For Marketing Talent, 2023 Will Be the Great Course Correction

Here are five ways that your organization needs to evolve to support your talent

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If 2021 was the Great Resignation and 2022 was the Great Reshuffle, I’m calling 2023 the Great Course Correction—the year when the power dynamic between employee and employer equalizes somewhere in the middle. 

When we read about the labor market these days, it’s rarely positive. But the truth is the advertising and marketing talent industry remains strong. LinkedIn recently reported a 374% increase in marketing jobs posted year over year, a staggering finding that reflects the expansive role of marketing in business growth even amid macroeconomic turmoil.

Yes, many chief marketing officers are facing tighter budgets and uncertainty about their futures, but it’s important to remember that this economic downturn will be different for marketers and their teams. Looking at past recessions, there’s a clear correlation between advertising spend and economic indicators.

Of course, that was during a different era of marketing: During the Great Recession, the chief marketing officer was viewed as a functional leader overseeing brand, creative, advertising and communications. In our post-lockdown world, the CMO is a business-critical leader with responsibilities that go well beyond traditional marketing activities to include customer experience, sales, strategy, product, data and insights. 

Though we might not see marketing hiring continue to surge in 2023, a correction back to a more realistic growth trajectory affords us an opportunity to improve who we hire, how we hire them, where we hire from and how to find balance in our talent organizations.

Hiring new and retaining existing talent

Last year ended with a whiplash of tech layoffs, which has continued into the first and likely second quarter of 2023 as corporate budgets are finalized and implemented. In the broader economy outside of tech, however, layoffs remain historically low.

With the hiring bloat from tech companies over the last several years, data from online marketing talent portal Publicist shows the marketing ecosystem has already started to absorb talent from adjacent industries. The most popular roles coming from tech currently include UI and UX designers, graphic artists, strategists, project managers and market research talent.

A hybrid and agile marketing firm

In the next few years, we will see 50% of the United States work for themselves. This year, we’ll continue to see more people seeking flexible opportunities, willing to compromise the sense of security from a full-time job.

In a study conducted by Publicist, freelance talent in the marketing industry values creative and economic opportunities equally—and autonomy is a key reason thousands of people are becoming freelancers. People and talent acquisition teams will put a significant emphasis on creating benches of on-demand talent while nurturing relationships with independent contractors seeking temporary employment, and working with their hiring managers to implement the most efficient and cost-effective scenarios for filling positions. 

In our ever-changing talent landscape, a best practice is maintaining a 70-30 mix of full-time employees to freelance workers. One of the core trends that we experienced at the beginning of the pandemic was the practice of hiring the best generalists possible and relying on the 30% freelance talent to be hyper-specialized in their fields. This has allowed organizations to scale up and down as needed with domain expertise.

Understanding what talent wants 

While the power pendulum may continue to swing in employees’ favor for some time, organizations can take a few key actions. We have seen tensions rise between employers and employees over how work is done, when it’s done and where it’s done. Metro area offices are still under 50% of capacity compared with pre-pandemic numbers despite a crackdown from some organizations requesting in-person or structured hybrid policies.

Here are five ways your organization needs to evolve to support your talent:

Disregard educational requirements. Employers need to think more creatively about attracting new talent from different types of roles and industries. Not only do many degrees not correlate with respective job descriptions, but removing educational requirements will allow companies to reach more diverse talent. 

Give employees flexibility. Remote work, formerly a nice-to-have perk, is now considered nonnegotiable for many people. Job searches on Publicist for remote work surpassed 90% for freelance engagements and nearly 10% of all searches for full-time work. The demand for flexibility remains high worldwide, with 83% of global professional talent still preferring hybrid work.

Create learning cultures. As far as pandemic-era priorities go, upskilling may be the secret to employee satisfaction. Publicist predicts that organizations will shift toward creating a genuine learning culture that focuses on micro-upskilling, mentoring programs and cross-functional development.

Review and reevaluate employee pay. In one Publicist survey, 70% of freelance workers indicated that a higher contract value would influence them to take on new work. Companies should use this period to review and reevaluate employee pay, ensuring it meets employee needs. In an environment where it’s hard to retain talent, increasing salaries can help forego the cost of hiring, onboarding and training new full-time employees.

Be human. Prioritizing your peoples’ happiness and well-being is one of the most overlooked, essential and simple actions we can take to empower and support them. Stress, workplace dissatisfaction and unhappiness are the three factors, behind pay, that cause talent to search for their next role.

Predicting what the marketing industry, let alone the world, will look like a year from now is undeniably challenging. While the shifting talent landscape has been overwhelming, and the Great Resignation and Reshuffle have been difficult for people in creative industries, marketing leaders should use the Great Course Correction to do better: Be human, get closer to your talent and improve your hiring process as the marketing landscape continues to change.