Tips for working with recruitment agencies as a contractor

08.06.20

As a contractor, finding work can be tough. Not only do you have to compete with full-time employees and permanent positions, but you also have to find ways to stand out from the crowd in the growing freelancer and contractor market.

In the UK alone, around 15% of all workers are self-employed contractors or freelancers and that figure continues to climb.

There are a whole host of reasons why you might want to work with a recruitment agency to find your next contract or placement. They’ll help you find work, put you in front of lucrative hiring managers, and help you remain competitive.

Because of this, the majority of the UK contractor workforce goes through an agency to find work, but not everyone gets the most out of them. Today, we’ve put together some tips on working with recruitment agencies as a contractor and offer our advice on securing the highest-paying, most rewarding contracts…

 

Know what you want

The truth is, contractor recruitment agencies want one thing: to find you a contract as soon as they can so they can receive their commission. Because of this, they don’t always put you forward for positions you’d genuinely be interested in. The key to overcoming this is to be confident in your abilities and pay scale – if you leave everything to an agent, you might end up receiving calls for positions that are underpaid or not within your skillset. Be clear on what you will and will not do, set a minimum hourly or day rate, and don’t work for less than that.

 

Don’t settle for the first firm

Just as you wouldn’t settle on an umbrella contracting company without first reading reviews and testimonials, you shouldn’t sign up for the first recruitment agency that you find. You’re in a fortunate position: you have in-demand skills and are available to work. Shop around and speak to a few agencies to find out which one would best serve your needs. As well as reading reviews, reach out and see how long it takes for someone to get back to you. You want to find a team that’s hard-working, responsive, and values your experience and needs.

 

Give your CV an update

When was the last time you updated your CV? The chances are that you’ve got tons of work you can add, and perhaps even launch a portfolio to increase your hiring chances. A good recruitment agency will help you with your CV, but adapting it before you sign up will give you the best possible chances of standing out. Look for roles you want to apply for and add those keywords and skills to your CV. An eye-watering 75% of CVs don’t even make it to the hiring manager (they’re whittled down by an Applicant Tracking System) so optimising for the key skills and attributes gives you an advantage and means you’ll be seen by a real human.

 

Give them a call

Although most recruitment is now conducted over the internet, there’s nothing wrong with giving your new recruitment agency a call to make sure you’re on the same page. Having a dedicated contact who you can call to chase applications and the status of your contract will give you peace of mind, and it demonstrates that you’re keen to get the role. Building rapport with your agent is also advantageous – they’ll be more likely to think of you when they spot a new position and put you forward for roles ahead of other applicants on their contract books.

 

Lean on their expertise

A good contractor recruitment agency will know the companies that are advertising inside out and will be able to give you some advice ahead of an interview or meeting. Ask them for information on the role, the working culture, and how long the position is expected to last.

It’s common for some details to be excluded from the job advertisement, and so having a call with an agent will give you more reassurance that it’s the right position for you. The last thing you want to do is put yourself forward for a contract that doesn’t suit your requirements – you will waste your time, the hiring manager’s time, and be a day behind on your next job hunt.

 

The truth is that recruitment agencies will always need good contractors on their books, so you can afford to be picky and make them work for your business. Know who you are, what you can offer, and what you’re looking for, and don’t settle for second best. If your first recruitment agency doesn’t find you a job, move on to another firm that can. And when you are in work, remember that Evolve Contract Services is here to assist with umbrella services.

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