Fractional CMOs: The growth-minded CEO's secret ingredient

Fractional CMOs: The growth-minded CEO's secret ingredient

Brand development. Competitive positioning. Go-to-market strategy. Communications. Business development. No matter what form it takes, or what they choose to call it, every business needs marketing in some form.

But not every company needs marketing leadership in the same way, or all the time. Fortunately, as demand for experienced marketing leaders has grown, so too have your options for accessing this kind of talent.

Enter: the fractional CMO.

What is a fractional CMO, and what can they do for you? 

A fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is a seasoned professional providing marketing expertise and consulting on an interim, part-time or project basis. 

They can help you create, execute and measure the results of your marketing strategy, campaigns, and initiatives. These experts offer a range of skills and knowledge that you may not have in-house, in areas including digital marketing, strategic planning and analysis, customer acquisition strategies, brand positioning and content marketing.

A fractional CMO can also provide guidance on how to manage resources and budgets so that you get the best return on your marketing investment. They stay up with current trends in the marketplace so that your business is always ahead of the innovation curve. 

A fractional CMO is often a great option for getting insights and leadership from an executive marketer without the expense of a full-time hire. 

What is so unique about fractional CMOs is they can be put in at any point in the game, are flexible depending on each specific need, and can address issues and solve problems from the start given their level of experience. They can be completely customizable to your business needs, down to very specific industry knowledge, perfect personality matches for teams and in any location.  

For example, a golf club manufacturer was introducing a new iron to their well-known line of club products. This product used a new manufacturing technology that promised to improve performance for amateur players. The company had a sales team but their marketing director had recently left and the product launch was imminent.  

Freeman+Leonard suggested a fractional CMO to lead development of the launch from product positioning and branding to website copy, sales materials and experiential marketing at trade shows and on-site golf events. The CMO even trained the sales team on how to position and discuss the new club in a very compelling way to their retailers and golf course clients. Following the very successful launch, the fractional CMO was no longer required and the company continued with the plan for sales support.

With a leader like this dedicated to planning and overseeing your marketing efforts, you can know that all aspects of your strategy are being handled effectively — even if you don’t engage their services all the time.

Who needs a fractional CMO?

Most companies can benefit from an occasional infusion of marketing leadership, but fractional CMOs are perhaps most suited to smaller to mid-size companies who don’t already have a strong marketing presence. They may have a good product or service and a top-notch sales team, but lack leadership in areas like lead generation, market opportunity evaluation, brand development, competitive positioning and pricing. 

Fractional CMOs can accelerate growth by fine-tuning a company’s marketing – and they can be pinch hitters at key times in your business’ trajectory, when strategies are pivoting, and extra thought leaders are needed to ensure successful growth and outcomes. 

Is there a void in your executive or C-suite? 

That’s often a great time to bring in a fractional CMO. They can serve as a temporary and neutral third party to provide leadership to your employees and ensure momentum is maintained and progress moves forward with your brand and products. These marketing executives can also be instrumental in bringing teams together to make sure everyone’s aligned and working towards the same goals. The productivity and morale boost a fractional CMO can inspire will far outlast their tenure!

Do you need a big idea for an advertising or promotional campaign? 

Fractional CMOs don’t just provide strategy and marketing operations leadership — they can also provide creativity and ingenuity. Many have decades of experience (and a few awards) from working with national and global brands at creative agencies, or from leading creative teams at major corporations. With this experience comes a unique understanding of what works and what doesn’t in various sectors and target markets, allowing them to generate powerful ideas that will engage potential customers and convert them into loyal ones. 

Are you launching a new product? 

Consider hiring a fractional CMO to map out your go-to-market (GTM) strategy. They can help you define and communicate your value proposition; identify the target customers. determine the channels, content and tactics you’ll use for marketing and sales; and finally, measure results. Of course, this plan must also be implemented. A fractional CMO can operationalize your GTM strategy from start to finish with an actionable plan that all teams can follow.

A credit company in the prepaid card arena planned to expand their business by creating a line of products aimed at consumers, a dramatic addition to their established B2B model. The effort to build brand awareness and sales among consumers was no small task. They needed to quickly make a significant shift in their go-to-market strategy and establish a compelling brand consumers would recognize and demand.

Freeman+Leonard, with a strong bench of CMO talent, hand-picked the perfectly qualified leader to take on this challenge for the company, developing the brand positioning, messaging and launch plan, and uniting the existing corporate leadership to support the plan.

When the launch and initial oversight were complete, this company was able to continue the GTM plan internally and their Freeman+Leonard fractional CMO became a resource to consult as needed.

In short, anytime you’re pivoting, launching or needing a big idea or extra leadership, but don’t require it year-round, a fractional CMO should be your solution.

How do you work with a fractional CMO?

There are many flexible and affordable ways to engage the services of a fractional CMO.

One approach, which we at Freeman+Leonard call a “Recurring CMO,” is to bring them in for an annual planning meeting or a project to develop your marketing strategy. They can then return for a monthly or quarterly meeting to ensure that strategy is successfully implemented. Your “Recurring CMO” can also be retained for a certain number of hours per month.

Executive-level marketing leadership can be affordable and effective without the need to hire someone full-time. Maybe you can’t afford a $400,000 salary, but you might be able to afford 40 hours per month with a CMO. 

With fractional CMOs, you can get a $400K marketing leader without the $400K salary.

There is no limit to the number of ways you can design your own fractional CMO engagement. At Freeman+Leonard, we can find the ideal fractional CMO for your needs and package their services in the way that works best for your business.

How do you know whether you need a fractional or full-time CMO?

With so many ways to access marketing talent, it can be tough to know which model best suits your needs. Is it to hire and build out a full-time marketing team? Hire an agency? Or do you really need to just bite the bullet and hire a full-time CMO?

To help you decide, our team recommends first reviewing your 2023 goals, broken down by quarter. What are your pain points? What do you want to achieve? Do you know how you’ll get there? 

A fractional CMO can help you review these objectives and determine the timelines, budgets, team members, strategies and tactics needed to achieve them — so we often recommend bringing one in immediately for this planning phase.

If your goals seem shorter-term, a fractional CMO can quickly help you make real progress and see you across the finish line, so don’t hesitate to engage the services of one.

But if your goals are much longer-term, a permanent role may be most effective. A fractional CMO can help you get the wheels turning while you start searching for a permanent hire.

No matter what you decide, the talent experts at Freeman+Leonard can help. We have access to many thousands of experienced marketers across the country, including dozens of executive-level consultants, many of whom are former CMOs themselves. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for more information. Contact us to start a conversation today, no strings attached.

3 ways to get the most out of working with a recruiter

3 ways to get the most out of working with a recruiter

Think you know your recruiter, and what they can do for your career? Think again! Many people vastly underestimate the value a recruiter can provide, and think of them only when looking for a new job. But a good recruiter can do much more than just connect job seekers to new opportunities.

A good recruiter is a career advisor and coach.

They can offer valuable insight into how to present yourself on paper and in interviews, and advice on salary negotiation. Throughout your career, they can help you set goals, assess job opportunities and weigh offers. With an experienced recruiter in your corner, you’ll be able to arrive at the right decision for yourself with confidence.

Recruiters also have an intimate knowledge of the industry or field they serve. (At Freeman+Leonard, we’ve taken this a step further, as many on our team are former marketers and creatives themselves. This makes it much easier to match your skills to the right opportunities!) They’re up on the latest trends in your industry and in the job market, which can be a great asset when you’re pursuing a new role or thinking about a career transition. By understanding what employers are looking for today—and tomorrow—they can provide clarity when you’re considering taking the next step in your professional life.

And best of all, there’s no charge to candidates for working with a recruiter. So don’t squander that support – maximize it! Here's how to get the most out of your relationship with your recruiter:

1. Be open and transparent about what you need in order to make a move, salary-wise and otherwise.

Your recruiter can’t help you if you’re not honest and upfront about your needs. Whether we’re talking about salary expectations, the title you want, your ideal industry or dream company, tell us the whole story – don’t hold back. 

That open dialogue will allow your recruiter to truly understand what you need in order to find the best fit for you, so you can make a successful transition.

We want to help you find your dream job. So tell us what you’re actually dreaming of! Even if it’s a little out of reach right now, we can help you map out how to get there – and then help you find an opportunity that moves you closer to your goal.

2. Give us something to work with! A short bio or talking points helps us “pitch” you to employers.

Many job seekers don’t know that when they work with a recruiter and are being presented for a role, their recruiter is often literally presenting you – with PowerPoint! So help us help you: Make it easy to put together a slide that really sells you.

A super-helpful way to maximize your time with a recruiter is to provide them with a short bio, or at least a few bullet points about your experience and background. Having this at the ready makes it so much easier to pitch you to prospective employers. It gives us an outline to focus on and ensures we cover the experience and accomplishments most important to you, and relevant to your potential employer. 

This bio or short list of bullet points should focus on what helps you stand out from other candidates. Here are a few questions Freeman+Leonard recruiter Brittani Kroog likes to ask job seekers to help differentiate them from other candidates:

  1. Tell me something about yourself that's NOT on your resume (talents, soft skills, certifications, etc.)
  2. What types of problems do you like to solve?
  3. Where do you see yourself in 2 years?
  4. What is your biggest motivator for looking for a new opportunity?

If this background is also in your LinkedIn profile summary (and on your portfolio website), even better. It helps if what employers are able to find out about you online aligns with what they’ve been told. And your LinkedIn profile can help them get a better sense for who you are as a person, and whether you’ll mesh well with the team.

3. Keep in touch, even after we’ve helped place you in a role.

Landed a new gig? Congratulations – now don’t be a stranger! We know you’ll be drinking from the firehose for a while at your new job, but once you’re able to come up for air, let us know how it’s going! Even if you land somewhere on your own, we still want to stay in contact. When you make a point of staying in touch, we’ll be more likely to think of you first when there’s another new opportunity down the line.

And, of course, think of us when YOU’RE hiring!

Some of our favorite relationships are those with candidates we talked to and helped in any capacity who later became clients. Since we already know you and your personality, we can easily jump in to address any hiring gaps quickly and efficiently.

Now or down the line, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here for any questions you have about your career!

Don’t have a Freeman+Leonard recruiter yet?

Let’s fix that right now. Upload your resume at and someone will be in touch. You are also welcome to reach out to our recruiters anytime on LinkedIn:


Why Q4 is the best time to look for and start a new job

Why Q4 is the best time to look for and start a new job

The holidays are a job-hunter’s paradise.

We’re well into one of the most unusual job markets in history, with no signs of returning to business as usual. Competition for top talent is holding strong despite a shaky economy. And as we head into year-end – a season typically marked by candidates and companies pausing job searches – you may find yourself wondering if now’s a good time to be on the market.

So to set the record straight: Yes, the end of the year is actually a great time to search for and start a new job. Yes, even in this economy.

But we get it; you have concerns. Here’s our take on the questions that have come up in recent conversations with candidates.

1. Don’t let fear be the reason you don’t chase your dream job.

Too often, we hear of talent hanging on to less-than-ideal or downright lousy jobs well past reason — especially when the economy is a bit bumpy. They’ve internalized the fear of being the “last hired, first fired” and cling to the perceived security of staying put. There’s something to be said for loyalty, of course, but not if it’s at a significant cost to you.

The reality is, job security is an illusion. Business is business, and as harsh as it sounds, anyone can find themselves on the chopping block at any moment — especially when the economy is in trouble.

This is why it’s so important to be entrepreneurial about your career, and focus on contributing your talents where you can make the greatest impact and receive in return the most reward and fulfillment. If you’re undervalued or underutilized in your current role, that’s not exactly an advantageous place to be when downsizing decisions are made, either.

In other words, now’s as good a time as any to make your next move and go after the job you really want. 

2. That bonus you’re holding out for could cost you. 

If your total comp package includes a sweet bonus opportunity, you may be hesitant to leave it on the table. After all, you’ve been working all year, gunning for that perk, and you deserve it. Bonuses are an effective way for smart employers to incentivize strong performance (and retention). But payouts are not guaranteed, and you won’t always see the writing on the wall.

With the fear of recession in the air, companies are pulling back and shoring up resources in preparation for a possible storm. This means making tough calls, including canceling plans to pay out cash reserves. If you think your bonus is in the bag because you’re making your numbers, think again. You might get it, might not.

Now is a great time to negotiate for higher salaries in a new role to combat inflation or to find roles that better suit your lifestyle,'' says Freeman+Leonard recruiter Brittani Kroog. “For the right employee, we are seeing companies go tens of thousands over their range and negotiate more PTO and other benefits.”

Plus, you may be able to negotiate for more money with a new employer to make up for the bonus you’re leaving on the table.

But even if not, you’ll need to decide if missing a great opportunity is worth a bonus you may not even get.

3. ‘Return to office’ is gaining ground, so get ahead of it. 

At Freeman+Leonard, we’re Team WFH. We think companies should be offering more remote work opportunities, not fewer. Alas, not every employer is on board. Many cling to outdated ideas about in-person collaboration (or their commercial leases), in addition to those whose workers must be on-site to perform their jobs.

In the past few months, we’ve seen a sharp increase in job descriptions with in-office-attendance requirements. And quite a few folks in our talent pool have been voicing displeasure about their employer enforcing return-to-office policies. With the pandemic waning, the trend isn’t looking good for home office holdouts in 2023.

If you prefer working remotely and it’s become clear that your employer has different ideas, your best bet is to get ahead of it. Doubly so if you moved farther away from your office during the pandemic (or even to a whole new city!).

Find a new opportunity with an employer that agrees with your thinking and appreciates the value of working from home. The clock is ticking!

4. Your competition is sleeping on the job (or sipping eggnog). 

The job search and hiring front are notoriously quiet at the end of the year. But in our experience, it’s often one of the best times to be on the hunt for a new role. Economic downturn and headline-grabbing layoffs aside, the job market is still strong in many sectors. Heading into 2023, healthy marketing and advertising budgets mean employers are still hungry for top talent. 

It can be tempting to take it easy during the holiday season, but your competition is probably thinking the same way. You may even figure that recruiters and hiring managers have completely checked out for the year, but we can assure you that’s not the case. Sure, some people are out of the office on vacation, but we’re still plugged in and actively looking to fill roles before the new year.

“We often advise clients to swoop in and get good talent now with fewer companies competing,” says Andrea Tipton, EVP, Marketing and Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “The same can be said for talent. Take the time now to decide what you want and go after it.”

With fewer candidates actively searching, December is a good time to stand out, get noticed and land your next role. 

5. ’Tis the season for searching and settling in with ease.  

The holidays can be a sleepy mix of slowing down at work while getting caught up in hustle-and-bustle at home. But don’t forget, you can always pare back your social calendar commitments and mile-long to-do list. If you’re eager to make your next move, use some of the downtime to polish your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, brush up on your interview skills, and take advantage of the slower pace.

If you land a role near year-end, you may be inclined to push your start date to January. But Q4 is a great time for onboarding without the pressure to start contributing right away. You’ll be able to sit in on planning meetings, connect with your new coworkers and clients during holiday social gatherings, get up to speed on company policies, programs, and technology, and prepare to hit your stride in January when projects are in full swing.

Set yourself up for success next year and beyond.

Overall, the future looks bright for marketing and advertising talent in this market. We encourage you to seize the opportunities in front of you, continuously strive to advance your career, and set yourself up for future success. December could be the month that makes a difference. 

The skilled talent professionals of Freeman+Leonard can help you with your search now and year-round.

Get in touch with a Freeman+Leonard recruiter today by submitting your resume or connecting with us on LinkedIn.

Why Q4 is an ideal time to hire and onboard new employees

Why Q4 is an ideal time to hire and onboard new employees

Don’t write off December!

Over the years, we’ve noticed a troubling pattern: hiring tends to go on hiatus in Q4. 

It’s certainly not because business has slowed. With leadership focused on hitting year-end numbers and top performers aiming to make their bonuses, there’s plenty of activity afoot. But as talent acquisition professionals, we’ve come to expect a lull in our workload each year heading into fall. And while we understand the reasons, we see it as a missed opportunity. 

Placing searches on hold and pushing back start dates might seem like a good idea. After all, the holiday season is coming up, lots of people will be on vacation, and hiring managers are looking forward to some downtime. However, putting staffing off till January can waste precious time that you can’t get back. 

Q4 is actually a great time to hire and welcome new employees to your team. Here’s why.

1. There’s less competition for top marketing, advertising and creative talent.

Employers may be resting on their laurels at the end of the year, but top candidates in marketing, advertising and creative fields are on the move. Holidays or not, candidates are actively looking for new opportunities this time of year. This means you have a real shot at adding to your team a few marketing rockstars that your competitors otherwise might have snapped up any other time of the year.

2. You can avoid burning out your team (and keep billing).

For many consumer brands and nonprofits (and the agencies that serve them), the holidays are actually a high-volume time of year in terms of sales and revenue. Not having a full team means you may not be operating at peak performance (or billing the hours you expected) – and during the busy season, that can cost you money. Hitting a ceiling on growth is never fun, and especially not during the time of year when the lion’s share of revenue is expected.

Not to mention this stretches your existing team far too thin during a time when everyone else they know is relaxing at home with friends and family. It’s a recipe for burnout you can easily avoid by staffing up in Q4, rather than waiting for that “ideal” moment in the new year.

3. Your new hires get to learn ‘by osmosis’ while your team strategizes for the year ahead.

The end of the year is a natural time to reflect on the progress you’ve made, reassess the challenges you’ve faced, and look forward to what you hope to accomplish in the months ahead. 

This gives your new employees a unique opportunity to absorb information about the company and their role that will be vital to their success, simply by being in the room during important discussions.

Your new hires get to see the 30,000-foot view before the year begins and before they (and everyone else) get caught up in the day-to-day.

The fresh perspectives that new team members bring can also open your eyes to alternative approaches, potential obstacles you haven’t anticipated, or trends you might have missed – before your plans are set in stone.

Including new team members in these important discussions can also help you bond with new hires and help them feel valued and welcome.

4. You can hit the ground running in January.

As we all know, returning from the holidays at the first of the year can be grueling. The transition from festivities and Hallmark movie binges to a calendar chock-full of meetings and deadlines can be a shock to the system. Not the best atmosphere for onboarding a new hire. 

When you fill open positions in Q4, you avoid thrusting new hires into the weeds on day one. A more laid-back schedule means they have space to review materials, and get up to speed on your systems and technology rather than jumping right into a project. And while your team is less busy, they can show them the ropes.

Most employees don’t start contributing immediately, anyway. A late-year start date gives them plenty of time to get acclimated before their output is truly needed.

5. ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’… to mix and mingle!

Ramping up in a new role is about more than getting the hang of the job itself. Fitting in — meeting your co-workers, learning who’s who, and familiarizing yourself with the company culture — is a big part of onboarding success

But when your team is remote or hybrid, opportunities for face time are less abundant – except, perhaps, at the end of the year. Q4 hosts a flurry of in-person events, lunches and holiday parties. No matter what traditions your employees celebrate, or how many of them work remotely, year-end is a wonderful time to gather in-person.

All the merrymaking provides a natural opportunity to introduce new employees to the rest of the team (and clients) before everyone retreats into their home offices for the rest of the winter.

This worked well for Brittani Kroog, who kicked off her new remote job as Recruiting & Talent Sourcer at Freeman+Leonard in Q4 of 2021 with an in-person day at the company’s coworking space. “It was great meeting HR, IT and my manager in person, followed by a team lunch. That was a very personable first day,” she says. “Starting in December also meant I got to have social time with everyone for the holidays, which was so nice.”

Getting bumped to January means missing out on the casual team bonding and personal connections that Q4 onboarding affords. (Plus, your Q4 new hires will get to be in on the holiday party inside jokes in January, instead of feeling even more like an outsider.)

It’s not too late to add to your team in 2022.

Whether you’re thinking about pausing an active search or delaying a new search for the next couple of months, we encourage you to think again. 

We see it every year — employers who continue to recruit in November and December have an edge over those who don’t. 

The marketing and advertising talent experts at Freeman+Leonard can help you with your search and onboarding process year-round. The hiring landscape is still competitive, but strong candidates enter the job market daily. Strike while the iron is hot, and don’t miss your chance to tap the advantages of Q4 onboarding. 

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

Get in touch with a Freeman+Leonard consultant today:

Why more employers should offer remote work (and what to do if you can’t)

Why more employers should offer remote work (and what to do if you can’t)

As pandemic restrictions have eased, many employers have announced their intent to bring their workers back to the office. 

At Freeman+Leonard, we’re already seeing a sharp increase in the number of hiring managers writing in-office attendance requirements into their job descriptions. In our view, attitudes about remote work clearly have shifted among many corporate leaders over the past few months.

But on the talent side, nothing has changed since the beginning of the pandemic. When we present candidates with an opportunity, location flexibility is still the first or second question they ask about the role. Globally, only 20% of workers prefer being in the office full-time, and 55% of knowledge workers would prefer working fewer than three days a week in the office.

Clearly, there are mismatched expectations between marketing, advertising and creative talent and the companies that hire them.

Many reasons exist why a company might want its workers in the office. Some marketing roles simply require a physical presence to perform them, like print, photography and film production. And while most leaders agree that productivity increases with remote work, the general consensus seems to be that innovation suffers when people don’t gather in person.

About two-thirds – 66% – of workers say they prefer a hybrid model, and we’ve seen that most candidates are happy to spend at least a day or two per week in the office. The value of meeting and collaborating in person isn’t lost on them, either. But most now draw the line at a strict Monday-through-Friday attendance policy. In fact, 37% of workers would be willing to take a 10% pay cut to avoid such a policy.

Beyond the comfort and convenience of working from home (and the hours saved on commutes), 33% of workers are still moderately or very concerned about their risk of COVID-19 exposure. The pandemic isn’t over, after all – but even if it were, our previously casual, even cavalier attitude about germ exposure is probably not coming back anytime soon.

Companies that allow remote work see benefits, too – even those that can’t opt out of the overhead cost of physical office space.

And this isn’t just about keeping the workers you already have – it’s also about attracting top candidates to your company in the first place. Drawing from a deeper talent pool is just one of the many advantages companies enjoy when they remain location-flexible. By looking outside your own backyard, you could score a rock star from a bigger market, or have a much easier time finding a multi-skilled unicorn or highly niched needle in a haystack.

And so, we urge hiring managers who can offer even some degree of flexibility to do so. 

Like it or not, it’s still a candidate’s market.

Top marketing professionals aren’t settling for jobs that don’t offer at least some location flexibility. And in this candidate’s market, they don’t have to. They’ll simply pass, or find new jobs at companies that do. In fact, 70% of knowledge workers globally will be looking for a new job if they’re not happy with the level of flexibility their current employer offers.

Clearly, it will take more than a mandate to get high-performing employees to actually leave their home offices for a sea of cubicles — no matter how important in-person work may be to their employers.

We must incentivize a return to office for employees, not just command it.

If your company requires in-office attendance, the odds will be stacked against you when you’re ready to hire your next employee – but there are still ways to make your company attractive to new hires. Here’s what we recommend.

1. Make the office somewhere people want to be.

AT&T was ahead of the curve when they built the Discovery District: an urban center in downtown Dallas with water fountains, lawn space, interactive art and, of course, plenty of dining options and outdoor dining tables. 

In a Dallas Morning News article, AT&T CEO John Stankey credited this office oasis and the social opportunities it provides for helping to bring employees physically back together. “They want that social interaction,” Stankey said. “And we’ve created an environment that allows them to have that extended work life.”

Don’t have a $100 million dollar budget to build a new urban facility? There are many ways to energize your environment and make the workplace fun and enjoyable. 

  • Make sure your office has plenty of areas for people to eat lunch together and socialize. 
  • If your office is outdated, give it a facelift with fresh paint and modern office furniture.
  • Encourage employees to form social groups, and sponsor outings and happy hours. 
  • You could even let workers bring their dogs to the office, all the time or on certain days.

Essentially, give them the very best of office life when they’re onsite, so that it’s obvious what they miss by working from home.

2. Offer perks they can get only in the office.

Companies are paying extra attention these days to the perks and benefits they offer. With rising salaries and a tight job market, every little competitive advantage helps. But if there are some perks your team can  take advantage of only at the office, it’s a win-win. You’re adding value to their lives while encouraging attendance.

From chef-catered meals to childcare, a state-of-the-art gym to onsite medical services, what benefits can you give your team that they can receive only when they’re onsite? Don’t be punitive about it – this is about adding perks that, by their very nature, must be enjoyed in-person.

3. Be flexible where you can – especially about work hours.

Even if your company can’t embrace remote (or even hybrid) work, there are other ways to add flexibility to many marketing and advertising roles. Relaxing the specific hours certain employees must be in the office is an easy one. Many professionals simply do their best work at different times of the day, and family and childcare commitments can make it difficult to follow a strict business-hours schedule.

Besides, we all carry the internet in our pockets now. The lines between home and work are inherently blurred. There’s no need to expect perfect punctuality when many are likely putting in overtime at home anyway. Be flexible about what time you expect people to arrive or leave and focus more on the work itself.

4. Reward outcomes, not attendance.

“Presenteeism” is as much of a risk as absenteeism or attrition for all companies, but especially those without location flexibility. Simply commuting and showing up to an office after years of not being required to can feel like a monumental effort for many of your employees. If they’re not enthusiastic about the change, their motivation is likely to plunge. All of this is a recipe for lower productivity, even among your star employees.

To combat “presenteeism,” do everything you can to combat the idea that being present is all that matters.

Instead, emphasize performance and measurable outcomes. Ensure expectations are clear and benchmarks and targets are well understood. Help employees see the “why” behind their work. Encourage their own development, and cheer them on as they navigate challenges. And most important, reward them often for their accomplishments with quarterly and surprise bonuses, gifts and recognition.

You may still be requiring your workers to come in, but at least they’ll know how you really want them to show up.

5. Offer “focus days” and limit unnecessary meetings.

The modern workplace is filled with distractions – especially workplaces with open floor plans. A commonly cited reason our candidates prefer working from home is that they simply focus better there. On top of that, a calendar packed with seemingly endless meetings can make real productivity impossible.

So take after tech companies like Airtable and Asana.

At Airtable, one day per month is declared a “recharge day,” where taking calls and checking email are discouraged. They also have “focus weeks,” which limit internal meetings so employees can focus on their actual work duties. At Asana, “No-Meeting Wednesdays” is a longstanding tradition. Everyone agrees to not schedule meetings – unless absolutely necessary – in the middle of the week, allowing everyone at least one day where they know they can buckle down and get into the zone.

6. Allow remote work in structured doses.

Maybe you need everybody there at the same time most of the time. Or, perhaps your company struggles with hybrid models where it’s harder to predict exactly when people will or won’t be together.

But with a little structure, you can still offer location flexibility without totally disrupting your broader team’s productivity and workflows.

At Google, employees are offered four “work from anywhere” weeks per year. That may sound extreme, but longer periods of time can actually be easier to adapt to than individual days here and there. And with a little coordination, you can minimize the impact on key clients or campaigns, and ensure no two team members are remote at the same time.

7. Reduce the workweek.

Many advertising agencies have long offered “Summer Fridays,” with employees encouraged to take Fridays off or leave early for the weekend during slower summer months. 

Now, startups like Basecamp and Buffer are on four-day workweeks – some seasonally, some year-round. These companies say they’ve seen no noticeable shift in productivity. (Maybe we’re not all that productive on Fridays anyway…)

Sound like a fantasy? Considering the changes we’ve already endured over the past few years, maybe not. The future of work is here, and ready to be shaped by today’s leaders. If your company must be firm about in-office attendance, what other rules about work can it break instead? 

If shortening the workweek isn’t within your power, there may be other ways you can help give your team a little extra downtime, like encouraging them to take off a little early on Fridays if their work for the week is done.

8. Give your employees more PTO.

If none of these options is available to you, the only other way your team will be able to get out of the office is to actually take time off. 

Giving your employees a little more paid time off than they’d have gotten otherwise may be enough of a concession to keep them around as you transition back to the office. Don’t be surprised if top candidates negotiate for more PTO as a result of your in-office requirements, too.

Remember: The carrot is more persuasive than the stick.

Even if onsite attendance isn’t negotiable, you can still make it worth employees’ while. When they feel appreciated and enjoy sharing a physical space, it’s evident to every candidate who walks through your doors.

Before making your next hire, reach out to the talent experts at Freeman+Leonard. We’re more than just a staffing firm — we’re a marketing solutions company, with deep expertise in the marketing and advertising industry and a consultative approach to client relationships. To deliver world-class marketing for your brand, we’ll help you determine who you need, and how you need them – then craft a compelling job description and compensation package to attract the strongest candidates for each role.

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

Get in touch with a Freeman+Leonard consultant today:

17 unique job perks and benefits to attract and retain top marketing talent

17 unique job perks and benefits to attract and retain top marketing talent

In today’s hot job market, it takes more than a great salary to win over top marketing and advertising talent. Many companies – whether to differentiate themselves to top candidates, offset a slightly less-competitive salary, or incentivize their workers to return to the office (rather than simply require that they do) – are getting much more creative with the benefits and perks they offer.

As you consider which benefits to offer your workers, or which perks to add to your own job-search wish list, be inspired by these innovative employers. 

1. Fully paid health and dental plan premiums

While there’s nothing new or unusual about offering health insurance to your workers, we’re seeing more companies offer fully paid premiums for low-deductible health, dental and vision insurance.

For example, Airtable, a SaaS company based in Austin, pays 100% of its employees’ health and dental plan premiums, among many other perks. 

This trend is spreading to the advertising world. We know of several Dallas-based independent agencies, including Arm Candy, that cover health insurance at 100% for employees as well as their family members, including health, dental and vision, and even life insurance.

2. Unlimited and mandated PTO

At Airtable, there is no formal vacation policy, but employees are encouraged to take at least a minimum amount of PTO, usually between three and five weeks. And at Dropbox, employees are allowed to take up to four consecutive weeks off per year, fully paid.

Though Netflix was among the first to offer unlimited PTO, the popularity of this perk has certainly grown. But just because a vacation policy is generous doesn’t mean people will feel comfortable in actually taking the time off.

So at Arm Candy, PTO is not only unlimited, it’s mandatory. A minimum of 15 days off per year is required to even be considered for promotions and raises.

3. More frequent performance and compensation reviews

One tech company in Austin with an already generous PTO policy encourages their highest-performing employees to take even more paid time off. But how do you know if you’re one of them? Easy. Performance reviews take place every six months instead of just once per year – so you always know where you stand, and what to improve on.

And they’re not just performance reviews, but compensation reviews: In addition to confirmation of that extra PTO permission slip, high-performing employees can generally expect a raise every six months.

4. Stock options and bonuses

Financial compensation can come in many forms. Companies unable to offer highly competitive salaries can make up for this with other financial incentives.

One employer in Texas offers Restricted Stock Units at onboarding, with the opportunity to earn additional RSUs every six months based on performance reviews. RSUs are also randomly awarded based on company performance.

And at Arm Candy, bonuses are paid quarterly rather than annually (or not at all), so employees have more frequent rewards for their hard work.

5. Flexible work hours and location

Overall, we’re seeing more employers emphasizing performance and measurable outcomes rather than the number of hours their workers spend in a physical office – or even log at home.

At Google, employees are offered PTO as well as four “work from anywhere” weeks per year. The rest of the year, employees enjoy a hybrid model allowing two work-from-home days per week for most roles.

But even if your company isn’t willing or able to embrace remote or even hybrid work, there are still ways to keep workers happy, like offering more PTO, sabbaticals or flexible work hours. After all, many of us are still working or online even after business hours, anyway.

6. No-meeting days and 4-day weeks

Regardless of where a workday is spent, it’s often full of distractions and meetings. It’s one thing for managers to encourage more-focused work time for their teams, or better time management techniques, and quite another to require it, and then create the structure to enable it. 

At Airtable, one day per month is declared a “recharge day,” where taking calls and checking email are discouraged. They also have “focus weeks,” which limit internal meetings so employees can focus on their actual work duties. At Asana, “No-Meeting Wednesdays” is a longstanding tradition.

Many advertising agencies for a long time have offered “Summer Fridays,” with employees encouraged to take Fridays off or leave early for the weekend. Now, tech startups like Basecamp and Buffer are on four-day work weeks – some year-round.

7. Paid parental and family leave

While there’s nothing new about maternity leave, historically it’s been paid out by short-term disability plans based on a percentage of the employee’s salary. Recently we’ve seen a greater number of employers offer fully paid leave for any employees who’ve recently welcomed a child into their home.

More companies are expanding this type of leave to meet a variety of family care-giving needs. Deloitte offers 16 weeks of PTO to “bond with a child as a result of birth or placement for adoption and/or to care for a spouse/domestic partner, parent, child, and/or sibling with a serious health condition.”

There are many ways to show you’re a family-friendly workplace. Independent agency PMG gives all new parents a $250 gift card to spend on diapers or anything else needed – PMG even temporarily turns off new parents’ email and Slack access while they’re on leave.

8. Health and wellness perks

There are more options than just insurance for promoting employee health and wellness. One Austin-based tech company offers a “digital” wallet funded at $200 a month for pre-approved items like fitness equipment and personal training sessions. Money can accumulate and be used anytime. A second digital wallet is funded with $1,000 for other wellness benefits, including mental health counseling, which must be used within the year.

Deloitte offers a well-being subsidy of up to $1,000 per year for qualifying well-being expenses. 

9. Fertility and family-building benefits

More and more companies now offer fertility and family-planning benefits, either through their health insurance plans or specialized benefits providers like Carrot and Progyny. In 2021, FertilityIQ discovered an 8% increase in the number of large companies (across multiple verticals) who had introduced new fertility or family-building benefits or enhanced existing benefits.

10. Child care stipends and backup care centers

It doesn’t take a global pandemic for employers to realize that working parents with reliable child care are more productive. Over the last few years, more companies have begun offering workers child care benefits, including child care stipends and reimbursement, dependent care flexible spending accounts, and backup care centers like those offered by Bright Horizons. USAA, Adobe, Bank of America and others are supporting working parents with childcare benefits. 

11. Professional development and tuition reimbursement

In addition to in-house curriculum and mentorship opportunities like Enterprise’s management training program, many Fortune 500 companies including Google, Bank of America and IBM offer tuition reimbursement for degree programs relevant to an employee’s job, including MBAs and other graduate degrees.

But even on a lesser budget, there are many ways to invest in your employees’ professional development. Paying for certification programs or offering memberships to online course platforms including Coursera allows you to help your employees develop their skills without feeling like you’re sending another kid to college.

On an even smaller scale? We also like Teamwork’s two libraries, stocked with books applicable to various job functions. Totally doable (and makes for great office decor). For a digital option, try Blinkist.

12. Charitable donation matching and volunteer days

Many companies for a long time have offered donation matching and paid time off to volunteer, and we’ve seen this perk increase in popularity over the last few years. Footwear brand Timberland even offers up to 40 hours per year of paid time off to volunteer! 

Helping your workers support causes meaningful to them can foster a sense of community at your company. Plus, compassion and kindness are good for brain health – so you may even find your employees coming back to work feeling less stressed and more productive.

To get started, draft a volunteer time off policy, or reach out to your local United Way to start a Workplace Campaign.

13. Home office expenses

A comfortable home office setup is critical for getting things done in remote and hybrid work models. More employers are offering stipends to their workers for anything they need to focus better at home – from office furniture to extra monitors or computers.

The aforementioned Arm Candy even pays your cell phone bill with a monthly mobile stipend of $125 per month.

14. Discounts and free products

Consumer-facing brands have an advantage on this one. If your company sells a product to consumers, it’s an easy win to offer it to your employees for free, or at big discounts.

The travel industry might’ve pioneered this perk. Employees of many airlines, including Southwest, get unlimited free flights for themselves and their eligible dependents, plus travel discounts and benefits at hotels, rental car companies, theme parks and even other airlines.

A prominent fashion retailer we know gives their employees a product stipend so their staff can wear the current trends and clothes being sold in-store.

Agencies can also negotiate with their consumer-brand clients for deals on discounted merchandise for their employees. Any employer can set up an employee discount portal thanks to platforms like BenefitHub.

15. Fun surprises and gifts

Though not something you’d list as a formal benefit, sending employees random gifts to thank them for a job well done boosts morale.

Rather than logoed tchotchkes and conference swag leftovers, send gifts your employees will actually want and use. One SaaS company in Texas has been known to send to its top performers high-end luggage, North Face clothing and golf equipment.

16. Concierge services and lifestyle benefits

Once reserved for Silicon Valley and high-powered executives and lawyers, time-saving concierge services are becoming more common as a company perk. 

Running errands for employees, maid services, grocery and meal delivery, subscription services and more – employers are offering lifestyle perks to help their team members feel supported while allowing them to focus more on work – and less on the errands and chores of daily life.

17. Dog-friendly office

One of the drawbacks to going back to the office is leaving our four-legged friends behind. Especially those of us who adopted pandemic puppies who, naturally, developed a bit of separation anxiety after their owners had barely left their sides for two years.

Letting your employees bring their dogs to work is an adorable and easy way to boost morale – and for hybrid workers might even boost office attendance.

Benefits can sharpen your competitive advantage

Despite the variety of perks offered, all these employers have one thing in common: They understand the market forces driving candidates’ choices, and they’ve found ways to ensure those forces work in their favor. And – they listened to what workers said they wanted, knowing their people are their best asset and competitive advantage.

Whether remote or in-office, few people will take one job over another purely based on fringe perks, but they do increase the overall perceived value of compensation packages. And when employers put time and effort toward crafting generous benefits packages, they also send a message to candidates that they are valued. Ultimately, they’ve made it easier for high-performing employees to say yes to staying at their company, or joining in the first place. We applaud their innovative thinking, and we encourage more employers to do the same.

Before making your next hire, reach out to the talent experts at Freeman+Leonard. We’re more than just a staffing firm — we’re a marketing solutions company, with deep expertise in the marketing and advertising industry and a consultative approach to client relationships. To deliver world-class marketing for your brand, we’ll help you determine who you need, and how you need them – then craft a compelling job description and compensation package to attract the strongest candidates for each role.

Ready to find your next great hire? Use the contact form below to reach out and start a conversation, no strings attached.

Get in touch with a Freeman+Leonard consultant today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

We asked them:

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

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

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

Here’s what our CMOs recommend.

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

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

Align and prioritize

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

Analyze performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reduce vendor spending

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reduce nonessential travel and conferences

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

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

Don’t reduce ad spend if you can help it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Realign your headcount.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Repurpose and reuse existing assets.

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

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

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

Rebalancing is key.

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

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

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

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

Get in touch with a Freeman+Leonard consultant today:

5 steps to a stellar LinkedIn profile summary

5 steps to a stellar LinkedIn profile summary

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

So, what gives?

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

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

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

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

The cover letter is officially dead. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell a story that connects the dots. 

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

Make your profile summary as distinctive and captivating as possible. 

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

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

2. Work the algorithm. 

“You appeared in 3 searches this week.” 

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

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

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

It’s as simple as that. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Put your personality on full display. 

Remember, people hire people.

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

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

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

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

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

4. Show them you’re the G.O.A.T. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Add a call to action.

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

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

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

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

All of this — but keep it short!

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

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

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

Not sure if your LinkedIn profile summary measures up? 

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


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

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

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

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

1. Get the ball rolling on building rapport.

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

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

2. Make analog connections IRL and offline.

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

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

3. Become their biggest advocate.

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

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

4. Be an open book.

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

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

5. Bring them into the mix.

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

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

6. Show some grace.

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

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

7. Offer generous feedback.

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

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

Welcome new hires home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Show up as the solution to their woes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Focus on what you were hired to do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations on your new job!

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

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