I’m not a freelancer. I never have been. So why listen to me? Here’s why: because I was the person hiring them. I was also the person who helped businesses and agencies hire their freelancers. And I was the person who helped many freelancers find work on their own.
I spent years as a Recruiter. Yeah, I know, it can be a dirty word. I was even on a SXSW panel called “Recruiters are full of shit, I am one.” As a freelancer, you can find work on your own. But Recruiters do more than help people FIND work. They have a view into the market, you don’t. They’re also your biggest champion. If you’re new to freelancing or it’s the only thing you’ve ever known, here are five ways you can benefit from knowing a Recruiter who may never put you to work.
1. They understand the market. I hate the word “pulse” but that’s exactly what the Recruiters have on the market. It’s their job. Knowing hiring trends, market rates and understanding the needs of businesses is what they MUST know to do their jobs well. Everyone can benefit from having a little more info around the company they’re interested in partnering with.
2. They can help you prepare. Recruiters understand the inner workings of organizations. Both from talking to people who have worked there and those who hire for their open roles. Even if you found an opportunity on your own but you’re curious about environment, reputation or morale of the company, the history, even simple things like dress code, they can help. Being a freelancer, doesn’t always mean working from home, in your pajamas, so why not get the inside scoop on what to expect?
3. They know how to help you market yourself. They can give you feedback on your resume, your portfolio and your approach. They can direct you to the appropriate people (decision makers.) You’re an awesome Designer? Great! The reality is, you might be able to design your way into anywhere, but knowing how to get in there, is a different story.
4. They’ll throw jobs your way. There are plenty of reasons a Recruiter might pass a job to someone. They might only work “full time” jobs, they know businesses who don’t have budgets for staffing companies or they hear through their network a company, who is not their client, is hiring. I was able to pass along freelance jobs directly to freelancers, they would have never have come across on their own. You can be well networked, but a busy hiring manager can be a catch twenty-two. Recruiters often know the pain points and can send those jobs your way.
5. They can help you negotiate. Freelancers can get stuck in a rate rut. They charge the same thing year after year. Recruiters are well versed in negotiation and market rates. They can help you figure out if you’re not charging enough and how to increase your rate while keeping your clients happy. Some freelancers are not good at negotiating what they deserve. A Recruiter can guide you through the process.
Let’s be honest, we can’t do it all on our own, no matter the career choice. Wondering what the Recruiter gets out of this? They’re playing the long game. Ultimately, it’s reciprocal. When you see their value, you’ll pass it on. And you will have friends and/or fellow freelancers who need help, from time to time, and a Recruiter can help them find work. I know plenty of freelancers who don’t want (or have time) to find their next gig. Recruiters do the leg-work for them. Either way, everyone benefits.
Good Recruiters and good freelancers thrive on building solid relationships. Sure there are crappy people who end up being Recruiters …and Developers and Designers and Teachers and Firemen. All professions have a few jerks. Recruiters do get paid based on who they place in jobs. Freelancers get paid on a project basis. Everyone has to work to get paid. If we all did it the same way, nobody would make any money.
You never know when you’ll meet someone who can change your career.