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

How to nail your next Zoom interview

How to nail your next virtual interview

Remember the days when you started with a phone interview and advanced to at least one in-person interview with the hiring manager before landing the job? Those days are over. Just as remote work and hybrid arrangements are here to stay, we predict Zoom interviews will remain a standard in the hiring process. 

Not only is a virtual interview more cost-efficient and convenient for all parties, widening the pool of candidates, but it reflects the everyday work environment for many marketing professionals now.

Even executive positions at large organizations are being filled without face-to-face interviews in 2022. 

If you are on the job market or plan to be soon, it’s important that you learn what it takes to nail your Zoom interview. 

1. Pretend it’s an in-person interview.

We always recommend that you treat a video interview as you would an in-person interview. This is your opportunity to show the employer exactly who you are and present the best version of yourself, so why not take it as seriously as you would a face-to-face meeting? 

Dress for the job you want.

As you get ready for the interview, pretend that they’re expecting you to walk into the office — prepared, poised, polished, and portfolio in hand.  

This includes dressing for the job you want, from head to toe. Sure, ultra-comfort is one of the biggest perks of working from home. And we’re all in on the secret; as long as you keep a business casual shirt within arm’s reach, you can get away with wearing athleisure all day and jump on a video call at a moment’s notice. 

But a job interview is not the time to sport your “Zoom mullet” — business in the front, party in the back (or, more accurately, work-ready waist-up, nap-ready waist-down).

Always wear professional attire — down to your pants and shoes. We’ve had clients ask candidates to stand up and show them their shoes. Even if it’s done in a lighthearted way, it could happen to you — you don’t want to be caught wearing coffee-stained sweatpants and ratty slippers!

Give them your undivided attention.

No matter your location, the always-connected culture of modern business means the workday is rife with distractions. We’re all a text, DM, Slack ping, or door knock away from someone vying for our attention. This can derail an interview.

Remember when AMC Theaters warned us, “Don’t ruin the movie by adding your own soundtrack”? (Remember movie theaters?) When it’s time for your Zoom interview, don’t forget to silence your phone and turn off your notifications to eliminate all distractions.

Stick a Post-it to your screen if you need a reminder, and put a sign on your door to ward off your family.

We’ve seen candidates answer texts while on-camera or ask the interviewer to hold on while responding to an email. If you wouldn’t do it sitting on the other side of the hiring manager’s desk, don’t do it on Zoom. Take an “it can wait” stance and focus all of your attention on the task at hand. 

Remind everyone in the house that you have an important interview and put a plan in place to eliminate interruptions. Many of us have seen the funny, but cringe-worthy, viral videos of kids bursting through the door and naked spouses emerging from the shower. This happens more often than you might think, and while many employers are understanding to a point, you don’t want it to happen to you. 

Practice professional presence. 

One of the drawbacks of Zoom is that neither party can fully read the other’s body language — an important part of communication. So it’s up to you to project confidence, good listening skills, calm under pressure, and gravitas while communicating on camera.

Remember to maintain your focus and look into the camera while speaking, just as you would look the interviewer in the eye, face-to-face.

We can tell when a candidate is reading something on their screen or searching the internet for an answer. And you should be familiar enough with your device that you know where to look when having a conversation. 

Part of being comfortable with communicating on-camera means paying closer attention to the other person. Look for cues in their body language and expressions to follow a cadence and build rapport.

Sit with your shoulders back, not too close to the screen, and don’t be afraid to use your hands — but not too much. 

You might find it helpful to record yourself doing mock interviews with a friend or coach to identify any nervous tics or habits that you’ll want to avoid, such as touching your hair, fidgeting, leaning back or swiveling around in your chair. Because you are likely sitting at a desk where you commonly work alone, the familiarity of your environment may make you more prone to act this way on camera than you would in person.

2. Be the art director of your background and environment.

Every aspect of the interview process is an opportunity to showcase your personal brand. You’re a marketing professional and, no matter the role, that means you should have some awareness of what it means to market yourself. 

The brand you present in an interview is a full package — not only your person and what you bring to the table but also the environment in which you work. 

Remember, your space tells a story.

In an interview, you want to show up in your best light and take center stage — the set matters. Think of your backdrop as part of your brand story. It’s a glimpse into your world; what does it say about you?

Not only that, but chances are, the role will be either remote or hybrid. Employers want to know you have a dedicated space in which to focus and stay productive. Whether or not you are client-facing, you will be expected to participate in Zoom meetings. Are you able to represent yourself and the company well? 

Simply put, your background should look like a professional home office — not a garage, bedroom, or laundry room. Of course, you can use any of these spaces as your office, but do your best to arrange the background and camera angle in such a way that it appears to be a dedicated office. Virtual backgrounds can be distracting, so we generally advise against them.

If your options are limited, use a room divider or screen to block off an office area.

As a caution, you should still ensure the space behind your backdrop is neat and tidy.

Assume that it could fall at any moment, which is what happened to one of our candidates — only to reveal a room full of empty beer bottles and other trash.

You might not realize it, but things such as flickering candles, whirring fans, and pets grooming themselves behind you can irk the person on the other end of the video call and distract from what you are saying. 

You may not even notice things like piles of laundry, stacks of scattered papers, and cluttered bookshelves in your home, but the interviewer will and it will give the impression that you are unorganized. Ask a friend to hop on a Zoom with you and point out anything that may need sprucing up.

Make the most of unavoidable scenarios.

Ideally, you should make every effort to be in your home office for the interview. In most cases, you only have one shot to make the right impression, so it’s important to do whatever you can to put yourself in the right environment. 

But sometimes a less-than-ideal scenario can’t be avoided. So, no matter where you are, do your best to minimize noise and visual distractions. 

If you are traveling or must do the interview while on-premise at your current job or in your car, make sure the recruiter and interviewer are aware so they know what to expect.

Avoid busy parking lots, dark parking decks, or windy outside areas. And whatever you do, never hold an interview in your office with any logos in the background — and especially not those of your prospective employer's competitors.

Put technology to work for you, not against you.

Good lighting can go a long way in putting your best face forward, so take the time to try out different angles and options. As a rule of thumb, the lighting should be behind the camera, not behind your head — shining on your face, but not too brightly. You can purchase an inexpensive ring light on Amazon or simply place a lamp behind your monitor.

Point the camera straight-on, not below you or above you. The interviewer should not be looking up your nose, and your forehead should not be cut off.  Make sure your full face and shoulders are within view. 

Don’t let your tech get the best of you. Always test your camera, mic, speakers, and internet connection to make sure everything is in working order prior to your interview start time.

Even if it all worked fine yesterday, check and double-check to ensure no software updates, glitches, or password mishaps get in the way of logging in.

If you’ve never actually used Zoom, Teams, or the company’s video conferencing tool of choice, be sure you’ve downloaded the app and tested it well in advance.

Pull up the meeting invitation with plenty of time to spare; you don’t want to be late just because the app took an extra minute to load. And have a phone number or email address as a backup to reach the interviewer, just in case you run into any trouble. 

Looking for tips on how to add a virtual background? Check out tutorials from Zoom (or whichever virtual meeting platform your interviewers are using).

3. Research, research, research.

The best way to make a strong impression in your Zoom interview is to first research the company and the role for which you are applying. More than anything, the employer wants to know that you are capable but also knowledgeable about the company. You want to convey that you not only want a job, but that you want this specific job.

Dive into the job description.

Chances are, you’ve applied for a number of jobs, so it’s crucial that you again review the job description for this particular role, even more carefully. Job descriptions often contain gems that can be valuable in your interview prep. 

Look for the details that align with your skills and experience as well as those that don’t. You want to be able to speak to the exact value you bring to the table when it comes to what the employer needs and also be cognizant of where gaps exist — so you can address everything confidently.

By the time you show up for the interview, you should be intimately familiar with every detail of the job description. Don’t let them catch you off-guard when they know you had the information right in front of you.

Do some studying up on the company.

Allow yourself plenty of time to read everything you can about the company and how the role for which you’re applying fits into the big picture. 

Read through their website, check out their recent social media posts, and look for any recent press releases or news stories. Make sure you are familiar with industry news and trends. You should be aware of who their main competitors are, where they are in the marketplace, and what makes them different.  

Familiarize yourself with the company’s leadership team, your potential coworkers, and the interviewer.

Do some LinkedIn homework to find out about their background, schools, and any mutual connections you have. Don’t hesitate to bring up commonalities or discuss interesting points you find. It’s not creepy; it shows that you were interested enough to come prepared.

If you have friends or acquaintances that work for the company, consider reaching out to get the inside scoop. You’ll find that people are often eager to offer helpful insights. 

It’s surprising how common it is for candidates to show up to an interview knowing very little about the company and missing key points that they should’ve known. Don’t let this be you. 

Lack of curiosity kills the interview.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in an interview is to not ask questions. If you don’t have questions, it can seem as if you’re uninterested, that you haven’t been paying attention, or that you’re a know-it-all.

Asking good questions shows that you’ve done your research, that you are well prepared to go deeper, and that you are a curious person.

Remember, you are testing them out as much as they are you.

As a professional, you should know enough about what you want out of a company to be inquisitive about how you fit into the mix.

4. Prepare your personal talking points.

All too often, candidates arrive to an interview unprepared to speak on who they are, what they stand for, and what makes them different. Being prepared with personal talking points will boost your confidence and help you stand out from your competition. Why struggle to come up with strong stories on the spot when you have the material to identify stories in advance?

Bring your A-game.

You’ve read the job description and you’ve done your research, so you should have a good idea of what your potential employer is looking for in a candidate. This is your chance to demonstrate the value you’d bring. Yes, you’re good at data analytics, sales, graphic design, or branding — they want to know how you can solve problems and help their company create value with those skills. How have you done so in the past?

Again, go back to the job description and identify specific examples of how you’ve been successful in demonstrating the required skills and responsibilities in previous roles. What change did you drive? How far did you move the needle? How did you create a win?

Be prepared to tell your stories, and come ready with examples. 

We recommend having in your pocket three stories about ways that you have overcome challenges, generated results, or otherwise brought value to your current or past employers.

Make it personal.

Companies aren’t looking for robots, they’re looking for people. More specifically, they’re looking for a cultural fit. Will you fit in with the company ethos? Are you someone they’ll want to work with?

If you’ve ever been advised to keep it all business, all the time, at work, it’s bad advice. Yes, you should always be professional. But it’s important to show off your personality too, so don’t be afraid to share personal stories that highlight your interests outside of work. It’s how people find common ground and relate to one another.

Fascinating experiences, interesting hobbies, and unusual talents that have nothing to do with the job could be the thing that makes you stand out in a sea of candidates. 

Our president and CMO, Kathy Leonard, once met with a young candidate who thought he had nothing interesting in his background to share during an interview. Upon further questioning, it turns out this candidate had traveled by himself to Peru for soccer camp before he was a teenager, and had learned to fly a plane before he learned to drive a car.

What he didn’t realize is that these experiences demonstrate that he’s a very independent and self-motivated person. 

Reach into your past and think outside the box to find ways to demonstrate your unique value. If you are stuck, talk it out with a friend or colleague. They may notice or remember something you don’t.

Lights, camera, action — you’ve got this!

In many ways, Zoom interviews are much the same as in-person interviews. But don’t neglect to address the important differences. Now, it won’t take place in the controlled office environment you may be accustomed to, but the ball is in your court, and you have a home-court advantage.

You’ve been preparing for this interview throughout your career — your whole life! The company needs strong candidates and the right hire just as much as you want the opportunity.

Make an effort to follow the tips we’ve outlined, and you can nail your Zoom interview.

BONUS: Download these tips as a free 1-page checklist! Click here to grab the PDF.

How to know when it’s time for a job change

How to know when it’s time for a job change

If you’re one of the many marketers or creatives watching the (truly wild) job market from the security of solid employment, you may be thinking two things:

  1. What a 180 from two years ago. How quickly things can change…
  2. Should I be looking for a new opportunity? After all, how long will all of this last?

As a result of all the upheaval we’ve endured, there are more open jobs than candidates to fill them, which has led to rising salaries, astronomical counteroffers, and other signs of a shift in the balance of power, like candidates ghosting their prospective employers (oh, the irony!).

So, it’s only natural that more marketers and creatives would look around and feel open to a change. But we’re not out of the woods, and still living in volatile times.

With so much still up in the air, should you stay or should you go?

Here’s how to know if it’s time for a new opportunity.

1. You can’t remember why you stayed – or your excuse has hit its expiration date.

If you’ve been with the same employer the whole time, think back to a simpler, more green time in your life, when you were less seasoned, and more naive:

January 2020. 

If you’re honest, were you really happy then? Was this your dream job? Or were you already counting down the days, at least subconsciously?

If you’re in the latter camp, it makes sense that you’d stay. Maybe you watched the economy collapse around you, and it just seemed safer to bury your misgivings.

You may have watched as your friends and colleagues lost their jobs, seemingly all at once, and felt lucky – grateful to your employer, even! – to still have one.

A useful way of looking at your career path is to see every role you take as serving some kind of purpose. Even jobs that end in less-ideal conditions can still give you useful information that informs future decisions. 

It’s perfectly acceptable if the job you took or kept during the pandemic only served as a safe harbor – but isn’t where you’re meant to be, long-term. If you performed your duties in good faith, you did right by your employer, helping to see them through one of the most difficult periods our country has known. That’s work you can proudly stand by.

But if you know, deep down, that you’re meant for something else, you owe it to yourself to explore what that may be. 

2. Your employer isn’t willing to budge on remote work.

One of the pandemic’s biggest ripple effects – the sudden pivot to working from home for many office professionals – has left deep imprints on the way we think about work and where it should take place. Two years in, return-to-the-office plans have been redrawn, postponed or abandoned countless times. 

The more that remote work continues to be the norm, the greater the culture shock will be for companies that choose to return to in-person offices. Many employers understand and embrace this, even if reluctantly so.

But not every employer can allow remote work, or wants to. If you’re working for a company with a distinctly butt-in-chair philosophy, but the option to work from home is something you now require, there is no shortage of companies or agencies that will gladly offer that.

Whether you need to work from home (or from wherever!) for personal safety or family health reasons, or simply because you can focus better or enjoy more balance that way, that’s your call.

Today, you don’t need to sacrifice your career dreams for a flexible environment.

If you’ve made a good-faith effort to ask for a remote or hybrid work environment and haven’t gotten anywhere, it’s probably time to part ways.

3. You’re ready to shine on a larger stage (minus the plane ticket or Uhaul).

Thanks to remote work, those big-city dreams are now a lot more attainable – and much less expensive to chase.

For marketers who’ve dreamt of working on particular national or global brands but were never interested in relocating to a bigger market like New York or Los Angeles, a door that was closed before has swung wide open.

Many of those companies and agencies have pivoted permanently to remote work, or made the strategic decision to cast a wider net by offering fully remote positions. With geography no longer a limitation, it’s time to chase your wildest career dreams.

Of course, that also means you’re competing for those jobs against impressive, experienced candidates from those larger markets. Even in this job market, don’t expect to saunter effortlessly into your dream job; you’ll still have to put your very best foot forward to stand a chance.

4. You’ve hit a ceiling on how far you can go, or how much you can learn.

Regardless of how splashy or simple your career ambitions are, many of us are seeking some level of intellectual stimulation or fulfillment from the work we do, day in and day out. So when we stop learning or being challenged, it can feel like an inner flame is slowly being extinguished. Before we know it, we’re feeling burned out.

Sometimes this happens when we’re consistently overburdened with work and feel unsupported or unappreciated by our managers or teams.

Reliable high performers may seem capable and steady, but starved of oxygen are no less susceptible to burnout than anyone else.

Burnout can also happen when we don’t feel challenged enough in the work we do, or can’t envision ourselves moving up within our current company. Whether there’s no obvious role to ascend to, or it’s just not a role that lights you up, it can feel like a dead end.

If you’ve asked your manager for help redistributing an imbalanced workload, or for more challenges and opportunities to learn, you’ve taken an important first step. But if, after a realistic period of time with follow-up conversations, you don’t see evidence that anything is changing, you may need to take matters into your own hands. 

Maybe you’d thrive more under a boss more interested in active mentorship, or perhaps the problem is widespread and cultural in nature; either way, there’s no reason to settle for a role that isn’t setting you up to succeed.

5. You suspect you’re underpaid, and ready to remedy that.

Much has been said (including by us) of the skyrocketing salaries created by this uniquely tight job market. Entry-level candidates are being compensated in ways that, a few years ago, would make sense only for highly credentialed, talented specialists with several years under their belts. This applies across all marketing, advertising and creative disciplines, and at every level of experience.

If the market swings in the opposite direction soon, a steep pay cut could be a difficult pill to swallow for marketers and creatives who end up not enjoying their new, high-paying jobs. (And those higher salaries come with higher expectations, even for more junior talent who are still learning and getting their footing.) 

But some in this position may have been chronically and grossly underpaid to begin with, especially those in historically marginalized and underpaid groups.

In those cases, a jump in salary can serve a noble purpose in correcting that imbalance – and resetting expectations in those communities in the long term.

For whatever reason, we probably all at one time or another suspect that we are earning less than we could. Salary is rarely enough reason on its own to change jobs. But if you’ve nodded along to any of the previous points in this article, and you’re ready to get paid for what your contributions are really worth, it’s probably time to speak to a recruiter.

A Freeman+Leonard recruiter can position you for long-term success.

Even if you’re not actively looking for a new role, keep the lines of communication open. 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 what you do, where you want to go, and 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.

Still not sure whether a  job change is right for you at this stage? 

Let’s talk it out. Reach out to the Freeman+Leonard recruiting team on LinkedIn:

Rachel Runnels

Ashley Allen 

And in the meantime, take a peek at a few of our current openings:

How to fast-track your marketing and advertising career growth

How to fast-track your marketing and advertising career growth

It’s no secret: The job market is hot. Companies are clamoring for top talent now more than at any other time in recent memory.

For marketers and creatives, the moment is especially ripe with opportunities. Employers need your skills to help them stay competitive in a digital-first world. And with the record-high quit rates of The Great Resignation showing no signs of slowing, the law of supply and demand is working in your favor.

Employers are getting the message loud and clear; the world of work has changed — probably for good. More companies and agencies are adapting to this new reality, offering remote work and higher compensation, building stronger company cultures, and making other efforts to attract and retain top talent.

This presents a unique opportunity to make rapid progress towards your long-term career ambitions, or find a role or employer that better suits your current professional needs or desire for work-life balance.

But before you jump at the next offer, don’t forget to account for your big-picture goals. No matter how tempting it might be to chase more money or a better title, check in with yourself first.

Where do you see yourself in the long-term, and how does this rung on the ladder lead you there? Is this the right next move for you, and are you prepared to step up in the specific way this role requires? Keep in mind, with higher salaries and bigger opportunities come higher expectations and greater responsibility. 

And if you are fortunate enough to work for a company making a genuine, good-faith effort to improve their culture and morale, remember that a good fit goes both ways. It takes two to tango! 

Rewarding your employer for their efforts by being a stellar team member is a win-win. Not only will it help your own career progress faster, your commitment and contributions will also prove to leadership that what they’re doing is working — and they’ll be more likely to continue investing in the things that make their company a great place to work.

No matter the job market conditions, the best way to quickly grow your marketing career is still by proving your value (and your values) through the actions you take at work every day to help you and your team succeed.

Here’s how to advance your marketing career and position yourself for long-term success in any market.

1. Know what’s expected of you, and master the basics.

The first order of business in any job is to make sure you know exactly what’s expected of you — specifically, how you will be evaluated at performance reviews: what key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll need to meet, and what other qualitative inputs will be considered, like feedback from clients, other team members, or leadership. 

Be proactive and ask during your interview, the onboarding process, and every step of the way, especially as your responsibilities evolve. 

It’s imperative that you understand what success in your role looks like and ensure you’re focusing your efforts accordingly, whether it’s your first day on the job or thousandth.

Of course, if advancement, including a promotion, is your goal, it doesn’t stop there. These expectations are only a baseline, and that level of output is considered table stakes for the role you have now. 

To move up, you’ll need to show your employer that you have what it takes to shine in the role you aspire to have — but you still need to master the one you currently have. This may seem obvious, but it can be tempting to skip this step when your sights are set on higher ground — and doing so could derail your progress.

2. Contribute strategic ideas and creative solutions for company growth.

To truly stand out as a star member of the team, you’ll need to go above and beyond your existing duties.

But simply working harder or putting in more hours may not get you very far, especially if your added effort is misdirected or not aligned with your company’s strategic priorities or your individual KPIs. 

For example, voluntarily picking up the slack for an underperforming coworker may not garner the recognition you’re after if there are more urgent or important projects on your team’s plate, or your strengths are better applied elsewhere.

This is as much about what you choose to work on as it is how much work you do. Take the initiative to identify the highest-impact contributions you can make, and operate proactively. 

Think like a futurist, looking around your industry to try to predict what obstacles your employer may face in the months and years ahead.. Behave like an “intrapreneur,” continuously seeking out opportunities and solutions for company growth. And equip yourself to make higher-value contributions, which might include learning new skills or getting relevant certifications. 

Consider it your job to do your part in crafting a vision for the future of your company — one in which you are a key contributor. Share your ideas generously with the goal of sharing in the company’s success.  

But don’t stop there. Map out how your suggestions could realistically be implemented, rather than simply identifying issues. 

In doing so, you’ll demonstrate to your manager and team that you’re both pragmatic and creative, that you understand the business and market realities in a way a leader would, and that you’re committed to your company’s success.

3. Focus on your team’s success, not just your own.

More professionals are feeling empowered to speak up for what they want, and to demand fair treatment and compensation — and though the Great Resignation hasn’t been easy for employers, we celebrate this transparency as a win-win. When workers are candid and clear about their goals, it’s better for everyone’s long-term success.

Ultimately, we all have ambitions and aspirations for our careers, and we know that it’s up to us to make those happen. (If you didn’t feel that way, you probably wouldn’t be reading this!)

But as you consider your individual growth, don’t forget that your network is your net worth. 

And the network that truly matters most to your career success is not the one you only associate with at industry meetups or happy hours: It’s the one you’re building with your co-workers every day at work.

Few people will be more able or willing to speak to your strengths in specific terms, or connect you to ideal opportunities in the future, than the colleagues you have right now. So be sure you’re nurturing those relationships (and your reputation!) through your daily actions.

Stay connected with colleagues through daily informal chats, particularly if you’re on a remote or hybrid team. (You’ll generate more ideas and solutions if you understand what your colleagues are working on, anyway!) Then work collaboratively with your team towards your common goals and strategic priorities, and pitch in where you’re needed.

After all, having a “that’s not in my job description” attitude is sure to keep you stuck in your current job — if you’re lucky. 

Being a “team player” means looking out for the team, and not just yourself. Having a collaborative approach encourages problem-solving, boosts efficiency and productivity, and contributes to a positive workplace atmosphere. Regardless of how observant your manager is, that attitude won’t go unnoticed by the people working alongside you and you never know when you may need their help in the future.

4. Quantify your achievements and advocate for yourself.

Don’t be shy about your professional goals. Your employer can’t help you grow your career if they don’t know what you want or where you’d like to be in 3 to 5 years. 

As The Great Resignation has brought to light, one of the leading causes of job dissatisfaction is a lack of growth opportunities or an unclear path for career advancement. More employers are now mapping out career growth opportunities in an effort to recruit and retain top talent in this market, but they’re not all there yet. 

Before assuming there’s nowhere for you to grow in your current company, express your ambitions directly with your manager. Approach the conversation openly and in good faith, assuming that your manager values you and wants you to succeed within the company. 

Employers are not going to promote you or create new opportunities just to keep you satisfied, of course; you’ll need to make your case and focus on the value you bring. Actions speak louder than words, but it’s still up to you to track, quantify, and communicate your achievements. 

Certain achievements may go unnoticed unless you speak up and “merchandise” your work in a way that affirms its value. Do what it takes to make sure your boss knows that you’re going above and beyond.

Take it upon yourself to schedule regular check-in meetings, send email updates that include a summary report of what you’ve accomplished, and forward any praise you receive. And every month or quarter, calculate the numerical results of your work as much as possible. 
It may feel uncomfortable, but a little self-promotion goes a long way. Remember, your boss wants to hear about the good things you’re doing and the praise you’ve received — it reflects well on them! One way to avoid feeling like you’re always tooting your own horn is to praise the contributions of others while you’re at it.

5. Lean into your leadership skills, no matter your role.

To thrive in your career, you’ll need to work on more than your marketing or advertising skillset. Employers want to hire marketers and creatives who are able to present ideas confidently, represent the company or agency in a client-facing capacity, and manage people, projects, and change. They want leaders.

Even if you’re not in a formal leadership role, demonstrating leadership skills will accelerate your career. Effective leadership has nothing to do with a title or position on an org chart. It doesn’t even reflect seniority or experience level. 

Instead, effective leadership is about taking personal responsibility, being proactive, and solving problems. It’s about demonstrating integrity, being dependable, building relationships, and motivating the people around you.

You can be a leader at any stage of your career by stepping up for your team and working towards shared goals, not just your own individual achievements.

If the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that adaptability and resilience matter, especially when your back is against the wall. Performing well under pressure shows that you have the emotional intelligence and confidence of someone your team can depend on to lead the way when stakes are high.

6. Build trust by being consistent and reliable.

This moment in history will pass; the labor market is always in flux. But the actions you take now will have ripple effects in your career for years to come. Be consistent in how you show up to work every day and contribute to your team’s success to cement your reputation.

Leaders need to know they can rely on you before entrusting you with greater responsibility.

Recommending someone for a promotion or other advancement opportunity comes with risks, and doing so when you haven’t proven yourself could be a costly mistake affecting your manager’s own career. The same applies to introductions, referrals, and recommendations by colleagues within your network; your work becomes a reflection of the person who recommended or introduced you.

Building trust takes time, and it happens through repeated encounters. It happens when your actions consistently match your words.

Don’t expect overnight recognition; be patient. Your career will take off when people know they can truly trust you to perform and excel with integrity, and that trust can be built only by you being a reliably high performer, not just some of the time, like when you’re feeling particularly motivated to advance or when there’s something clearly in it for you.

Don’t go it alone. Build a career advancement team.

Getting on the career fast track is not something you can do on your own. Not only will you need your professional network of colleagues, but mentors, coaches, and other professionals can offer guidance and support and open doors for you along the way. 

No matter how competitive the market, a talent expert can help you advance your career and position yourself for long-term success.

It’s important to build relationships with recruiters, even if you’re not actively looking for a new role.

We know the market well, and can be realistic with you about what’s possible for the next step in your career. 

Because our team has such deep expertise in the world of marketing and advertising (many of us came from the industry before landing in staffing!), we understand what you do and where you want to go better than you may expect. Let us be your career advisor.

Never hesitate to reach out to the Freeman+Leonard team on LinkedIn to start a conversation or to follow up on a job application.

Where will your career take you next? 

We have a few ideas for you at:

The Great Retention: How to retain top talent — even in a candidate’s market

The Great Retention: How to retain top talent — even in a candidate’s market

Between the 11.5 million U.S. workers who left their jobs in spring of this year and the 48% considering resigning, it’s no secret that employers are facing The Great Resignation.

Across industries, the events of the last two years have changed the way many people look at their lives and how they spend their working hours. A global pandemic has a way of putting things into perspective, and that’s led many workers to realize they want and need more from their professional lives.

The current labor market conditions have only made it more tempting for workers to consider a change. The competitive job market has caused salaries to skyrocket. Top marketers and creatives have realized they have the power to find work that fits their life, not the other way around.

As a result, many companies are struggling to hold onto their employees.

In a Freeman+Leonard survey of marketing and advertising professionals in August 2021, only 41% of workers employed full-time at the start of the pandemic were still with the same employer. Of those workers, just 31% said they’re happy with their current employer and position.

This should serve as a wake-up call for employers and employees alike. Just as your workers are redefining the significance of work in their lives, leaders of companies have a fresh opportunity to reevaluate their relationship to their most precious resource: their people.

As employers, we can either resign ourselves to The Great Resignation, or we can resolve to make this moment one of Great Retention for our businesses.

After all, we all know how expensive turnover can be. Strengthening your employee retention not only reduces hiring and training costs, but also cultivates a healthy team culture and can help keep your customers happy. And if you can keep your best people during these competitive times, imagine the stability and employee satisfaction you’ll enjoy when the market shifts.

So, what do marketing professionals want from work now — and how can companies and agencies retain their best employees?

1. Rebalance your financial compensation and benefits.

Money talks, and so do your employees.

More workers than ever before are embracing salary transparency, opting to share compensation information candidly with colleagues or friends in the same industries. It’s not uncommon for workers to discover they’re underpaid when they go looking for a new job, but now that information may come to light even if they’re not. Regardless, it’s time for a fresh look at the compensation you offer not just to your new hires, but to your existing team.

And while money is not the only factor in job satisfaction, it still tops the list.

48% of respondents to our survey indicated that higher financial compensation is their number-one most important consideration for their next job.

One survey respondent had grown frustrated with the slim pay increases and limited growth opportunities at their job of five years, saying, “The best benefit I had was a growing number of PTO days.” When they took a new job during the pandemic, they almost doubled their salary. This tracks with the dramatic salary increases we’ve seen across the board.

Another respondent prioritized financial compensation over all other factors because it allowed them to maintain their lifestyle and save for retirement, while another stressed the need to support their family and save for college.

Many also see their financial compensation as an indicator of how valued they are by their employer. “I want an employer that appreciates good employees and rewards them for a job well done,” one respondent said.

Check out the latest Freeman+Leonard Marketing & Advertising Salary Guide to find out if the salaries you’re offering stand up to your competitors.

2. Proactively map out career growth opportunities for your team.

Though it’s tempting to view the candidate’s market as a symptom of short-term, pandemic-driven restlessness, that doesn’t quite ring true for the marketers and creatives we surveyed. Workers want long-term career growth, and they’re more likely to stay with your company when you show them how they can move up within your ranks.

One respondent said, “I want the opportunity to try for promotions and advancement. I’m looking for a company to stay with long term.”

Another stressed that they’re particularly motivated by having a clear path for growth and an understanding of the role they’re reaching for.

This is true at every experience level, too — not just with your more junior employees.

“I’m mid-level in my career — the next step is a major step up,” one survey respondent shared, “so healthy mentorship and leadership and opportunities are crucial.”

We’ve seen a growing number of employers map out career growth plans for their top candidates at the offer stage. Take this same “courting” approach with your current employees. Have frank discussions with your workers about where they’d like to be in the years to come, and then tailor growth plans for each individual.

Knowing what your team members want long-term, and demonstrating a commitment to helping them achieve that, is key to ensuring they feel valued, appreciated, validated and heard.

3. Build location flexibility — and trust — into your policies.

Gone are the days of listing work-from-home opportunities as a “perk” of the job. Today, remote or hybrid work is a necessity in the world of marketing and advertising.

The past two years have allowed us to witness firsthand the impact of remote work on productivity, on both an individual and an organizational level. Many have discovered that their fears about performance were unfounded, while some simply grew to prefer the comfort and convenience of working from home.

As a result, a growing number of marketers and creatives are pushing back on company cultures that demand in-office attendance for work that takes place largely on a laptop computer.

And why shouldn’t they? At review time, their performance likely will be measured by output and achievements, not the amount of time spent behind a specific desk in a particular building. It just makes business sense to let employees office wherever they’ll do their best work.

In our recent survey, 68% of respondents ranked work-from-home options and location flexibility among their top three most important job factors.

One survey respondent said, “Remote work has now become a priority, and 2-3 days in the office is where I am most comfortable.”

Another stressed that a lack of location flexibility would be a deal-breaker: “I would not return to the office full-time without a remote option.”

“I feel that I am more productive at home,” one respondent added. Another said, “Long commutes are expensive and greatly affect my quality of life.”

Fears about health and safety are not behind us, either. “Remote work seems to be the smarter way to go in maintaining my health until we get a handle on the pandemic,” said one survey respondent. “High risk family members mean remote work is essential right now,” another shared.

For some, the option to work from home is even more important than how much they’re paid. Of those who ranked remote work among their top three factors, one-third ranked it higher than financial compensation.

Keep in mind that what employees want from a remote work-friendly employer is more than location flexibility itself. After all, there’s no point in working from home if you’ll be micromanaged as a result, or even monitored.

One survey respondent recently took a new corporate marketing job for a 25+% pay increase. However, that combination of remote work and higher salary have not succeeded in keeping another move off the table: “Leadership doesn’t trust their employees and ends up micromanaging everyone,” they lamented, noting that while they’re not actively looking, they’re open to opportunities.

Trust is key in implementing successful work-from-home policies. Encourage leaders to establish clear guidelines for remote work and measurable performance indicators for each employee, but otherwise trust their team members to do the work they were hired to do.

4. Build a culture your team can be proud of, from the top down.

Competitive compensation, individual career growth plans and remote work flexibility are important starting points for retaining your marketing and creative employees. But sustaining loyalty over time goes much deeper.

Your employees are also feeling a new sense of urgency around doing work they love (or at least enjoy) for companies they respect. Workers want to be a part of a company they’re proud of and tend to be more productive when they can take pride in their work.

For some, it’s even more important than the pay. “I feel that the quality of the work and team are more important than advancement or benefits,” said one senior-level corporate marketer in our survey. “I am looking for a creative team where I can participate and hopefully be a mentor.”

Pride in the job often goes hand-in-hand with enjoying who you work alongside. “I am really looking for a place where I really enjoy my colleagues and enjoy what I do daily,” said a survey respondent in upper management at a creative production agency.

Do your employees know what your mission and core values are? Do they believe in them? And most important, do they see the mission and values being embodied by their leaders? After all, a thriving, growth-minded culture begins with good leadership.

Good leadership is grounded in mutual respect, and marked by trust and transparency. This starts with good communication, but will be either fortified or undermined by the actions and choices made every day.

“Remote work is important, but I do need work-life balance,” said one survey respondent who added, “Strong leadership is important because it dictates your life.”

“Work-life balance has become the most important issue in my life,” echoed another respondent. “I need to find a company with management that truly adheres to that, does not suddenly change the conditions of my employment, and provides a reasonable level of work.”

Workers don’t just want their managers to help protect their work-life balance. They also want leaders with a strong vision and who take decisive action.

“My current position is at a startup with good compensation and unlimited PTO, but I am growing frustrated with the lack of strong leadership and strategic direction,” said one survey respondent,

A senior-level agency creative who responded to our survey stated they value “working for a company with a strong point of view and leadership that helps drive it.” Another said, “I will leave a well-paying position with a great benefits package if leadership is weak with no desire to level up.”

Encourage leaders and managers to take time to ask employees regularly (both formally and informally) what is, and is not, going well in their roles. Focus on establishing psychological safety so workers feel comfortable voicing their concerns and bringing new, innovative ideas to the table.

And most important, hire and promote managers whose actions build trust within their teams and actively demonstrate your core company values — rather than leaving those ideals to wither on the page of a sterile mission statement.

5. Remember that strong retention starts by hiring the right people in the first place.

Fostering a positive work environment with happy, productive employees is a steeper climb if your hiring strategy and onboarding processes don’t support your goals and values.

Use these five pillars to hold onto the marketers and creatives you already have — and partner with talent experts who specialize in finding the right match for your team, your values and your specific marketing needs.

The deep marketing expertise and personalized, strategic approach we bring to sourcing and vetting candidates at Freeman+Leonard is not only more effective, it’s more time- and cost-efficient — because getting it right the first time is a win for both of us.

Let’s get the conversation started.

Use the form below to get in touch with Freeman+Leonard and start making the right marketing and advertising hires for your long-term success.

How to hire for culture growth, not just culture fit.

How to hire for culture growth, not just culture fit.

As employers, we’ve been taught over and over the importance of hiring candidates who are strong cultural fits for our organizations. But what does that mean, and what if this focus on “culture fit” is actually holding your business back?

If you focus on hiring people who blend into your existing culture, then you’ll only maintain your current status quo — even as the world and business realities evolve.

Of course, it’s important that the people who work for your company share its core values, like respect, integrity and transparency, and that these values are not just words on paper but visible in the actions of its employees at every level.

Shared values are key to fostering enthusiastic, productive and happy employees, who feel empowered and appreciated as individuals, yet operate as a team to achieve a collective mission. This is what company culture really means and what a great one can do.

Culture is not about quirky office traditions, how often you socialize, the fun fringe perks you offer, or token signifiers like what kind of movies or music your team likes — yet it is too often understood this way.

Overemphasizing this kind of “culture fit” in your hiring decisions can be damaging to business growth because it can unintentionally limit the diversity of thought, experience and background on your team in ways that may be hard to see or measure. This is particularly the case for organizations without well-defined values or goals for their culture. Without anything to measure by, “culture fit” assessments are subject to the whims of a hiring manager or interviewers, a recipe for unintentional bias.

Your culture hinges significantly on how you hire, fire and promote people, and requires far more than a gut feeling about whether a candidate would “fit in” with the existing team.

Instead, consider hiring candidates who share your values and will add value to the future of your business by enhancing, challenging and strengthening the other aspects of your culture instead of just slotting neatly into it.

Doing this well requires a growth mindset, favoring the temporary discomfort that change can sometimes bring over the comfort zone of the status quo — or, “not rocking the boat.” It also means being willing to have hard conversations instead of burying potential conflict.

“Your culture is like your lawn,” said Jonathan Jones, Cultural Conversation Leader at DEMDACO, a Kansas City-based manufacturer. “You can choose to ignore it, but it’s going to do something all by itself and it won’t be beautiful.”

As a leader and a hiring manager, it’s imperative that you hire for the growth you want tomorrow, not just the culture you have today.

To reduce blind spots, foster innovation and prepare your organization for the future, you need diverse teams operating in an inclusive culture. This should start with, and go beyond, the more obvious factors that may come to mind when you think of diversity in the workforce.

Ideally, diversifying your team means seeking out and hiring people from a variety of backgrounds and communities, and also ensuring a range of professional experiences, education and skillsets.

For example, do you find yourself subconsciously favoring candidates who went to the same set of schools or worked at the same agencies? This can over time contribute to a homogeneous, stagnant culture.

Even something as seemingly benign as preferring candidates whose industry experience mirrors your own could hold you back. After all, the best ideas often come from unexpected places. Candidates from other industries could teach you new strategies that give you an advantage in your own.

The business case for a strong, diverse and inclusive culture is clear: Happier, more engaged employees are more productive and stick around longer, leading to less turnover. When employees feel safe bringing new or challenging ideas to the table — because their employer has demonstrated that they value diversity of thought — creativity and innovation are encouraged.

Hiring for culture growth instead of culture fit should also naturally lead to a team that demographically represents the world we live in, not just one slice of it.

Diversity is particularly important for marketing teams, who must continuously evolve the communications, tools and campaigns they build to resonate with a growing and changing consumer base.

But how do you find and hire talented candidates who may fly a bit under your professional radar? It starts with a look in the mirror.

Step 1: Define your team’s existing culture and blind spots.

Every company has an existing culture, even if its leaders haven’t worked to proactively shape it. But if you want to improve it, first you must define it.

Start by evaluating your brand’s stated core values and principles, and weighing them honestly against the day-to-day experience your employees have. What feedback have you received in exit interviews, good or bad? Where could your culture stand to improve, or where might there be misalignment?

Observe how your industry is evolving, and where you and other experts believe it will be in the next 5 or 10 years. What skills will be required that aren’t so common now? Reflect also on how your customers are changing, both demographically and psychographically.

Now do the talents and backgrounds of your team reflect these changes, or do they resemble outdated cultural or industry norms?

With this in mind, review your current employees’ personal and professional backgrounds. What do they have in common? Where are the gaps, weaknesses or misalignments?

Filling these gaps are what your next hire should bring to the table, so rather than sweep those weaknesses under the rug, let them inform your hiring strategy and guide your search.


Step 2: Get everyone on the same page.

Change begins with you, but it doesn’t end there. Overcoming old habits at an organizational level means aligning everyone involved in the process of finding, vetting and hiring your next employee.

From internal HR teams to external partners, from colleagues to direct reports, if they will be recruiting, reviewing, communicating with or interviewing candidates, they need to understand your goals and priorities from the jump.

Explain your desire to hire diverse talent who share your company’s core values and will add something new and unique to your existing team, even if they may not seem like the perfect fit on paper. Make a list of your desired qualifications and traits in priority order, with more conventional factors like education and relevant industry experience towards the bottom.

Few things will align internal teams more than establishing key metrics and holding them accountable. If you’re not in a position to do this, you still can emphasize the ROI of a stronger, proactively improved culture.

Step 3: Craft inclusive and inviting job descriptions.

Clearly defined priorities and aligned teams are important, but communicating effectively can make or break your hiring goals. Attracting your ideal candidates is as much about what you say as how you say it.

When writing a job description, avoid language that might turn off certain candidates or signal a less inclusive, less accessible environment. Verbiage such as “demanding” or “aggressive,” for example, might deter top candidates from applying. Those words don’t really communicate anything helpful or specific, anyway. Instead, focus on the facts.

Make sure your company’s website and social media channels will resonate with a wide range of talent, rather than undermine your efforts. For instance, at a minimum, the photographs you use should reflect the diversity you seek.

If your company has made a DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) commitment, be sure to share this in your job descriptions and in the Careers section of your website, along with any reported results since that commitment was made.

Step 4: Shake up your hiring processes to ensure the best candidates aren’t overlooked.

Of course, broadening the pool of talent you’re willing to consider has an inherent logistical challenge: wading through a potentially even greater stack of resumes. And more resumes to look through may just create more opportunities to rely on imperfect mental shortcuts to help you narrow them down.

However, certain behaviors, skills and personality types are required for success in different roles and functions — and these can be difficult to discern from a resume alone.

That’s why we recommend filtering the first round of applications by whether the candidate shares your values and will be a good fit for the role itself. At Freeman+Leonard, we often turn to the Rembrandt Portrait® Personality Assessment to evaluate talent on how likely they are to perform well in the job and in your environment.

The Rembrandt Portrait measures 14 inherent human qualities that contribute to job success. The assessment gives employers insight into a candidate’s personality and values, and helps identify skills such as problem solving, relationship building, communications and personal initiative.

When used early, especially at the application stage, the Rembrandt Portrait can narrow the stack of resumes to only your most likely top performers — without accidentally overlooking someone just because they didn’t seem right “on paper.”

Having your current employees take the Rembrandt Portrait assessment can also help you reveal their core values, which can either help to define those values at the company level or alert you to potential misalignment. Either way, you’ll have a strong baseline for evaluating the results of your candidates.

Best of all, with this filter in place, you can spend less time reviewing resumes and more time in the interview process, getting to know your strongest candidates on a personal level.

Step 5: Demonstrate your values in the interview and onboarding process.

Stated values must be more than words on a page — they must be lived and proven. The experience your candidate has in the interview and onboarding stages will impact the rest of the time they spend at your company, and this will be shaped by the actions of everyone they meet.

How your candidate behaves early on can also tell you what their values really are.

For example, one of Southwest Airlines’ differentiating core values is fun. This can be observed by anyone who’s flown with the airline and listened to a flight attendant’s goofy spin on the takeoff and landing safety instructions. Fun then is part of their interview process, even for corporate roles. One candidate we know walked into her interview at Southwest, sat down and realized she was facing a panel of interviewers wearing silly animal masks. The goal? To see how she would react. Discomfort, awkwardness or taking offense would likely not help her chances. Instead, she laughed — and she got the job.

Props and stunts aren’t required to judge a candidate’s values. At DEMDACO, it’s a simple conversation. “I interview everyone who makes it into an in-person interview, just to talk about culture and purpose, and mission and vision,” Jonathan said. “And I kick it off by explaining that our purpose is to pursue business the way it ought to be — and to seek the common good in all we do.”

Then, he listens carefully to their response. “I can tell if they’re tracking with me or not, but I also pay attention to their word choice, like how often they use the word “I” versus “we.””

Jonathan also asks questions in the interview to help determine whether the person in front of him matches the results of their Culture Index assessment (a tool that, like the Rembrandt Portrait, evaluates candidates based on their traits).

“I often ask if they’re already involved with their community, and figure out if they really understand what we’re trying to do with our purpose and mission. If they were trying to fake it in any way, it’s going to become evident very quickly.”

We all know that actions speak louder than words. By intentionally creating a hiring and onboarding experience that reflects your values and explores them in detail, you’ll set up both your organization and your new hire to succeed.

Step 6: Be willing to do the work long-term.

Hiring and onboarding are key aspects of culture growth, but will only be truly successful when applied consistently.

“Toxic cultures are like an overgrown lawn,” Jonathan repeated. “And when you let things go, it becomes that much harder and more expensive to make it beautiful again. But companies that work consistently and intentionally at pruning, trimming and removal will notice immediately when a weed sprouts up. It’s very conspicuous.”

“Shaping your culture is also a lot like a long-term relationship,” Jonathan continued. “Creating a healthy relationship is super, super simple. It’s just not easy. Creating a healthy organization is simple: Communicate well, give and receive feedback, make yourself accountable, and keep each other accountable. Celebrate well, and recognize others. That’s all simple — it’s just not easy. It takes hard work.”

Jonathan is likely onto something. Gallup defines an inclusive culture as one in which “everyone treats everyone else with respect, managers appreciate the unique characteristics of everyone on their teams, and leaders do what’s right.”

Simple, but not always easy.

Work with talent experts who understand your values and can source candidates who will contribute to growth and innovation.

Freeman+Leonard offers a hands-on approach to finding the right talent for the role while also leveraging data to reduce unintentional bias. Using a tool like the Rembrandt Portrait ensures only the strongest, most aligned candidates are considered, regardless of background.

We act as a strategic hiring partner throughout all stages of the hiring process to ensure everything — from the job description to the interview and the offer — will attract talent who will enhance your culture, not just fit into it.

Because a diversified team is key to a future-proofed business.

Contact Freeman+Leonard to start making the right hires to evolve your culture — and your business — into the best it can be.

#LoveThyLabor: Dare to diversify

#LoveThyLabor: Dare to diversify

While the advertising and marketing industry still has a long way to go, companies are prioritizing diversity more than ever before. This is to tackle historical social injustices and underrepresentation, and to enhance the quality of their marketing and strengthen connections with their consumers.

Also, platforms like Instagram and TikTok are creating a supply of, and a demand for, all voices, backgrounds and perspectives.

Though it’s become more difficult to identify and retain better talent overall, Freeman+Leonard offers a range of options to access more diverse talent, with significant advantages over solely going it alone.

  • Thousands of qualified candidates, of every background
  • Representation across all fields, disciplines
  • Access to talent from new markets
  • Ability to tap the right talent for the right jobs

At Freeman+Leonard, we believe that diversified teams create stronger businesses. Talk to any of our employees about how we can help you elevate and diversify your talent base.

? Suggestion on how YOU can Love Thy Labor:

Develop an employee referral program that rewards your current employees for identifying and helping recruit from a larger network of talent. Friends can vouch for their friends, and current employees will more actively promote your company and its open positions. This may allow you to tap into a wider pool of talent than you would have otherwise.

For more ideas on how to show your workers the love, head to

We look forward to your feedback and your own suggestions on how we all can extend our recognition and dedication beyond a single day each year.

With gratitude,
Kathy Leonard
President & CMO