Some freelancers love them, some hate them. In the past 3 years of freelancing in London I have worked with many recruiting agencies and had good and bad experiences. In the end it all comes down to the person you are dealing with, but there are some things that I have learned along the way that might be helpful if you are thinking about working with a recruiting agency.
WHAT IS A GOOD CREATIVE RECRUITER?
I was very lucky to come across one of the best recruiters in London when I started out. He really guided me into the world of freelancing and pushed my confidence and with that my day rate upwards. Recognising a good recruiter is easy. First make sure the recruiter wants to meet you face to face. You should treat this meeting as a job interview. A good recruiter wants to get to know you and your skill set, what you like to do and how you want to grow. Be honest about your experience and knowledge. There is no point in over or under selling yourself, this won't benefit anyone. If you feel that you have a good connection with this person, you can then sign up to their agency and let them know about your availability. A good recruiter will always ask your permission to send your portfolio over to their clients. This way you can check out the agency first, look at the work and decide if it will be a good fit. Sometimes it happens, you get booked and the job wasn't for you. Just communicate this to your recruiter. A good recruiter will work for and with you, and will be happy with the feedback. Most of the time they will check in with you after your first day on the job and see how everything is going. It is important to them that they place you at the right job. See it as a cycle upwards; they get you a job, you give feedback, so they will get you a better job next time.
A GOOD RECRUITER WANTS TO GET TO KNOW YOU AND YOUR SKILL SET.
AND A BAD ONE?
This comes from a personal experience to show you how a recruiter or recruiting company shouldn't behave.
I once got a call out of the blue by someone working for a recruiting agency with already a bit of a bad reputation. The guy told me I was perfect for a job he had going at a big agency. Since I cycle everywhere in London, I always want to know the location of the place and this one was extremely far out. I was just getting on my bike when he called, so I asked him to send me the details to look at and have a think. Not much later I got a call back that he already put me forward and this advertising agency wanted to book me, again stating I was perfect for the job. Remember.. I wasn't even signed up to his recruitment agency yet and I've never met him! By this point I was already a bit annoyed with him, but since I was still available for that time period and the creative agency was quite a big name.. I said Yes. Even though I had to cycle over 50 minutes across the city up and down everyday. Also the booking wouldn't start for another two weeks.
Normally a good recruiter will check in with you before and after your first day. I didn't hear from this guy the week upcoming from my booking and I didn't hear from him for over a week when I started. Apparently he was on holiday, but still.. someone from the recruiting agency could've checked in on me.
When it came to sending my invoice and timesheet, I heard that their payment terms are three weeks...! This maybe doesn't seem that long, but almost every other recruiting agency I work with, pays within a week. At that time I really needed the money faster (I think my Corporation Tax was due) so I asked if it was possible to pay my invoice earlier then that. They could, but they would charge me out £25 out of my own fee!
I'm not going to name drop.. but I will soon post a list of my favourite recruiting agencies in London!