As economic conditions change, it doesn’t hurt to have a creative staffing agency presenting your portfolio and resume to prospective clients. Jane Rubin Freelance contracts provided by staffing agencies open new doors, and often lead to more long-term or full time arrangements. Staffing or employment agencies may expose you to clients or projects you may be unable to win otherwise. Additionally, having an agency in your corner can be very convenient with respect to insurance, invoicing and collections. Letting an agency do the back-office tasks leaves you to focus on creative work, without having to wait for invoices or remittance in order to get paid.
Whether or not you have used an agency before, there are certain things freelancers can do to make your services more marketable to such firms.
1. Finding an agency. For me, this means an agency that “walks the walk”. My best experiences as an agency freelancer have been with recruiters who know (to some degree) what life is like on our side of the table. I find it frustrating to be interviewed by a recruiter who doesn’t have even a beginner’s understanding of the tools and technologies we use. For the outsider, design and development often looks easy. Under the covers, however, designing and developing complex campaigns or websites is not as easy as it looks. It helps to have a professional on your side who knows the difference between HTML and ActionScript.
2. Online profile. Many (most) staffing agencies have some candidate-facing portal to which you can apply. For the back-end, there are several software packages available today that provide recruiters with database access to the information you enter on the portal. Be thorough, and keep it current. Saving a few seconds by neglecting to add “Photoshop” to your profile may cost you an opportunity for which you are qualified.
3. Be honest. Do not boast experience or credentials you do not have. Claiming proficiency in an area where you are a novice is a sure way to embarrass your agent, and get your file stapled shut.
4. Online samples. As a general rule, agencies specializing in creative staffing tend to get requests for talent that fall in to two categories: Designers or Production artists (Developers). Production artists and developers are typically responsible for the work behind the scenes; the front-ends of which have usually been laid-out by a designer or creative director. For such request, image samples or screen shots are often “nice to have” but not required. For design requests, however, your visual samples are a tremendous asset in promoting your work, and winning the job. Agency clients want to know that they are contracting a skilled designer whose style is commensurate with their brand, their message, and the imagery they choose to project. A picture is worth a thousand words, and this example is no exception. Here are a few more points to consider when posting samples:
“I already have an online portfolio and/or personal web page”. Agencies are simply not going to direct clients to your personal web page. Typically your personal pages or social networking sites have your contact information – an open door for a client to contact you directly and circumvent the agent. Although the honor system usually works well in our industry, agencies are typically more protective of their “inventory”. Consistency is another factor. By submitting portfolio samples, an agency can collect talent samples into consistent presentations for their clients.