the road.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your F+L talent expert with questions about the onboarding process. We have insight into the candidate and can help advise you on the best way to ensure a strong ramp-up period. Our role doesn’t end when the candidate is placed!

New remote job? Here’s how to avoid an awkward start

New remote job? Here’s how to avoid an awkward start

If you set your sights on a fully remote role and were fortunate enough to land one, the last thing you want to do is complain. But let’s face it; starting a new remote job is awkward.

We’re here for all the WFH hype: the convenience, the PJs, the money saved (y’all, gas is bananas!) But even remote work enthusiasts have to admit that it does come with downsides, especially when you’re the new kid on Slack. 

And few want to say it out loud for fear that the slightest grumble could send us back to our cubicles, actual pants and all — like Elon demands. 

But if you’re finding your new virtual environment challenging, you’re not alone and your concerns are valid. Having never met your boss or coworkers IRL can be disorienting, and building key relationships can be difficult if you start off on the wrong foot or take too long to break the ice. The best way through is to meet this thing head-on.

“Frankly, your best bet is to embrace the awkward and move past it,” says Andrea Tipton, EVP, Marketing & Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “Later, you’ll be able to laugh about what may have felt like a fiasco at the time.”

Ready to move past the awkward? Here’s our advice:

1. Getting the cold shoulder? Don’t take it personally.

No matter how welcoming a workplace strives to be, the reality is we’re all outsiders until we’re not. You haven’t proven yourself yet. Your coworkers don’t know what to expect from you, and you don’t know what to expect from them. In fact, you don’t know much about each other at all, and that can be awkward. Niceties aside, new relationships are tenuous at best. 

This isn’t meant to make you feel bad; quite the contrary! Remember, everyone’s human, and most people are doing the best they can with the bandwidth available. Besides, people are busy doing their own jobs, and even the friendliest folks can be overwhelmed by change. 

If you feel like you’re getting the cold shoulder, chances are it’s not intentional, so try to shrug it off. 

Be patient, but also be as proactive and as assertive as necessary. You don’t have to find instant besties, but you do need to forge new connections that will enable you to do your job well. Soon enough, with some concerted effort, you’ll make friends and develop a close network of people you can count on.

So, if no one else is doing it, break the ice! Check in with your manager on the best way to handle it, but don’t be shy about making the first move — introduce yourself over email, invite coworkers to virtual coffee or lunch and participate in virtual watercooler sessions. Be proactive about letting people know you’re excited to be there, open to conversation and eager to fit into the mix.

2. Show up as the solution to their woes.

Do you sense an unexpected undercurrent of negative energy? There may be a backstory you’re not privy to yet, but don’t let it distract you from your mission — showing them that they made the right hiring decision. 

In a perfect world, during the interview process you’d get an in-depth explanation of why your role was being filled. But sometimes it’s inappropriate to share the details, especially if it’s a sensitive subject. And your new company probably wants to put its best face forward by focusing on the positives and avoiding the negatives — as you did. 

Eventually, the full story will emerge, and it may explain a lot about the vibe — but in a virtual space, that’s likely to take a while longer. 

You won’t overhear whispers in the breakroom or have a Chatty Cathy pull you aside in the hallway to give you the scoop. Maybe your predecessor was a problem employee who left behind a path of destruction, or maybe it was someone everyone loved and hated to see go. Perhaps jobs were slashed during the pandemic and people resent that their friends are being replaced. It’s possible the role has been a beast to fill or retain, and some don’t expect you to cut it. 

Or maybe there’s just weirdness going on at the company — bickering between departments, executive drama, you name it. 

The bottom line is, none of it really matters anyway. It’s helpful information to know, but you’re there now and it’s up to you to make the most of the situation. Think of it as an opportunity to shine and demonstrate that you’re there to be part of the solution.

3. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

When starting a new job it’s perfectly normal to be anxious about making a good impression  – but in a physical office, it’s a lot easier to charm your new coworkers. You can show up early every day, dressed to impress, walk around greeting everyone with a big smile, and bring your coworkers their favorite Starbucks drink. This personal touch can be more difficult to achieve in a WFH situation, but it doesn’t change the game completely.

We understand that you’re eager to hit the ground running and find your place on the team, but despite your best effort it can take time. Remember, your new employer wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t think you could handle the remote environment and fit in with the team. 

So go easy on yourself, and try to be patient. 

There’s no reason to be shy or second-guess yourself now. Is it possible you’ll make a mistake or faux pas? Of course! Nobody’s perfect, and a good manager doesn’t expect it. Don’t let fear of failure or social discomfort stop you from your best effort.

4. Be a sponge: Soak up all the knowledge you can, as early as you can.

Aside from getting to know people, you also need to learn a whole new set of rules, expectations and even language. The trick is to be observant, inquisitive and flexible. Every company is different, even within the same industry. And though several rounds of interviews convinced them that you’re a culture fit, nobody’s actually a perfect fit on day one. This is why we suggest getting into learning mode early. 

It will take some time to learn the dos and don’ts, lingo and nuances — especially when you’re not able to make key observations in person.

If you’ve ever traveled outside the country, you know the feeling. You get off the plane, barely able to speak the language, and (if you’re a conscientious tourist), you’re anxious that a cultural blunder may offend someone. But it’s also exciting and most locals are happy to help.

This is like that. Your coworkers are probably so accustomed to the way things are that they won’t even realize what you don’t know — but they’ll be happy to help if you ask.

Did an acronym or jargon go over your head? Don’t be embarrassed to ping someone on Slack. Are you surprised to learn X department doesn’t handle Y? Ask around until you figure out who does. Does everyone go quiet on Friday afternoons? Don’t schedule a meeting after noon on Fridays. Are email communications more formal or informal than you’re accustomed to? Adapt to signing off with “regards” or “cheers” and keep it moving. 

5. Focus on what you were hired to do.

Sometimes new remote hires simply let their nerves get the best of them. When you’re hyper-focused on hoping people like you, you can lose sight of what matters most — doing a great job!

Maybe you have social anxiety or tend to feel like you don’t fit in anywhere. Many skilled professionals are drawn to remote work for this reason — only to find that the distance doesn’t preclude awkwardness altogether. You still need to connect, person-to-person. The good news is, in remote spaces you have more control over when and how you communicate; lean into that.  

Maybe you’re an extrovert — a total people person — working remotely for convenience, for flexibility or because you decided to roll with the best opportunity and it just happened to be virtual. You can still find ways to let your charisma shine; it’ll take some adjusting, but you’ll get there. Focus more on how your big personality helps you do your job and less on being the life of the party. 

In all the awkwardness of adapting to your new virtual environment, don’t forget that your job performance doesn’t depend entirely on your likability or popularity. 

The best-known antidote for new hire awkwardness is to ramp up quickly so you can begin pulling your weight, making valuable contributions and hitting your goals. Show up every day and give it your best, speak up to offer fresh ideas and keep your boss updated on your progress

As your confidence builds and the team’s confidence in you grows, your trepidation is sure to ease.

Congratulations on your new job!

Seriously, hooray! Hats off to you. Landing a new remote job isn’t easy and you’re past the toughest part. The awkwardness is par for the course; nobody else is as concerned about it as you are. This isn’t middle school. Give it some time and before you know it you’ll be showing the next new kid the ropes.   

If anyone’s familiar with the new-hire awkward phase, it’s your recruiter. We hear about it all the time. If you’re concerned that your jitters are affecting your onboarding, we’re happy to talk through your concerns and offer insight based on our experience with the employer. Don’t hesitate to give us a shout. 

New remote job? Here’s how to set yourself up for success from day one

New remote job? Here’s how to set yourself up for success from day one

No matter how much you might love working from home, starting a new remote job isn’t always a walk in the park. 

It can be difficult to get to know your coworkers when you haven’t met face to face. For seasoned professionals accustomed to real face time (not to be confused with FaceTime), adjusting to a new set of expectations in a whole new way can be unsettling. 

And for younger hires, missing out on opportunities to socialize while learning and becoming acclimated to professional life can be frustrating. 

“When you’re new, your job is to be a sponge,” says Andrea Tipton, EVP, Marketing and Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “It’s hard to do that through a computer screen; it’s possible, but it takes planning.”

Our advice? Approach your remote onboarding as an experience that you play an equal role in shaping. Don’t be a passive participant. Be part of the process and the solution, and help onboard yourself. You’ll learn faster that way, and be included in more conversations earlier on.

To kickstart success in your new remote job, take charge of your own onboarding experience.

We get it: It can definitely be daunting to start a new remote job, even if your manager provides lots of structure and guidance in the onboarding process. However, companies embracing work-from-home usually expect everyone to be high-performing, accountable and self-directed. There’s no better way to show that you’re all of those things than to create the structure you seek.

“Think of your onboarding period as an opportunity to demonstrate to your new boss that you’re truly a self-starter who doesn’t wait around for assignments, and that you have strong ideas to contribute,” says Rachel Runnels, VP, Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “This is also a chance to show your new coworkers that you’re a proactive, friendly and capable colleague.”

Here are a few tips to make the most of precious ramp-up time in your new remote job:

1. Get into learning mode early. 

There’s no need to wait until your first day to satisfy your curiosity about your new job, or to start setting yourself up for success. Much of what you need to know may already be available to you; use what you find to get ahead of the curve and navigate your early days with confidence. 

Ashley Edmonds, who joined the fully remote Freeman+Leonard team as Client Services Support Specialist last year, says her research skills contributed to her early success in the role. “If you want to get a head start, do your research,” Edmonds says. “Start learning about your new company, your role, who you’re going to be working with, the terminology you’ve heard so far.”

And if you’re already aware you may have an underdeveloped skill that will be important in your new role, don’t wait to strengthen it. “Expand your knowledge, whether that be through technical skills or industry knowledge,” Edmonds says. “Don’t expect to be trained on every aspect of your role, and if there isn’t a specific way to do something, Google it. Use the resources available to you, and study them well.”

2. Create your own onboarding plan.

While we advise employers to map out their new hire’s entire first week, they may not have had the bandwidth or time to do this. In a perfect world, everything would go according to plan, but you may need to take matters into your own hands to avoid lingering awkwardly on the backburner. 

Your new boss will likely set up at least a meeting or two on your first day to help you settle in. During your first few conversations with your manager and other team members, compile a list of every key player on your team and in your organization. If there’s no org chart, create your own in your notes to refer to later. Ask who you should be meeting with, and be proactive in scheduling those meetings rather than waiting for others to make the first move.

If this is intimidating, challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. The sooner you get to know people and settle into the mix, the sooner you can put the new-hire jitters behind you and begin contributing to the team with a can-do attitude.

3. Stay camera-ready.

In the beginning, you’ll want to take as many virtual meetings as you can with your camera on — even if that’s not typical of the culture at your new company. It’s the next-best thing to sitting down across the desk from someone, so make the most of every opportunity to lessen the distance between you and your new coworkers to make a stronger connection.  

Camera-on Zooms can kill creativity, so they’re not so great for brainstorms. But when the goal is to get to know people, you’ll do that much faster if you can see them (and they can see you)!

Be sure to take a few tips from our article on how to nail your virtual interview, like art-directing your background and practicing good on-camera body language.

4. Meet up IRL if possible.

There’s no substitute for meeting your hiring manager and team members in person, especially early on. If your position is remote but your company has physical offices nearby, ask whether your onboarding can take place in person.

Last year, Brittani Harrison-Kroog kicked off her new remote job as Recruiting & Talent Sourcer at Freeman+Leonard with an in-person day at the company’s coworking space. “It was great meeting HR, IT and my manager in person, followed by a team lunch. That was a very personable first day,” she says. “Starting in December also meant I got to have social time with everyone for the holidays, which was so nice.”

If you live in the same area as your boss or at least a handful of your team members, ask around to see when the next team outing is, and suggest one if one’s not already booked. Even an unofficial team lunch or happy hour with a few colleagues at a time will help you get to know your coworkers on a personal level.

5. Show some gumption.

Now isn’t the time to be timid. Taking the initiative to build rapport and solidify relationships early on will set you apart from the start.

If your new boss doesn’t suggest a regular weekly chat with just the two of you, proactively set up a recurring meeting. Then, take charge of these meetings, planning what you’ll discuss before each, and leading the conversation. 

Having a set, consistent time with your manager to ask questions and discuss your progress is key to your success — both now and in the future.

Recent research by Harvard Business School professors shows that regular Zoom calls between managers and new hires can boost job performance by 7-10%, and boost job satisfaction by 3-5%. It also gives workers more opportunities to advance.

In addition to 1:1s with your boss, consistent informal chats or “virtual watercooler sessions” with no particular agenda can also be a win-win for the entire team. Sometimes these are scheduled, and sometimes they take place before or after regular team meetings. Look for opportunities like these to chat informally with your colleagues, and contribute regularly to the conversations.

6. Take lots of notes and stay organized.

The first few weeks at any new job can be overwhelming. You’re absorbing a boatload of information tossed at you from a million places while navigating an entirely new organization, with its own culture, protocols and processes. But the last thing you want is to come across as scattered or make your team feel as if you’re not paying attention. Making sense of it all will be much easier if you get organized, and start early.

Develop a note-taking and organizing system that makes it easy to file away and recall information quickly when needed.

Author, podcaster and consultant Jenny Blake calls this concept an “externalized mind.” Though Blake’s advice is geared toward business owners, it applies just as equally to employees in remote work environments, who must also think and act like entrepreneurs. The more you document everything you’re learning, the faster you’ll ramp up and become an active contributor on the team. Down the line, it may even help you delegate some of your more routine tasks to junior team members!

Ask the people training you whether you can record the conversation. Then, see if you can get those recordings transcribed (by the way, automated transcriptions are cheaper and faster than ever). By working from transcripts, you can create detailed notes and not have to rely on the speed of your typing or handwriting.

Then, make a habit of routinely updating, categorizing and filing away your notes in an easily searchable system, like Evernote, Notion, Google Docs or a tool your employer provides.

7. Break the ice — someone’s gotta do it!

Oh, the joys of being new! If your inbox is a bit quiet at first, don’t take it personally. No matter how awkward you may feel, your team members are most likely just going about their days. They may also just be waiting for you to reach out once you’re ready, and to reveal more about yourself at your own pace. Waiting for the “perfect” moment may make them think you’re quiet or withdrawn. So don’t wait for someone else to break the ice — do it yourself.

Look for moments to share relevant details that help your team members get to know you — both professionally and personally. 

Virtual watercooler sessions are great for this. You can also hit “reply” on any written welcome notes over email, Slack or Teams to share a bit about your background, why you’re excited to join the team and a few “fun facts” from your life.

Not sure how to go about this the right way? Ask your hiring manager or a peer for advice on how to best introduce yourself to the team or get to know people. This may even prompt them to get the ball rolling for you; either way, you’re being proactive, rather than passive, and that’s already a win.

8. Don’t be shy; speak up!

It’s totally normal to feel awkward about speaking up in meetings when you’re the new person. After all, you’re still learning and observing.

But your fresh perspective is an asset to your company, and your team wants to hear what you think. So don’t be shy! 

You don’t have to have a fully formed opinion about everything. Start by telling others what you’ve noticed, and frame these observations as questions, hypotheses and hunches.

“Most people ask questions. But it’s even more important to share hunches,” says Wes Kao, cofounder of AltMBA and online learning platform Maven. “Even if you’re wrong, it opens up conversation and learning moments.”

Sharing your thoughts can certainly be good for building a rapport with your team and positioning yourself as observant and insightful — but it also can boost your own confidence and help you feel more successful in the role.

9. Let them know what you’re up to.

When your boss isn’t around the corner, they can’t always easily see what you’re working on and sometimes might make the wrong assumptions when you’re too quiet. Communication becomes even more important to staying on the same page with your boss and team. Whether this is your first remote job or your fifth, it’s smart to set a tone from the beginning by routinely sending out status updates.

Freeman+Leonard’s Edmonds says, “I send my team what I like to call a Weekly Action Plan: what I’m currently working on and where I am with everything, what I plan to work on the following week, and any updates from the last week. That way my team and my manager know where I’m at with projects, so they aren’t always checking up.”

Not only does communicating these updates proactively build a good relationship with your boss, it can also help you feel more in control of your assignments and how your work product is perceived.

If you’re still a bit unsure of your place in your new company, give it time. 

“In six weeks or so, most of your anxiety will fade,” says Art Markman, Ph.D., in his article for Harvard Business Review, “Why Starting a New Remote Job Feels So Awkward.”

“You will develop new habits, you’ll discover you understand at least half of the new jargon that gets thrown at you, and you’ll have a couple of people who can guide you through the social scene.”

Your recruiter is happy to be a sounding board, too. 

Your recruiter wants you to be successful in the role. If your onboarding experience isn’t going as you’d planned, they’re always available to offer advice or insights about the company or role — so don’t hesitate to reach out.

How to refresh your resume for 2022

How to refresh your resume for 2022

The job market is hot, and there’s no denying that skilled marketers are in high demand. Employers are hard-pressed to fill critical roles, so the odds are on your side — probably more than at any other time in your career. We love to see candidates going after exciting opportunities with confidence, but first things first: Does your resume need a refresh? 

From what we’ve seen lately, some job seekers are getting ahead of themselves. 

“Just because employers are having a tough time filling openings doesn’t mean they’re going to waste their time considering candidates that aren’t a good fit,” says Andrea Tipton, EVP, Marketing and Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “In fact, they have less time than ever to look at resumes!”

The message is clear: Labor shortage or not, if you can’t be bothered to put forth a little effort when throwing your hat into the ring, employers won’t bother to respond to you.

And make no mistake — if you really want to be in the running for your next big opportunity, a strong resume is still how to get your foot in the door.

“A strong personal brand, a consistent presence on LinkedIn, even an impressive list of brands you’ve worked with – these are great things to have, but none of them can make up for a lackluster, generic resume,” advises Ashley Allen, Sr. Manager, Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard.

Your resume is what moves you from the big stack of eager hopefuls to a short list of interviewees that stand a solid chance. It’s how employers size you up against the competition. It’s worth the effort to revisit yours and ensure it positions you as the rock star you are.

Here’s how to update your resume so it’s ready to wow hiring managers in 2022:

Keep it brief (2 pages max).

With resumes, size matters. Your resume should be a brief but impactful overview of what you’ve accomplished in the past to demonstrate what you’re capable of achieving in the future.

But no matter how proud you are of the work you’ve put in over the years, avoid the temptation to turn your resume into an exhaustive list of everything you’ve done since kindergarten. Aim to make it just comprehensive enough to be compelling. Why?

1. It sparks curiosity.

As any skilled copywriter can tell you, brevity can actually work in your favor. Just as pithy copy moves buyers to action and snappy headlines get clicks, a well-crafted, concise resume can create the perception that there’s much more to the story.

Confident communicators, after all, avoid the urge to over-explain. They state the facts, but leave out unnecessary details. What’s left to the imagination often paints a much more compelling picture.

So rather than fret over how complete your resume feels, think of each bullet point as a conversation starter, for a dialogue to be picked up later in an interview.

2. It commands attention.

Our attention spans are shorter than ever, and hiring managers are no exception. As Jay Haines, founder of executive search firm Grace Blue, says:

“The days of having a six-page resume or CV are no longer relevant — even for experienced professionals or executives. Candidates have to think about the buying mindset of the person who’s looking at your resume. They don’t have the time or inclination to read your entire life’s story. Your resume shouldn’t be a long diatribe but a highlight reel of greatest hits.”

How short is short enough? 

As a rule of thumb, early-career professionals should keep it to one page. If you have 10 or more years of experience, keep it to two pages, max. You can always add details under the experience section of your LinkedIn profile.

Lead with your achievements and impact.

Keeping it short is not just an exercise in keeping with conventions – it forces you to keep it high-impact, too. 

“The truth is, nobody cares about all the responsibilities you’ve had in each job,” says Freeman+Leonard’s Tipton. “They want to know that you have the right background to step into the new role and are prepared to make a contribution from day one.” 

This is why your resume should focus on your accomplishments. Here’s how:

1. Plug in your metrics. 

To employers, numbers speak for themselves — the size of the organization, the number of people on teams you’ve led, the budget amounts you’ve managed, the growth rates you’ve influenced, and other ways you’ve moved the needle.

“Anyone can inflate their resume by using bolder words to describe their contributions,” Tipton says. “Employers know this, and are immune to it. They want to see hard numbers instead.” 

Cindy Davis, former EVP, Walmart, Disney, and L Brands, suggests incorporating a simple formula: Accomplishment = Action + Results (and lead with Results!)

Example: Increased revenues 15% in year one by better targeting key customer segments

2. Show them the ‘receipts.’ 

Hiring managers are looking for evidence that what you’ve achieved aligns with what they need. Are you able to take on the role’s responsibilities with competence and confidence? What can you show that proves that? 

As Haines says, “You're trying to find points of reference where you can demonstrate immediate cache and value. The employer typically wants someone who's got sector experience and who understands the rhythm, pace and nuances of the role.”

Remember, where you’ve made an impact matters. Is the hiring manager looking for big corporate in-house experience? Are they searching for someone with high-growth startup experience? An agency background? Name dropping can make a difference here. If you’ve worked with blue chip accounts or unicorns, be sure to feature those brands prominently in your resume.

Looking for resume templates? Harvard University’s Office of Career Services has several great resources to get you started.

Of course, not every potential employer will care about the same metrics, brands or experiences – so a generic, one-size-fits-all resume just won’t cut it.

“A tailored resume is really the price of entry now,” Freeman+Leonard’s Allen says. “If it doesn’t speak exactly to the job requirements, it won’t get a second look.”

Present yourself as a modern marketing leader.

Marketing is a fast-moving, ever-changing field. The best candidates recognize this, and they always strive to stay on top of trends. List your technical skills, show how you use them, and make clear that you’re familiar with hot topics, what’s going on in your industry, and major sea changes. 

Your resume should represent you as someone in the know.

Outdated resume faux pas can make you look sorely out of touch. A few red flags that are easy to fix? Having an AOL or Yahoo email account, or a LinkedIn URL that’s a jumble of characters. (You can change it to something memorable!) 

Not taking your LinkedIn profile seriously can also be a red flag to recruiters and hiring managers. “Your LinkedIn profile is often the first port of call,” Haines says. “Once contact is established, this can open the door to the resume stage. Your LinkedIn profile should reflect the same principles of brevity and pithiness as your resume.”

Modern marketing leaders of any rank are savvy. Fair or not, these cues basically “out you” as the opposite — or #cringe, as the TikTokers say. 

Managing your career like a pro means keeping abreast of what’s current and expected. Never miss an opportunity to demonstrate that. 

Sharpen your most powerful tool.

Marketing and creative professionals often have a sharp eye for detail, and can quickly identify gaps in a product’s message, or cut down an unpersuasive advertisement. 

“If you’re in this field, you’re likely accustomed to putting yourself in the customer or end user’s shoes,” Allen says. “So turn the tables and treat yourself like you’re the client.”

“Look at your resume with a critical eye and play devil’s advocate, as if you’re the most cynical hiring manager at the table,” Allen says. “What’s missing? Where are the gaps? How might you fall short? Are there red flags you can proactively address? 

Grace Blue’s Haines also recommends a perspective shift. “Pretend it’s someone else that you’re thinking about interviewing and give yourself a really honest critique.” 

Then ask this make-or-break question: “Is this resume going to get me in the room?” 

Davis recommends, “Once you have a draft, be sure to get input from colleagues, friends and mentors. Most marketers find it challenging when marketing themselves (remember the story of the cobbler’s children not having any shoes).”

Always be coachable and open to suggestions, especially from your recruiter. Make it a team effort and you’re more likely to win. 

Have other questions about updating your resume to perfectly position yourself for your dream job? Our recruiters would love to help. We're not just here to match you to the right job now — we're also career advisors, and there's never any fee for our services. Connect with us on LinkedIn and submit your resume at

How to compete for top marketing and creative talent in 2022

How to compete for top marketing and creative talent in 2022

At Freeman+Leonard, we’ve seen a sharp increase in demand for marketing and creative talent across a variety of disciplines. The increasingly competitive hiring landscape means employers must work a little harder to attract top candidates — and keep them onboard

So what are high-performing marketers and creatives looking for in an employer in 2022, and how can you stay competitive as you grow your team?

Here’s what we’re advising our clients:

Offer a more competitive salary, or be creative with compensation.

When presented with an opportunity, most candidates will first ask about the salary range for the role. Top candidates command higher pay, so offering a competitive salary, ideally above the national average, is often the most surefire way to attract top talent. Starting salaries vary widely for many reasons, including cost of living and scarcity of talent. As an employer, it’s important to be well-informed on the going rate for your city in order to compete for the best candidates. 

However, if you’re recruiting from other markets, don’t expect the cost-of-living increase or decrease to be simple math on base pay.

Similarly, higher-paid employees will not always be willing to take a pay reduction for another market.

The Dallas market, for example, offers starting salaries at 12% above the national average, according to our own database and placement history. Candidates in this market will expect pay that’s slightly higher than other major Texas cities such as Houston and Austin. 

In addition to market averages, you should also consult salary guides for specific job titles. Salaries can differ significantly based on years of experience, niche experience and industry. 

Statistics show that 55% of professionals require a higher salary in order to change jobs, but that’s certainly not all candidates look for when evaluating a career move — and that’s good news for smaller companies or agencies with tighter budgets.  

If you’re not able to offer a higher salary, look for other ways to make the compensation package more attractive.

First, be sure to detail the total compensation when making an offer, not just the base salary. Often, looking at total compensation reveals an offer that’s higher than a candidate originally thought. After compensation, paid time off is often the second-biggest draw for candidates. An extra few days or a week of paid vacation can often seal the deal, as can a signing bonus.

You might also want to consider adding performance-based incentives. Those in more senior roles might even be interested in earning ownership or equity. If this is on the table, use it!

If possible, offer additional insurance benefits or cover a higher percentage so the employee pays less out of pocket.

Beyond that, we’ve seen our smaller clients successfully win candidates by offering perks that make up for lower base pay. Consider perks that make a healthier lifestyle possible, going beyond healthcare to offering gym memberships, massages and even lunch one day a week for onsite workers (some offer it every day). This even includes incentives for carpooling or riding a bike to work, or free train passes for commuters.

Free product or reduced pricing at retailers or manufacturers can also offset a less competitive salary, as can annual credits for conferences, training or professional development.

Be prepared to sell candidates on the opportunity — and your company.

The job description is the candidate’s first impression of your company, so make it count! Highlight your financial stability and reputation right there in the job description. Especially in this pandemic, candidates are interested in how the company is faring. Use this valuable real estate to demonstrate that you’re not only stable but thriving. 

Candidates will do their research on a company before applying, so pay attention to your online presence including your website and social media channels. These channels should highlight stories about your team members, your diverse culture and career growth opportunities at your company.  

It’s also never been more important to talent that their employers’ values reflect their own, and that they can see themselves at your company.

Beyond stability and reputation, candidates want to see a welcoming, diverse and inclusive corporate culture. Make sure you’re not just communicating, but demonstrating, a top-down commitment to diversity and inclusion. Organizations that commit to having their workforce reflect the diversity of the world around us aren’t just more likely to attract a broader range of top talent; they’re also stronger and more prepared for the post-pandemic economy.

Get back to candidates quickly. Top talent won’t wait around.

Statistics show that 69% of applicants lose interest if they don’t hear back within two weeks of applying for an interview, and this tends to be more likely the more senior the candidate.

Not being responsive enough is one of the biggest reasons we see companies lose out on top marketing and creative talent. Fortunately, it’s easy to fix.

Clear communication throughout the interview process is key to sustaining a candidate’s interest. This includes responding to candidates in a timely manner, following up on next steps, and streamlining the process as much as possible. Prove to the candidate that you respect their time and talents by keeping the interview process streamlined and being as responsive as possible.

Avoid a reputation for turnover by being transparent with talent in the hiring process.

Turnover is costly, and it negatively impacts your reputation and the quality of your future hires. 

To avoid hiring the wrong talent and risking turnover, ensure everyone involved in evaluating talent is on the same page about your expectations for the role.

If recruiters and interviewers are clear on the job’s expectations and required skills and the growth opportunities at the company, honest and transparent conversations can happen immediately. 

Start by being as specific as possible when outlining the responsibilities for the position. Rather than using the same broad language as any other marketing job description, identify clear, niche skills that will help candidates know whether they’re a good fit — and help eliminate unqualified candidates from consideration. “Marketing manager,” for example, is a very broad job title and can mean different things to different people. 

Be specific also about the experience required for the job and the exact marketing experience needed — i.e., digital, mobile, shopper or otherwise.

After these volatile few years, candidates are concerned about the stability of a company. But it’s not just for reasons of job security; they also want long-term career growth. Use the interview process to understand candidates’ career goals and aspirations. If they can see themselves achieving these goals with your company, they’re more likely to stay with you long-term. 

Allow for flexibility and remote work.

In 2022, remote and hybrid work environments are the norm — and that means top marketing and creative talent will seek out this flexibility when evaluating their next move. For some, it may even be non-negotiable. To be competitive, don’t require your employees to physically show up to the office every single day if their role doesn’t actually require it.

Let them work from home at least some of the time, or implement flexible summer hours or early Friday release. It’s important to many candidates that they can work from anywhere while maintaining flexible work hours and work-life balance. 

Use this trend to your advantage. Remote work means your next top candidate could come from almost anywhere, so tap a bigger talent pool to increase the odds of finding a great match.

These shifts in the job market are not likely to change anytime soon. By taking these actions now, you’ll be prepared to attract top marketing and creative talent for years to come.

At Freeman+Leonard, we have the people you need, when you need them, and not when you don’t. And that includes some of the marketing industry’s most in-demand marketing and creative talent. 

Ready to find your match? Use the contact form below to reach out and start a conversation.

Get in touch with a Freeman+Leonard consultant today:

Here are the most in-demand marketing jobs of 2022

Here are the most in-demand marketing jobs of 2022

In today’s job market, hiring is at an all-time high, but available talent is at an all-time low. However, this talent squeeze hasn’t affected all marketing and advertising roles equally. 

In 2021, mid-level marketers were in highest demand. That trend has continued in 2022, but we’re also now seeing strong demand for the most senior-level candidates to fill executive-level leadership positions.

Certain skills are also more coveted by hiring managers than others. The hottest jobs are often the result of shifting strategic priorities. In 2022, those priorities unfortunately are also the roles they’re having the toughest time filling:

Based on our recent conversations with clients, the top strategic priorities for marketing and creative leaders in 2022 are: 

  1. Improving customer experience and internal employee experience
  2. Brand consistency in messaging and image across channels
  3. Leveraging data analytics more effectively to improve digital marketing strategies

Yet these same marketing and creative leaders say it’s most challenging to find qualified and available candidates in:

  1. Project management, traffic and operations
  2. Consumer insights
  3. Digital design and production
  4. Digital marketing and data analytics

If you happen to be a marketer in one of these fields, this gap in the market presents an opportunity to advance your career or move into a role that better suits your current needs. Employers are eager to fill these roles and are more open than ever to flexible arrangements like hybrid and remote work – especially since that means they can recruit top candidates from beyond their immediate geographic area.

And if you’re looking to diversify your skill set in hopes of standing out in a sea of applicants, you may also want to take some notes! Adding a certification or two in one of these areas could be just the edge you need to get the attention of your dream job’s hiring manager.

Here are the most in-demand skills and jobs for 2022, projected using data from our own client orders:


From digital strategists and digital transformation experts to digital media managers and analysts, digital roles are now one in every four job requests we get from clients! Developing your digital expertise is a must for achieving faster career growth and long-term success.

Email marketing managers 

Email marketers strategize, develop and manage email campaigns that inform consumers and business partners of new products/services or company announcements. They’re responsible for managing and segmenting contact lists using marketing automation software, writing email copy and crafting effective designs with CSS and HTML. They also may handle customer feedback. After analyzing results, they develop testing plans to continuously improve email performance.

Data analysts and marketing analytics

Data analysts develop models and generate reports to optimize a company’s or client’s marketing matrix. Their analyses can also provide insight into consumer behaviors and identify opportunities to maximize optimal campaign outcomes. We’ve specifically seen a rise in demand for experts in Python and Tableau.


All disciplines and all levels of social media, digital, traditional, paid and direct response media have been growing rapidly. Media strategy, planning and execution are all in high demand on both the Agency and the Corporate side, and for every industry.

Consumer insights experts

Customer insights analysts help businesses understand their clients in new ways, from needs to purchase patterns. Their work involves determining how to gather relevant data about current and potential customers. They collect this data and break it down in a meaningful way to create an actionable plan for products, communications and even customer experience.

SEO/SEM specialists

These experts formalize SEO and SEM strategies and tactics and help lead technology teams in implementation across all websites and brand extensions. They work closely with marketing and product teams as well as agency partners, and serve as a functional expert for inbound linking strategies. They must have in-depth knowledge of online media and SEO, including keyword selection and utilization.

Copywriters and content strategists

Content strategists plan, create and manage content that is relevant, engaging, easy to find, actionable and shareable across digital platforms. They deliver assets to satisfy the goals of a company or client and the needs of a customer or end user, provide guidance on channels for delivery, and measure the effectiveness through customer engagement.

Art directors and graphic designers

Designers and art directors deliver a variety of creative assets, from logos and print and publication graphics, to social media templates, advertisements and much more. Before embarking on this career path, it pays to decide whether you want to specialize in certain types of graphic design, or motion or video design, or if you’d prefer to be a generalist. These skills are all in demand from junior to senior levels.

Front-end web developers

Front-end web developers utilize code to develop appealing and user-friendly web- and mobile-based applications. Using a combination of markup languages, they write web pages and provide website maintenance and enhancements. They must be proficient in programming languages, such as CSS, HTML and JavaScript.

User interface (UI) designers

UI designers decide how a product or website will be laid out and presented visually, and create wireframes. They work closely with UX and other designers to ensure that every touchpoint users encounter in their interaction with a product conforms to the overall vision created by UX designers. Prototyping, CSS handoff, Freehand, Craft, Sketch, InVision, Adobe XD and Figma are key functions and tools.

User experience (UX) designers

UX designers identify the architecture and wireframes that will help users navigate a product or website. They zero in on users’ underlying emotional and functional needs and apply that knowledge to create an enjoyable experience that also supports business objectives. UX designers are responsible for the full design process, from research, ideation and concept development, to prototyping and evaluation. They’re typically also responsible for user-acceptance testing on prototypes or finished products. This role requires the ability to collaborate with business, customer service, design and technology teams, as well as an expert understanding of design principles and wireframing tools, such as Adobe XD, Maze, Axure RP, Balsamiq, InVision and Sketch.

Ready to make your next move? 

No matter your current marketing and advertising skill set, Freeman+Leonard can help position you for long-term success.

Even if you’re not actively looking for a new role, get in touch with our recruiters on LinkedIn. We know the market well, and we know marketing and advertising; many of us worked in that world before joining this independent, woman-owned talent agency.

We understand your role and talents more than you might expect – and we know what your talent is worth. And there’s never any charge to work with us. Let us be your career advisor – in today’s market, and the next.

Submit your résumé or portfolio to today.

7 common thank-you note mistakes

7 common thank-you note mistakes

In a remote-first world, post-interview thank-you notes are more relevant than ever. Here’s what NOT to do when writing yours.

Note: This is part 2 of our series on the art of the post-interview thank-you note. Start at part 1 to grab our formula for an effective thank-you note.

The thank-you note is a powerful tool for job seekers. Sending one can help you build a relationship with your potential future employer and position yourself as the strongest contender for the role.

But if done poorly, it can also backfire — or at the very least, undermine the strong impression you hope to make.

Here are the most common mistakes we see candidates make when sending thank-you notes after interviews — and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Waiting too long to send it.

It’s best to send your thank-you note within 24 hours after the interview. That way, the interviewer’s memory of the conversation is fresh and your note can solidify their good impression before any key post-interview decisions. 

Ideally, you would ask for the interviewer's email in advance, but if you were not able to do this, send your note to the person who set up the interview and ask them to forward it.

Mistake #2: Being careless with mistakes or typos. 

This is not the place to rush or get sloppy. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but a thank-you note with grammatical or spelling mistakes can backfire.

It’s shocking how many typos we see in thank-you notes — especially misspelled company names! Before hitting the Send button, have someone proofread it. Your recruiter would be happy to look it over! You can also try using free tools like Grammarly to double-check that your writing is clear.

In the following example, the company’s name is misspelled, and the note is grammatically sloppy, with words missing from several sentences.

Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedules to meet with me today. I enjoyed our discussion today. It was wonderful to learn more about the role with [misspelled company name]. It sounds like the culture of learning is exactly what I’m looking for in my next role.

I feel that [my] experience as an [job title] is a great match for this position. My experience client facing and working with internal teams would help me succeed in this role. [“client facing” is not commonly used in this way, so it would read better as “My experience working directly with both clients and internal teams…”]

It was wonderful to meet the team today. It would [be] an honor to join the company. I look forward to connecting again soon.

Mistake #3: Making it too long or too short. 

Say enough but not too much. It’s an email, not an essay. Cover the basics, make your case, and close it out. Three or four short paragraphs, structured like the sections we outlined in our formula for an effective thank-you note, makes for the ideal length. 

A recent candidate for an account manager role (with a $90-$100K salary range) sent this underwhelming note:


It was so great to meet you and learn about [company]. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today.

I hope you have a great day!

All the best,

Here’s another equally unimpressive, too-short note (with a typo, to boot):

[Hiring manager],

Thank you for taking the time to meeting with me today regarding your [job title] role. It sounds like a great opportunity.

Thanks again,

Mistake #4: Being too generic.

Your note should not feel like it could have been written to anyone, about any role. Though we strongly encourage following a formula, the idea is to personalize it with specific details about the conversation and the role. Make it feel like a genuine continuation of your interview. A copy-paste job from the internet is worse than having sent none at all. 

And don’t forget, you’re a marketer, so act like it! No matter the role, be self-aware enough to market your strengths and skills as an ideal match for this particular role, and present yourself as a resource. But keep the next mistake in mind as you do…

Mistake #5: Making it all about yourself. 

A classic thank-you note mistake involves focusing too much on why you think you most deserve the role, or what you’ll get out of it. You do want to express your interest, and you should certainly be specific about why you’re excited about the role, but there is a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. 

A simple fix? Focus on what you can contribute to the company or team. What impact do you think you’ll have in the role? How will your work lead to specific improvements? 

Remember: If you were the hiring manager, you’d be less interested in what a candidate can do than in how those skills and experience will benefit you and your company. In marketing terms, this is about selling the benefits, not the features.

This approach also helps if you’re worried you’ll actually do the opposite and accidentally undersell yourself. By focusing on specific ways your unique skills will benefit your employer, you’re taking the focus off of you as an individual and placing it on the team and company you hope to join.

Mistake #6: Starting every sentence with “I.” 

It’s very easy to unintentionally start every sentence with “I” when you’re reflecting on your own thoughts about an interview, or pitching your own skills — but this can read as though you’ve made yourself the focus of the conversation (Mistake #5!) rather than the opportunity or the company. Take a look at how frequently you’re starting sentences that way, and mix it up.

A recent thank-you note from a candidate missed the mark on both #5 and #6:

I wanted to thank you for your time today in discussing the [job title] opportunity, along with sharing the work life at [company]. I really appreciated it and getting to know you as well. This role seems like a great opportunity and would be a great fit for me! Looking forward to hearing the next steps.

And this candidate’s note managed to begin every sentence with the letter “I”:

I hope you're having a great day so far! I appreciated our conversation yesterday and wanted to thank you for taking the time to meet with me! I was able to learn more about what the position would entail at [company name], and I hope you got a better picture of my background in [marketing field]. I look forward to hearing back shortly!

Mistake #7: Being too pushy. 

Sometimes candidates mention other places they’re interviewing or add details that could be read as an attempt to apply pressure. This doesn’t work in dating, and similarly, it will only backfire here. 

If you are under a time crunch due to another offer you need to respond to, mention that to your recruiter and let them discuss it directly with the hiring manager.

Your thank-you note should sell your skills effectively, but as a gentle nudge — for the interviewer to remember and recommend you for the next step. 

When done right, thank-you notes can help you make a genuine connection.

Sending an effective thank-you note can help remind your potential employer of why they enjoyed meeting you, and why you’d be a great choice for the role. 

Viewing this as a chance to make or continue a genuine human connection with your potential employer, rather than an obligation or outdated norm, will help make your thank-you note stronger (and much easier to write).

We’re here to help.

Have other questions about thank-you notes or other strategies to land your dream job? That’s what our recruiters are for. 

We’re not just here to match you to the open jobs of today. We’re also career advisors, looking out for your long-term prospects — and there’s never any fee for our services. 

Connect with us on LinkedIn and submit your resume at

And now that you know what NOT to say or do in your thank-you note, be sure to go back and read part 1: The art of the post-interview thank-you note so you know what should be included!

The art of the post-interview thank-you note

The art of the post-interview thank-you note

Yes, they’re still an important tool for job seekers. Here’s how to write one that wows.

In today’s unusual job market, with its rising salaries and higher expectations to match, candidates should take every opportunity to stand out and make a good impression. And though it may sound antiquated, the thank-you note is still an important tool for job seekers who want to improve their odds of receiving an offer.

We get it — thank-you notes can seem like just one more chore on a job seeker’s list. And the expectation of one can even seem like an unnecessary burden in a market where candidates now hold more power over the direction of their own careers.

But sending a thank-you note doesn’t mean you’re begging for a job or that the employer holds the power.

The thank-you note is a powerful tool to help you build a relationship with your potential future employer and position yourself as the strongest contender for the role. 

Think of a thank-you note as your final opportunity to shine, to demonstrate your communication skills, and to keep the conversation going. Such a gesture also shows the employer that you’re motivated and still interested in the job, that you follow through, and that you were paying attention to the details of your conversation. 

First impressions matter, but so do last impressions!

And in a remote-first world, where virtual interviews and onboarding are the norm, the thank-you note is more relevant than ever before.

Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager: It can be difficult to evaluate a candidate through a computer screen and get a sense for who they are as a person, even if all the Zoom interviews go well. And making the wrong hiring choice can be a costly mistake. Employers are looking for any and every piece of information they can get about a candidate to help them narrow their list to a single individual — and that includes the communication they receive after the interview.

In fact, not sending a thank-you note can cost you the job. We’ve recently seen clients pass on candidates solely because they didn’t send a thank-you note — no kidding! (Hint: Making common mistakes in your thank-you note can also undermine your efforts.)

So let’s reframe the thank-you note: This is about much more than etiquette — it’s about genuinely connecting with your potential future boss. And it’s a small gesture with a potentially big payoff.

(And forget your grandma’s advice — you can send it via email, no handwriting or postage stamps required.) 

So how do you write an effective thank-you note? 

While there’s no need to follow a rigid template, knowing what to say when you sit down to write your email is half the battle. So we’ve developed a repeatable, customizable formula for post-interview thank-you notes. 

Here’s the anatomy of a good thank-you note:

Part 1: Offer a quick recap and express appreciation.

Open by reflecting on the interview itself and thanking your interviewer for their time. Mention that you enjoyed meeting them and appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the role and to share your story. 

Always try to call out something specific that you love about the position. You may also want to mention something you specifically enjoyed learning about the organization. 

One of our recent candidates opened a thank-you note with a simple version of this:

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me about the [job title] role on your team. I really enjoyed the conversation and know I could bring a lot to the position in terms of growing the offline media channels and helping both strategically and tactfully.

If you have something in common with the interviewer, be sure to mention that here as well.  

Part 2: Keep the conversation going.

Reference something you discussed, and find a way to continue that conversation. This could be a particular question that stood out to you, or something your interviewer mentioned but you didn’t have time to dive into. Work that into your message by making a follow-up point, sharing a recent article that’s relevant to the conversation, or sharing additional work samples that shed more light on your expertise on the topic.

This is your opportunity to show that you were thoughtfully engaged in the interview — that you were listening and paying attention — and if done well, it can be a chance to remind the interviewer of your strengths.

One recent candidate even used this as an opportunity to share praise received from former coworkers:

I found it especially insightful to learn what type of qualities and work ethic you would like a candidate to bring to the role beyond their technical capabilities. You mentioned that the ideal candidate would be someone who asked questions, but was also able to seek out answers and be a problem solver. I believe these are some of my greatest strengths, but rather than take my word for it – I offer the following testimonials from my former colleagues and superiors:

If the interviewer was personal and candid with you about the role, the qualities they seek , or the challenges the role would face, thank them for their candor and openness and respond with specific reasons you believe you're a good fit.

Part 3: Express your interest in the position.

Interviews have a way of bringing to light new information about a role not previously shared. So, it’s not a given that you’ll still be interested after learning those details. 

Don’t be shy. If you’re still enthusiastic about the role and interested in moving further in the hiring process, say so!

If you still want the job, make that clear as you close out your thank-you note. Be specific about why that is. What in particular makes this role a perfect match for your experience and the challenges you seek? Which specific aspect of the role or the company is most intriguing? 

One recent candidate, after speaking with two potential future colleagues in a second interview, followed up with the hiring manager directly to share how it went. You can use her note as a template:

I also liked [something specific an interviewer brought up]. I understand the role would require [describe something specific about the role] and I’m ready to dive in. After speaking with both of them, I’m even more excited about the opportunity.

You can also add a more personal touch here, and remind the hiring manager of something you have in common, if you’ve yet to find a way to work that in. One recent candidate closed her thank-you note by referring to a conversation she’d had about an interest they shared outside of work. It feels warm and inviting, and immediately helps the interviewer feel as though they’re already friendly colleagues:

I just want to thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. I once again thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and I really think we’d work well together. Looking forward to hearing next steps and hope to be a part of your team. Please feel free to reach out with any additional questions about my experience (work or [personal topic discussed]-related) and good luck with the [personal topic discussed]!

BONUS: If you want to really impress, add the following:

If I were hired, I would love to [insert what you’re most excited about doing there]. 

Part 4: Keep the lines of communication open.

Offer to be available should they need any additional information or materials. You may think this is obvious, but there’s power in stating it outright. Closing the thank-you note this way helps keep the lines of communication open while seeming friendly and helpful.

I hope to hear from you soon. If there is anything else I can provide you with, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Never underestimate the power of thank-you notes to make a genuine connection.

Remember: Thank-you notes are a powerful tool at your disposal to make or continue a genuine human connection with your potential employer.

At the end of the day, we all want to work with people we feel we can connect to and easily communicate with. A strong, genuine thank-you note positions you as that ideal future co-worker or employee.

We’re here to help.

Have other questions about thank-you notes or communicating effectively to land your dream job? That’s what our recruiters are for. 

We’re not just here to match you to the right job now — we’re also career advisors, and there’s never any fee for our services. 

Connect with us on LinkedIn and submit your resume at

And now that you know the formula for an effective thank-you note, read part 2 to learn what not to do: 7 common thank-you note mistakes