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Go Where the Marketers Go

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“When one door closes, another opens.” As workforces across industries collectively reconsider their career decisions and the landscape of work continues to evolve—companies and employees everywhere can take solace in the wisdom of this age-old adage.

The words not only apply to free agents on the market, but to workplaces with the power to reimagine work itself—especially marketing work. There’s still a record number of vacancies in the marketing space, and while our talent specialists predict recent trends will continue, they do believe positive change will be the result.

This article explores why marketers are leaving, where they’re going, who companies are turning to, and what leaders can do next to turn the great resignation into the great transformation.

Why is the talent leaving?

The global health crisis acted as a catalyst for job changes, arming marketers with motive and opportunity. As people were forced to retreat into the virtual world, record job losses were followed by record job openings. 67% of brands increased their digital marketing initiatives, just as virtual interview processes simplified job searches and marketers’ priorities shifted.

According to our Diversity Recruitment report, many of the reasons employees switch companies today are the same as yesterday: higher pay, better benefits, stronger culture, and more fulfillment.

However, our Future of Work study highlights a key difference—the rise of remote work led to a newfound prioritization of flexibility amongst creative, marketing, and technology candidates. 88% say they would leave on-site jobs for remote opportunities. Only 1 out of 10 remote professionals report they would consider returning on-site for a full work week.

Where is the talent going?

Over the last two years, the marketing sector has seen a rapid increase in freelance work in the United States. Reports show that the trend began well before 2020, and the pandemic actually accelerated the shift. 31% more professionals earned an income through independent work in 2021 than in 2020. A separate survey also revealed about half of the freelancers left full-time jobs with no interest in returning.

Most contract marketers cite flexible schedules and locations as the primary benefit. 70% agreed that contract work improves mental health. More than half say new work opportunities are easier to find. Other reasons for making the change include perceived earning potential, decision-making autonomy, diversity of experiences, and the opportunity to pursue passions.

An analysis of 15,000 freelancers found that the most in-demand freelancing roles are in the digital marketing and technology space. Now, 58% of the nation’s marketing talent are contractors, and those numbers are steadily increasing.

Who are companies turning to?

In a survey of 600+ marketing leaders, 68% reported struggling to hire an in-house marketer, 67% believe hiring will get even harder over time, and 80% recently worked with a freelance marketer. Leaders now estimate outsourcing nearly half of all marketing work to contract talent.

Marketing decision makers across the nation are relying upon existing connections, talent marketplaces, managed services firms, workforce solutions providers, and staffing agencies to gain quick access to qualified freelance marketers.

72% of leaders describe their freelance experience as positive. 92% of those initially reluctant were happy with their decision. Decision-makers list agility as the primary benefit since freelance models can empower companies to leverage the right talent at the right times without the risks or costs of direct hire.

What should you do next?

When marketers change jobs, they don’t just go remote; they often go freelance. Because talent are rethinking — what they want to do — when they want to do it — where they want to do it from — and who they want to do it for. Now, employers must do the same.

The potential for positive change outweighs the challenges the marketing sector faces. Unpredictable workforce conditions have accelerated the need for workplace innovations.

Go where the talent goes. Be the best employer you can be. Let your marketers work from anywhere as long as they work well. Leverage the most talented freelancers at your disposal. Overcome today’s problems with tomorrow’s solutions. Open up new doors to thrive in the future of work.



We are where the marketers are.

At Onward Search, we don’t just help companies acquire direct hires; our specialized workforce solutions are powered by our exclusive network of contract talent. At the intersection between creativity and technology – we help the nation’s leading brands connect with remarkable people, build scalable teams, and accelerate strategic projects.

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