#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 freemanleonard.com/lovethylabor.

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

#LoveThyLabor: Elevating the temporary workforce

#LoveThyLabor: Elevating the temporary workforce

As the pandemic has taken its toll on businesses of all types, many companies have had to restructure both departments and resources to react to changing profitability realities. Accordingly, many agencies and marketing departments have shifted to a higher utilization of seasonal or temporary staffing resources.

As convenient as temporary employees may be, there can be disadvantages. For the worker, benefits are almost unheard of. Meanwhile, it can be difficult for companies to find top-tier talent on a temporary basis.

At Freeman+Leonard, we’re working to create better engagements for both the employer and the employee.

We offer benefits to many eligible temporary workers (a rarity in the staffing world), including medical, paid holidays and even vacation. And our clients enjoy access to seasoned temporary workers with specialized talent in a variety of marketing and advertising roles.

The “gig economy” is changing the way many companies work, and the models they’re moving towards. Whether this is a direction your company has moved in, or something you’re considering, it’s imperative to support these teammates in ways that keep them viable and content. Don't hesitate to reach out to me or my team directly for strategies to strengthen and elevate your temporary workforce.

💡 Suggestion on how YOU can Love Thy Labor:

One way to provide non-traditional benefits to both temporary and full-time employees is by negotiating corporate discounts at local retailers, restaurants and services to offer to your teammates. Explore companies like 24 Hour Fitness, 20% Meals or Meal Plans. For more ideas and inspiration, visit corporateoffers.com.

For more ideas on how to show your workers the love, head to freemanleonard.com/lovethylabor.

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

#LoveThyLabor: Embracing the realities of a remote workforce

#LoveThyLabor: Embracing the realities of a remote workforce

As we continue to try to forecast what a return to normalcy looks like for companies and agencies, one thing is for sure: increasingly, the future workforce will work from many different places.

Freeman+Leonard has always been at the forefront of redefining traditional office work spaces, as we ourselves have been an early adopter and promoter of marketing and advertising talent whose engagements haven’t necessarily allowed or required an in-office presence. (Our own team also permanently made the shift to a fully-remote workplace.)

Forbes has released a new study documenting the expectations and realities of this new generation of labor: 

  • 74% of professionals expect work-from-home to become standard
  • 97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full-time
  • 61% of employees prefer being fully remote

If you’re reimagining how to structure and motivate an increasingly remote team, feel free to give me or anyone at Freeman+Leonard a call. We’ve been staffing and structuring remote resources and teams for years, and have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. 

We also recommend checking out Remote Work Revolution by Tsedal Neely. This book discusses how to build trust and connection with employees who work from afar. It contains some truly great advice and blueprints on how to structure and engage with your teams when fewer are in the same space as you are.

💡 Suggestion on how YOU can Love Thy Labor:

As employees spend more and more time working from their homes, many find that they lack certain amenities that they previously had in traditional office settings. Whether they’re now skipping lunches, engaging in fewer conversations, navigating new technologies required for communications, or simply finding comfort in a makeshift office, employees today are looking for ways to reimagine their own home offices. 

One way you might help your teams design better ways to work from home is to provide small comforts that enhance the feng shui of their new spaces. The House Plant Box is a plant subscription service that allows recipients to experience different natural touches to any home office, providing calming and relaxing stimuli to those transitioning their work realities.

For more ideas on how to show your workers the love, head to freemanleonard.com/lovethylabor.

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,
Kathleen Leonard
President & CMO

#LoveThyLabor: Celebrating women in the workforce

#LoveThyLabor: Celebrating women in the workforce

Certainly, Labor Day is a celebration of all workers’ rights and progress, but it’s also a timely reminder of the continued struggle for women to achieve workplace equality. It should be a commitment to the inclusion of women in the workplace, at all levels; to recognize and remedy income disparity based on gender; and to acknowledge that the fight for women’s workplace equality is not just a women’s issue.

As a 100% women-owned business, Freeman+Leonard invites you to take time during Labor Day Week to consider how far women have come, and also how far we still have to go.

As a gift for many of our friends and clients, we will be sharing one of our favorite reads at the moment, Lead: How Women In Charge Claim Their Authority, by Ellen M. Snee.

We're also encouraging our community to follow these 50 amazing women leading the charge in our industry. From entrepreneurs to executives, these pioneers regularly share inspiring words and wisdom on the contributions we make every day.

💡 Suggestion on how YOU can Love Thy Labor:

Today’s workers are more anxiety-ridden than ever before. The balance of work and life in an environment that seems to change every day has taken its toll on workers across the country. The mobile app Calm offers programs and sessions designed to relieve stress, and to help you find balance through daily exercises. Calm offers group rates as low as $10 per employee for a year’s subscription. Consider signing up your team for more moments of solace.

For more ideas on how to show your workers the love, head to freemanleonard.com/lovethylabor.

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

#LoveThyLabor: Show some love to your workers this Labor Day week

Introducing #LoveThyLabor: A Freeman+Leonard week-long celebration

At Freeman+Leonard, we see Labor Day as a pretty important holiday.

On this day, the entire nation recognizes and honors workers’ contributions to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. Since President Grover Cleveland proclaimed the first Monday of every September a national holiday, our country has rallied together, in good times and bad, to celebrate the fundamental backbone of our society and culture.

As marketing talent matchmakers, we work with smart, talented professionals to fulfill the marketing and advertising needs of our clients in new and innovative ways.

On Labor Day, we honor them and all those working Americans whose energy and tireless efforts create so much of the nation’s strength, freedom and leadership.

The past 18 months have presented a tremendous challenge to our workforce and our employers, locally and nationally. The pandemic and its evolving effect on our communities has certainly strengthened our collective resolve, but it’s also battered employees, business norms and the future of labor as we know it.

To show our appreciation (or more apropos, our Love) of labor, all week long we’re going to share our perspectives on how to better #LoveThyLabor.

That includes thoughts on the different facets of today’s labor force, recommendations on ways you can learn more about the many ways we can improve, and suggestions on little things you and your organization can do to show your teams more love and support during these chaotic times.

For the full scoop, head to freemanleonard.com/lovethylabor

We invite you to join in our celebration of labor. 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

How marketers and creatives can stand out in today's competitive job market

How marketers and creatives can stand out in today's competitive job market

With marketing and advertising talent in high demand across the country, it’s a good time to be in this field, no matter where you live — especially if you’re open to opportunities.

Companies are hungry for marketing talent, particularly for roles that help them stay competitive in a digital-first world. But with talent supply not rising to meet demand, employers are offering higher and higher salaries, even for junior roles.

In a candidate’s market, the balance of power has shifted into the hands of talent. But that doesn’t mean the process of searching for and landing a new job has become easier. In fact, the market has become even more competitive for jobseekers. Why?

With higher salaries come higher expectations. 

Companies investing top dollar for marketing talent are expecting top performers in return. Meanwhile, the recent proliferation of remote work means employers’ candidate pools have widened significantly. As a result, candidates are no longer competing only against others in their own city or metro area.

Marketers must now compete on a national stage, even for local jobs.

“You could be competing against a rock star from New York and Los Angeles, even for a job in Dallas,” said Kathy Leonard, President and CMO of Freeman+Leonard. “So candidates really need to step up their game to compete for the best jobs — especially those in smaller markets.”

Like it or not, the bar is higher. Here’s how we’re advising talent who want to stand out in this competitive job market.

Polish up your online presence with a professional website.

As a marketer, how you choose to market yourself is itself a demonstration of your skills. And that’s no longer just about your resume. Employers are Googling candidates, and those with less impressive online presences are less likely to make the cut.

“If you can't market yourself, that's a red flag right off the bat,” advised Ashley Allen, Sr. Manager, Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “Building your online presence, and really making sure it looks sharp, is one of the first things we advise.”

“I love to see nice professional websites, beyond LinkedIn,” Ashley continued. “It shows you’re a committed and serious professional that you took the extra step to brand yourself, and that you’re digitally savvy.”

“They’re also just convenient as a single place to showcase your portfolio and writing samples, and of course you can include a link to download your resume,” Ashley noted.

Candidates interested in making a professional website don’t need to spend a lot of money to do so, or have web-design skills. No-code website builders like Squarespace and Wix are easy to learn and inexpensive.

Don’t forget to buy a custom domain name for your website, too. Without one, your professional website will have a long and cumbersome Squarespace or Wix URL. Claiming a domain name that’s easy to remember, like your first and last name, puts the finishing touch on that first impression.

Emphasize digital work in your creative portfolio 

If your specialization is at all creative in nature, employers are expecting to see an online portfolio with a broad range of work samples. This applies not just to art direction, design, video, or copywriting, but also to social media roles.

“They’re barely looking at a resume when it comes to the creatives,” Ashley noted. “Our clients just go straight to the portfolio and will often request an interview just from that.”

More and more, however, we’re seeing clients emphasize digital samples. Ashley advised that at least 3-5 digital samples (work created for digital media) should be in any creative’s portfolio.

Level up your LinkedIn profile.

Whether or not you choose to create a professional website, recruiters and hiring managers are expecting your LinkedIn profile to be in top form.

“LinkedIn is the first place I go when someone applies for a job. Make sure your profile is fully finished, with a professional headshot,” advised Ashley. She also stressed that a good headshot doesn’t have to cost money. A professional-looking headshot can be taken with any modern smartphone camera.

“Ideally your LinkedIn photo will be a clear and professional-looking portrait. Not a photo taken in a car, or at a party, or any shot where you’ve had to crop someone else’s head out of the photo.” Yes, this still happens!

As for the rest of your profile, mirror your resume, and emphasize your accomplishments at each position, rather than merely listing out your job responsibilities.

Ashley strongly advised optimizing your profile for search by including keywords for the positions you’re open to and the skills you offer. These can be included in the “About” section of your profile and in your headline.

LinkedIn also has a setting that lets recruiters and hiring managers know you’re actively looking for jobs, even without displaying anything on your profile. With this setting activated, your profile will show up in a different search and put you on the radar of hiring managers and recruiters.

Don’t forget about social proof! “If you don’t have any recommendations on your profile, reach out to past coworkers and bosses to ask if they’ll write a recommendation for you,” Ashley advised. “And be sure to write some for others, too. If you’ve only received them but never given any, we’ve seen employers be turned off by that.”

When asking for a recommendation, provide your connection with specific suggestions for what to mention about your time working together. That way, they’re not staring at a blank page as they attempt to write, and you’re more likely to get a recommendation that’s truly useful for your current job search.

Tailor your resume for each job you apply for.

While your LinkedIn profile will present to the world a single image of your experience, your resume should be more tailored and customized for each position you apply for. 

While this has always been good advice, Ashley now considers a tailored resume to be the price of entry, as hiring managers have become more selective. Today, a generalized resume that doesn’t speak exactly to the open role almost certainly will be passed over.

“Employers are being very picky, and not just about skillset,” said Ashley. “They all want very specific industry experience. If it’s an agency role with a CPG client, someone could have 10 or 15 years of agency experience, but if they don't have CPG experience, the employer will move on. It’s the same with client-side roles. They'll wait for someone who has it all.”

Be specific and direct with recruiters early on.

Employers know that the more specific they are about what they want, the more likely they are to get it. Ashley recommends that candidates adopt the same approach.

“The more information we get upfront about what a jobseeker is and isn’t willing to consider, the more it helps us home in on roles that could be a fit,” Ashley suggested. 

“We appreciate when candidates are very upfront about their requirements: They have to stay in Dallas, or be remote, or they have to be in a particular salary range, with a particular title or seniority level,” Ashley continued. “It speeds up the process on our end, because we’re not going to waste their time with positions that don’t meet that criteria.”

Write a bio or elevator pitch.

Being specific about what you’re looking for helps your recruiter help you in that initial search process. But having a professional bio written and ready to go is also key to helping recruiters pitch you for your desired roles.

“Our approach to talent matchmaking is very hands-on,” said Andrea Tipton, EVP, Marketing & Consulting Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “Rather than throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks, we deliver only a handful of the best-matched candidates to our clients — often just 2 or 3 in the initial round.”

And those presentations include much more than a resume, a salary range and a link to your portfolio or LinkedIn profile. “When we present a candidate, we include a nice write-up describing why they’re a fit for the position,” Ashley said, “and highlight their most relevant experience and work samples.”

Having that information ready to go, even provided in the application stage, is a game-changer for a busy recruiter.

“We have a really high success rate of securing interviews for talent because we’re matching exactly the skillset that clients asked for,” Ashley noted. “You can increase your chances of being one of those interviewees if you help your recruiter pitch you to the client.”

Having a bio or elevator pitch ready to go benefits you in the interview stage, too. If you’ve already written a few key statements about what you bring to the table for an employer, it becomes that much easier to recite when discussing an opportunity in an interview — or a networking event.

Show off your personality.

We’re also seeing employers ask more off-topic questions to help get a better sense of a candidate’s personality. With so many interviews taking place now over Zoom, hiring managers are searching for ways to get to know candidates better without meeting in person.

“I’ve sat in on interviews where the client asked the candidate personal questions to learn more about their personality and interests. Questions like, ‘What do you like to do in your free time?’ or, ‘What are you reading right now?,’” Ashley said. “They’ve even asked what was in their Netflix queue. So I prep talent for this in advance, advising them to show their personality and be ready to speak about themselves personally.”

Without a sense of the candidate’s personality and life outside of work, employers may have more difficulty assessing whether they’d be a good fit for the team or company culture. This can make them less confident about making an offer.

“The resume could be a perfect fit, but if the client can’t get a read on the candidate as a person, they’ll likely pass,” Ashley added.

Feature your specialized credentials and certifications.

More and more employers are looking for a high degree of specialization — and the credentials to prove it.

“It won’t usually be listed as a requirement, but certifications are so important for standing out,” Ashley said. “Having just traditional marketing experience on your resume isn’t going to cut it. You need digital skills, too.”

Where digital is concerned, the credential matters — especially for candidates whose resumes or portfolios don’t make their digital expertise obvious, or who went to school before digital marketing degrees existed. 

“You can easily go get digital certifications to get some new knowledge under your belt,” Ashley advised. “SMU has a great digital certification program, and there are plenty of courses through LinkedIn Learning. Some programs are as short as six weeks.”

At Freeman+Leonard, we’ve seen a huge uptick in requests for UX/UI designers in particular. This is a specialization that many creatives, including art directors and designers, can easily add to boost their earning power and marketability. 

Regardless of how deep your current digital expertise is, there’s always something new to learn — and more and more, hiring managers are asking for a unique mix of digital skills. The more knowledge you bring to the table, the more you can potentially earn.

If you’ve already taken some courses, even on LinkedIn Learning, be sure to add them to your LinkedIn profile and highlight them in your resume, along with the year you took them.

Highlight any management, leadership or speaking experience.

If your current or past roles have involved managing a team, presenting to clients, or leading workshops, you’ll want to emphasize this to potential employers.

“Employers aren’t just looking for the skillset itself — they also want candidates who have management experience or leadership skills,” Ashley said. 

This is because higher salaries are creating higher expectations. Employers who pay more for talent often also expect an entrepreneurial mindset — confident team members who will take initiative, whether that involves directly managing others or just speaking and presenting effectively.

“Our agency clients especially want to hire people who can be client-facing, and present their work, in addition to managing a team or managing creatives,” Ashley added.

No matter what your next employer is looking for, or how competitive the market, a talent expert can help you put your best foot forward. 

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

Fewer candidates than you may realize take the time to personally follow up — and to us, it’s a sign of a highly marketable trait: initiative.

Where will your career take you next? 

We have a few ideas for you at: jobs.freemanleonard.com

How to successfully onboard new remote employees

How to successfully onboard new remote employees

First impressions are everything for a new employee joining your team. The experience your new team member has in their first few days can impact the rest of their time with your company.

“A good onboarding experience can make the difference between a candidate who leaves and one who stays,” explained Kathy Leonard, President & CMO of Freeman+Leonard.

But onboarding is much more than just the first day at work, with the equipment setup, the introductions, and so on.

“Onboarding is a broad term that really defines how a company pulls a new employee into their environment, their team and their culture,“ Leonard continued. “That's much more challenging in a remote world, obviously, than if you're physically there.”

“When onboarding remotely, you have to be more intentional about that first impression,” agreed Andrea Tipton, EVP, Marketing & Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “It takes more proactive planning to keep them excited about the role. It doesn’t matter what level you are; the onboarding experience makes a difference.”

Here’s how we’ve been advising our clients to set up their new remote hires for success:

Start communicating with your new hire before their first day.

Don’t wait until a new employee’s first day to begin the onboarding process — start sharing information and begin setting them up for success ahead of time.

“If a new hire doesn’t hear from their hiring manager until the day they’re starting, they can start to feel a little disconnected,” explained Andrea Campbell, Account Manager, Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard.

“Be in touch regularly on the front end,” agreed Lisa Foster, Sr. Director, Client Services at Freeman+Leonard. “Make sure they have everything they need before they start, and that their equipment is in place.”

Use this early communication to set expectations about their role and your remote work policies.

“Remote workers are expected to be more independent and organized, but not every new hire is used to that,” explained Campbell. “Start setting those expectations early, and consider helping them by providing organizational tools at home, like white boards.”

“Setting those expectations gets your new hire engaged faster, and the faster they’re engaged, the faster you’ll get results,” Tipton agreed.

Plan something special to welcome them on their first day.

Everyone enjoys feeling appreciated and celebrated, and planning a surprise will help your new employee start their first day off on the right foot.

“Consider sending a welcome gift to your new employee’s home on their first day to help them feel more included,” advised Campbell.

“Send flowers on the first day,” Tipton suggested, “or goodies that everyone loves, like Tiff’s Treats.”

Map out their first week in advance.

To ensure your new employee has a good experience, don’t leave their schedule to chance. Structure is helpful, especially for those trying to get a grasp of their new role while working from home.

“We like to have a new hire’s entire first week mapped out, to the hour, including who they’re meeting with, and even who they’re having lunch with each day, if they’re not fully remote,” explained Tipton.

“Just make sure you have a plan,” Tipton continued. “Day one can be a little crazy, so you don’t want to wing it.”

Schedule time to get to know new teammates.

Getting to know new coworkers can be a little more difficult for a new remote employee, so help them jump-start the process.

“You want your new employees to feel like they've joined a team and are being embraced into a new culture — and to see that everybody is really excited and happy they’re there,” Tipton advised.

“Give them a cheat sheet with photos, titles and contact info for their coworkers,” Tipton continued. “And assign them a buddy, so they have a peer to turn to for questions; not just their boss, who they may not want to bother with the small stuff.”

If you can, meet in person for a team lunch or happy hour.

“If an in-person meet-and-greet is a possibility, pencil-in a team happy hour or lunch for their first day or week so they have the opportunity to meet folks face-to-face,” said Foster.

“You could even meet in person to hand off their computer,” Lisa continued.

If not, “Schedule in a virtual happy hour so that everyone can get to know the new person a little better,” suggested Rosemary Salfiti, VP, Client Services at Freeman+Leonard..

Provide training on new systems and tools.

Every new job comes with new technology and processes to learn. Fortunately, training someone remotely is easier than ever.

“With Zoom, everyone’s so used to screen sharing that it’s just as easy to be onboarded remotely as it is in person,” Campbell said.

“It can actually be more informative, because you see everything right on your own screen,” Andrea continued, “versus just being in the room with someone and having to look over their shoulder.”

Record your Zoom training sessions so new employees can go back and watch again, and document your processes with quick tutorials.

“Having something to reference can help people learn a new system faster and make fewer mistakes,” Andrea Campbell explained. “It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a quick screen grab with a little note.”

Make yourself available and schedule frequent check-ins.

Even with a buddy system and team introductions, it’s easy for remote workers to feel more isolated than they would in an office setting. New employees want interaction with the person who hired them, especially if they’re more junior.

60% of the Gen Z workforce wants multiple check-ins per week from their boss,” Foster explained. “They really want that connection, for someone to check in on them.”

“It can be hard to get the mentorship you’re looking for when you’re by yourself all the time,” Salfiti added.

More than anything, Tipton advised, “Don’t forget that they’re new, and don’t forget to include them.”

“I’m a fan of what I like to call the ‘long hallways’ approach,” Tipton said. “You may not be sitting in the same building together, but you have to make it feel like you are.”

“If you want a new hire to integrate nicely, you have to make yourself available,” Tipton continued. “If you’re too busy to onboard them, you’re going to lose them. And then you’ll be right back where you were, trying to find someone else to replace them.”

Are you building a remote or hybrid team?

Grab our new Remote Onboarding Checklist to get all of these tips in a printable 1-page PDF.

Click on the image to view and download the PDF:

How our team shifted to a fully remote workplace

How our team shifted to a fully remote workplace

As the world returns to something resembling normalcy and workplaces reopen, many companies and their employees are realizing that we have an opportunity to rethink the status quo — and reimagine the future of work.

For all of us at Freeman+Leonard, that has meant embracing some of the changes that enabled us to succeed during the pandemic, despite incredible upheaval.

Though working from home seemed like a temporary solution, we recently decided to make it permanent.

When our 15+ year lease in an office tower near the Galleria in Dallas drew near its end, we decided not only to not renew it, but to not seek out a new space.

After all, why would we? Sales are up. Productivity is up. Morale is up. And there’s very little we can’t do from an internet connection and a laptop.

“The interesting thing for our team is they’d have negotiated for work-from-home days over vacation days,” said Kathy Leonard, President and CMO of Freeman+Leonard. “And even the talent we place are often willing to take less base pay for the ability to work from home.”

The benefits for employees are clear. “The flexibility and money saved from not having to commute, from lunches out to work clothes to the wear and tear on your car, are a big plus — but it also just makes people more efficient,” Kathy continued.

And that efficiency is translating to more output for the business, not less.

“Our productivity is at an all-time high because we enjoy working from home and having that more flexible lifestyle. And the reduced expenses and lower overhead contribute to higher profitability,”  Kathy shared.

The writing was on the wall: The future of work is here, and for Freeman+Leonard, it doesn’t include walls. At least not cubicle walls.

With that, we left in the dust our old way of working, and haven’t looked back.

One year later, we’ve learned a lot about how to succeed with remote work. Though the shift is a strong net-positive and a no-brainer for our team, that doesn’t mean it’s been without its challenges.

Here are the lessons we’ve learned over the past year about how to successfully operate in a permanently remote or hybrid work environment.

Establish new ways to measure team productivity.

“Performance can be tracked in any number of ways outside of traditional hours,” shared Kathy.

“Ideally, you have clear expectations for your team and the objectives they’ve been hired to accomplish for your business — so each employee knows they’re measured against a certain key performance indicator.

“Everything’s digital now, and that allows you much more visibility of the metrics of your business, even ones that are further upstream. For a sales team, you can track the number of phone calls they’re making to potential clients, or new contacts they’re entering into our database. For our recruiters, we can track the number of interviews they’ve scheduled.

“The time spent on these activities does not always directly translate to productivity levels, so there’s no need to micromanage or require a certain number of hours to be spent in an office.”

Approach virtual meetings with more discipline and strategic planning.

In a remote or hybrid workplace, collaboration becomes less happenstance. Without the hallway conversations or opportunity to swing by a colleague’s desk, virtual meetings are more crucial than ever. Webcams and Zoom become critical tools for sharing information, generating ideas and making decisions.

But people might behave differently in virtual meetings than they do in person. Even on a video call, and even with good intentions, it’s easy to hide behind a screen.

“You have to plan intentionally to ensure people treat Zoom meetings like the real meeting,” said Andrea Tipton, EVP, Marketing & Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “Set clear expectations for each meeting about what each participant’s role will be.”

For example, will everyone be expected to contribute, or are certain attendees there only to receive information? Putting these expectations and an agenda directly in the meeting planner is ideal for ensuring everyone will be aligned on our objective and has the opportunity to prepare.

When conducting the meeting, stay on-task to keep the meeting productive. Call on certain individuals to make sure everyone has the chance to contribute, and end each call with clear next steps.

And know when something shouldn’t be a virtual meeting.

Though a lot of collaboration can happen remotely, sometimes there’s just no substitute for real face time.

“Our team decided early on that, as soon as we felt comfortable, we’d commit to having certain strategic and collaborative meetings in person,” Andrea shared. “Membership at a coworking space gives us the option to book conference rooms for quarterly planning meetings and other brainstorms that truly benefit from being in person.”

But have fun with it!

Without seeing each other in person every day, a little more effort is needed to stay connected and keep your culture alive. So, Andrea advocates building in those fun elements and recognition.

“Before, it was fun to come in and find surprises from co-workers, like balloons all over your cube for your birthday,” Andrea said. “So instead, we would have fun deliveries like goodie bags, Tiff’s Treats, awards or even surprise drive-by visits.”

Now that in-person interaction is back, our team has also returned to having happy hours and lunches together, but we still find ways to build in small surprises even while working virtually.

“We’ll still send cards and treats to our team’s homes, or put on crazy Zoom backgrounds or dress up for video calls on each other’s birthdays. We can’t go more than six or seven weeks without something fun,” Andrea said.

Recognize employees early and often, even for the small stuff.

Even before the pandemic, Andrea sent out Friday emails with a note of recognition for employees — a weekly kudos to members of the team who did something notable or appreciated.

During lockdown, this tradition became a key part of maintaining morale, and it’s now a permanent part of the Freeman+Leonard company culture.

“My favorite kind of kudos to include is when I get an email or communication from talent or a client praising one of our team members, and they may not even know this was said about them. Or, it could be for something they did quietly, and weren’t aware I even knew about.”

Kudos can also be simple notes of appreciation for the way a colleague helped out. “It’s a small token, but it can be motivating,” Andrea said. “It means a lot to know that small things still get noticed, even though no one’s sitting next to you.”

Andrea has a tip for managers who want to implement this practice on their teams.

“Every Monday, I start a draft email called “Kudos” and add to it throughout the week. I don’t want to forget anything and have to try to remember it all on Friday morning. So as the week goes on, when something exciting happens or there’s something I want to highlight, I just open up the draft and add it there.”

Foster a culture of transparency from the top, down.

Just as it’s easy to hide behind a laptop in a remote environment, the lack of direct contact can easily lead indirectly to less information sharing.

It’s critical, then, that leaders promote a culture of openness, candor and transparency — including proactive conflict resolution.

“Effective one-on-one communication can suffer when you don’t do as much of it,” Kathy said. “Sometimes you need to get some of that conflict out on the table so you can address it.”

Upgrade your tech — and organize your files.

“One of the first things we did when we transitioned to remote work was reorganize our files to make everything easier to find,” Andrea said. “We revamped our entire portal and filing system and committed to having as much as possible in digital form.”

With fewer sponsored events — like Social Media Breakfast Dallas (now Digital Marketing Dallas), which Freeman+Leonard hosted and sponsored for several years — the team had less need for paper, anyway.

“We’re not distributing as many hard copies as we are digital copies of marketing materials,” Kathy said. “Digital is easy to share and inexpensive to produce.”

In addition to Zoom and Microsoft Teams subscriptions, we also invested in more-secure ways to share files and information, and upgraded existing systems to get more out of the tools we already had.

“We added Cloud Call to our CRM, which puts all of our data about client or talent contacts at our fingertips,” Andrea said. “Now when I’m talking to someone, my note screen automatically comes up with that contact’s entire profile in front of me. Being connected immediately with their most recent information helps us all be more efficient.”

Help your team enforce boundaries.

“A downside of everyone working remotely now is that clients and talent expect you to be available all the time,” says Rachel Runnels, Director, Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard, who had already worked from home for several years before the pandemic. “You can’t just shut it off.”

“The pros far outweigh the cons, but the biggest challenge is turning it off,” agreed Lisa Foster, Sr. Director, Client Services at Freeman+Leonard. “Now that I’ve set up a complete office, it’s really tempting to walk back in after I’m supposed to be done for the day. Before, I had to pull out my laptop, and it felt more compartmentalized.”

If you’ve hired self-motivated workers, in a remote work environment your greater responsibility as a manager may actually lie in helping your team enforce work-life boundaries, more than policing their productivity, advised Kathy.

“Be sure your team knows that a reply isn’t expected at all hours, and that they can shut it off.”

Hire self-motivated, career-minded workers with strong communication skills.

“Success with remote or hybrid work starts with the right kind of hire,” Kathy said. “You have to hire self-motivated, career-minded people to make this work.”

Good verbal communicators are also more likely to succeed in remote workplaces, where the nuance of body language and facial expressions are often lost in a flurry of text messages, Slacks, emails and voice chats. But thankfully, this already comes naturally to many marketers.

Armed with a clear understanding of their role and expected outcomes, entrepreneurially minded employees will thrive with the flexibility offered by working from home.

“We’re highly efficient and we’re actually having a killer year,” Rachel said. “So it goes to show that it can work.”

Looking for self-motivated new hires for your newly remote marketing team or agency?

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:

Marketing salaries are rising. Here’s what employers need to know

Marketing salaries are rising. Here’s what employers need to know

In major cities across the U.S., salaries for marketing and creative jobs are rising dramatically. It’s happening across agencies and companies, at every experience level, and in multiple marketing disciplines. Demand is rising, but the supply of marketing candidates has not kept pace.

What’s causing this unusually tight market? Several factors have led us here, but we can point to COVID-19 as the cause of them all.

A post-pandemic hiring spree is creating opportunities for marketers.

The economic fallout of COVID-19 led to stalled growth and layoffs for many businesses. And as more companies bounce back from reduced headcount, they need staff ready and trained now.

To some extent, we’re now seeing a year’s worth of company growth, life changes, and career opportunities accelerate as lockdowns ease and confidence in the market rebounds.

That means marketing budgets are being spent again, and marketing teams are hiring once more. Not only that, but more marketing roles are now classified as “essential” — particularly digital, data analytics, eCommerce, UX/UI, content, PR, and media roles.

As more companies rush to grow their teams, many are also looking for marketing “unicorns,” or multi-talented professionals who can fill hybrid roles. Candidates with strengths in multiple specialties can command higher salaries, which won’t always align with the salary caps many hiring managers must work with.

Remote work gives top candidates even more options.

The pandemic forced many companies to embrace remote work, and we believe this trend will stick around. Now that they’ve experienced it, more companies are comfortable with having their employees work outside of the office, and more workers are asking that their pandemic-induced remote work arrangements become permanent.

The proliferation of remote work has given candidates more options for competing offers, as they’re no longer limited to opportunities in their own geographic area. 

It’s also given companies who are open to remote workers a much larger talent pool to choose from, but only if they’re willing to offer a salary that aligns with the candidate’s market, not their own.

Though candidate relocation has slowed, corporate relocations have not, and this is also impacting jobs markets more regionally. In our headquarters of Dallas-Fort Worth, the influx of corporations to the area has dramatically increased salaries and dropped  unemployment from 7.1% in December 2020 to under 7% in April 2021.

Candidates are being more careful about who they choose to work for.

Candidates, especially those in their 20s and 30s, have become more selective about the companies they work for and the types of roles they’ll take. They don’t want to join a company to do what they consider traditional or uninspiring work.

The pandemic also reduced their faith in a traditional career path. They are now handpicking opportunities or even walking away from what once would have been considered a great job.

With the economic uncertainty still fresh, “passive” candidates have become more difficult to attract, especially if they are with stable companies and industries. This likely will change as the impact of COVID-19 lessens.

It’s also more important than ever to candidates that the company they work for have a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In general, after a year of layoffs, social tensions, and efforts to automate certain roles, employees want to know they’ll be supported.

Hiring? It’s time to reset your salary expectations.

All of these factors have combined to create quite the candidate’s market.

Salaries have skyrocketed and will continue to rise. It is estimated that we’ll continue to see a spike in candidates negotiating unprecedented salaries through at least the fall of 2022.

We’re strongly advising our clients to reset their expectations internally about salaries, and be prepared to pay more for less experience. 

It’s now common to pay the same salary to a junior candidate that, last year, you might have expected to pay to someone more experienced. We’re even seeing candidates with as little as two years of experience get $20,000 to $30,000 more than they would have before this unique jobs market — some salaries even nearing six figures.

And if you’re looking to fill a hybrid role, with two specialties in a single employee, be prepared to pay even more in salary as that employee brings more to the table.

These are not anecdotal anomalies — this is now the norm. It’s a tough pill to swallow, particularly after a financially challenging year for many industries, but it’s the market reality. Even before this unusual market, more than half of the professionals we place expect a higher salary in order to change jobs. In 2021, this is just what it takes to entice candidates to make a move.

If you can’t compete on salary, reduce the job requirements or find other ways to be creative with compensation.

Don’t go it alone. Lean on the experts.

Talk with recruiting partners to understand the market. Because many companies are counter-offering with extreme salary increases to keep quality employees, your offer must be strong to stand a chance. Your recruiting partners can help you know the going rates, and craft a compelling job description and offer.

In addition to outsourcing the time-intensive work of finding and thoroughly vetting candidates, partnering with Freeman+Leonard in your recruitment process means you also get a strategic, hands-on advisor with highly niched expertise.

In these unusual market conditions, many employers can’t afford to go it alone.

Ready to find your next star marketing hire? 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:

How to find your own marketing unicorn

How to find your own marketing unicorn

Marketers have always been asked to wear different hats in their roles. Successful marketing programs and campaigns require a variety of talents and areas of expertise, even within more defined specialties, and often within the same person! From strategy, communication, and creativity, to project management, social media, and more, marketers are some of the most versatile employees a company can hire.

Now more than ever, Freeman+Leonard is seeing an increase in demand for marketers who are multi-talented and able to fill hybrid roles.

These might take the form of blending creative and analytical abilities, like a marketing coordinator or brand manager who can also write copy or edit video. Or, they might feature a blend of multiple creative talents, such as an art director who can also write copy. Combining different disciplines or areas of expertise — like a social media strategist who can also manage email marketing and website content — is also becoming more common.

While there’s nothing new about the concept of asking one person to wear multiple hats, Freeman+Leonard client orders for hybrid roles have skyrocketed as we’ve emerged from the pandemic. Demand for digital expertise has in particular.

This is true across agencies and brands, and from large companies to small. The pandemic seems to be the driving factor. Digital transformation is now a priority for every size of company, not just the bigger players, and executing strategic technology initiatives tends to require multiple skill sets working in concert.

Many companies are now looking at their hiring budgets and talent mix with fresh eyes. In this economic climate, employers are seeking digital expertise and a more strategic blend of aptitudes.

Enter: the elusive marketing unicorn.

 Often referred to with at least an undertone of sarcasm, or bestowed cheekily upon a company’s best employees, the concept of a “unicorn” in marketing has taken off, for better or worse.

Of course, we all know that unicorns exist only in fairy tales — so we’ve been advising our clients that while they can certainly ask for everything they want in a single member of their team, they may have a hard time finding it.

The good news? Though a true unicorn of an employee may not exist, it is possible to get many of the abilities you need in a single person — as long as you’re creative and flexible in your approach.

Nearly all of us at Freeman+Leonard spent our careers in marketing and advertising agencies before shifting to the talent matchmaking side of the equation. Given our backgrounds, we understand the pressure employers are under to get the biggest bang for their marketing buck. Fairy tale or not, the demand is real.

Here’s what we tell our clients who need a Swiss Army knife in their next hire:

1. Make a list of all the specific abilities and areas of expertise your team needs to succeed.

Think about your talent bench as an empty toolbox that needs to be filled. Each member of your team should supply at least one of those “tools.” Different companies and departments will need a particular set of tools to accomplish their goals and move the business forward.

Make a list of every tool you need, focusing more on specific capabilities, areas of expertise, and talents than actual job titles.

2. Take stock of the existing strengths and skills on your team.

Next, evaluate your existing team in detail to assess what you already have. Digging deeper than everyday function to consider each employee’s true strengths and passions may reveal hidden tools you didn’t know you had.

You may even discover untapped potential that can be realized through mentorship, training, and growth opportunities, potentially leading to not only cost savings but also greater job satisfaction and retention.

3. Determine which capabilities you’re missing, and stay flexible about which ones your next hire brings to the table.

Once you know what you have, you can more flexibly and creatively determine what — and then who — you really need.

If you need a project manager, a copywriter, and a designer, but have already decided your next hire will be a project manager who writes well (outsourcing the design to a freelancer), be open instead to your next hire bringing their passion for design to the table. Your next copywriter may be on your team already. Or, the social media community manager you hire next may turn out to have strong copywriting skills.

Challenge your own assumptions about what your ideal team looks like. Mix-and-match different “tools” in different team members.

This modular, flexible approach to designing your ideal team and nurturing their natural abilities is not only good for the bottom line, it’s good leadership.

4. Define your top priority or non-negotiable skill set, and align everyone internally.

Even when done thoughtfully and intentionally, the all-in-one approach to hiring your next employee can still carry risks. After all, a jack- or jill-of-all-trades is often a master of none.

You may think you’ve hired a double specialist, but actually wind up with a generalist. Or it could be that your star new hire, with two distinct skill sets, isn’t actually as strong in both areas as it may have seemed in the interview process. And maybe that would still work in theory, but your new hire’s weaker skill set was the one you actually needed more.

You can avoid this by prioritizing the capability you need most, and then communicating that to everyone who interacts with your candidates.

Clear communication and defined priorities don’t end when the candidate is hired.

Practically speaking, even if you do get lucky and find someone who’s truly great at multiple specialties, too many job functions and responsibilities riding on a single person can cause confusion and inefficiencies. Keep the lines of communication open with your new hire and help them prioritize their projects early and often.

5. Be prepared to act quickly, and to offer a salary higher than you may have expected.

A marketer with multiple strengths and capabilities is worth more to your business than a singular specialist. But that’s not the only factor to consider when budgeting their salary.

We can’t stress it enough: The current hiring marketplace, especially in our headquarters of Dallas-Fort Worth, is the most competitive we’ve seen in decades.

Salaries are astronomical in comparison to just a few months ago, for both agency and brand-side roles. Counteroffers are rampant. We’re seeing even less-experienced candidates get as much as $20K per year more than they would have before the pandemic, some nearing six figures for less than two years of experience.

If you find a great match, do not delay. Make an offer — and a good one — immediately, or risk losing them to your competitor. During the few days you may take to decide or get approvals, your candidate may have already received, countered, and accepted another offer.

Passive candidates in stable jobs they enjoy are willing to make a move right now, but only if the price is right, and only for now. We predict this current environment won’t last, and that means losing out on incredible multi-skilled talent who you otherwise may not have been able to lure away.

Click here for the 2021 Salary Guide for Agency Roles in DFW.

6. Be open to creative ways of finding and hiring talent, including contract and freelance.

It’s important to also challenge your own assumptions about how your ideal team is classified, and how you find them and use them. Sometimes being resourceful with your hiring decisions means thinking differently about what must be done in-house by a single person and what can be outsourced.

After all, if you’re hiring for three distinct skill sets, it’s entirely possible you’ll decide that you really do need three people. Fortunately, with contract solutions and on-demand resources from Freeman+Leonard, you can actually get three people for the price of one.

Hiring multiple contractors means you can have experts in each of the areas you need, even if you can afford only one FTE.

More marketers have embraced the flexibility of full-time freelancing than ever before, and this can become your competitive advantage. Freeman+Leonard can help you build a diverse, effective team that covers all the capabilities you need while streamlining costs.

Perhaps the hybrid you need isn’t a person, but a team: contract and flexible, but so immersed in your brand you’d never know they’re not employees from the work they deliver.

Beyond the standard direct hire placement, many customizable and unique approaches are available to employers today. Your marketing team can be composed of (or even a blend of) freelance, contract, or permanent FTEs. Compensation, taxes, and benefits can be managed through our payroll or yours. Team members can be trained in your business and your brand, then tapped only when you need them. Through Freeman+Leonard, you can even access fractional marketing leaders, executive-level consultants, and creative agency veterans.

Never before have there been so many creative solutions for getting the work done and moving your business forward. As your strategic partner, let us do the heavy lifting to find, vet, and assemble your star marketing or creative team.

Just because unicorns don’t exist doesn’t mean you can’t have your dream team.

Ready to build your own marketing A-team? 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: