As an IT-freelancer, you have several options to get projects. A convenient solution to get into suitable projects is to work with recruiters. Recruiters often have access to a huge network of client companies and can thus quickly find suitable follow-up projects. Reason enough to take a closer look at the way recruiters work:
To ensure that you, as a freelancer, also receive the right project requests and grab the “really lucrative projects”, we talked to Hülya Akverdi, Senior Key Account Manager at Hays about the following topics: Which freelancers snag the most lucrative projects and why? How does the cooperation with staffing companies work as an IT-freelancer?
IT recruiting everyday life
What is your day-to-day work like in the placement of IT freelancers?
“I am in daily contact with many contacts from different companies and talk to them about planned projects. So the placement of freelancers starts even before there is a project. As soon as a project is ready, our clients register the need with us. The needs analysis is often different and depends on the client.
Ideally, we coordinate the content of each requirement with the specialist department, because often the relevant information is between the lines. Sometimes we receive a lot of relevant information, but sometimes we only receive hints and have to search for them. The higher the quality of the needs analysis, the more accurate our search and the better our candidate briefings.
After the needs analysis, we review our network. We have a very large database with over 500,000 candidates. Our recruiters update them and fill them with more exciting profiles together with our active sourcing team. In parallel we publish the jobs on different channels like our website or via LinkedIn, Freelancermap, Freelance.de etc.. Most of our jobs we are not allowed to publish on client request, even if the name of the client is not mentioned. For this reason, only a fraction of our current projects are online and we cannot rely on applications, but have to become active ourselves. Therefore, we contact promising candidates primarily by telephone. We want to save time, talk directly about the project and clarify availability. If we do not reach the person, we will send the project description by email. In any case, we need to talk about the job and clarify open questions. This can only be done by telephone and in rare cases on site.
If I already know someone who can meet the requirements and I have had a good experience with that person in the past, I will contact them directly. In parallel, the request goes out to all other suitable freelancers. The sense behind this is that we naturally want to have good freelancers continue to work for us on projects. That’s why we try to find a follow-up project shortly before the end of a project. We look at the active project requests and advertise internally nationwide for the freelancer, so that all colleagues can get an idea whether the profile fits the customer project. That can often be the key advantage, because people we recommend internally get preferential treatment.”
Sourcing of IT-freelancers: What is Crucial from a Freelancer’s Point of View?
The Optimal IT-Freelancer Profile
“A clear and professional profile is the key to exciting projects. We cannot work without a clean profile. The profile of a freelancer is his business card, his external presentation and reflects him. Resumes can look very different, as they also reflect the taste of the person. Nevertheless, there are certain points that need to be considered:
The structure of a resume: A good profile lets me know at first glance who this person is, what they do, and how I can reach them. If I have to read or search for this information between the lines first, then I lose time – and time is what is always in short supply during recruitment. So it may well be that we then view the next profile.
Design of the resume: A legible font should be self-evident. Over the years, I’ve had resumes in cursive, Comic Sans, and even cursive in light gray on a white background. The design should reflect the essence of the person, but not overwhelm the reader. Sometimes less is more.
Profile picture: Admittedly, a profile picture is not a must. Personally, I find it more appealing and also know that a majority of my clients prefer profiles with pictures. If a picture is included, then invest in a professional picture. From party pictures to photos in frog perspective, with sunglasses, blurred, in the style of the 70s….all already had. Clean clothes, friendly smile, good light and reasonably current. That’s all you need for a good profile picture. It doesn’t always have to be the expensive studio picture.
Length: With freelancers, the experience of the last five years is enough for me. Only for very specific topics do I look at the time before that. There are really great profiles where the important project information is condensed to the essentials. This includes: Time period, company or industry, role, activity in a few sentences, tools/languages used. That’s it, that’s all I need in the first step. In conversation, I then ask about some projects to find out more. The profile of a freelancer is what the trailer is for a movie. It should provide the necessary information and create interest without giving too much away.”
“In addition to the obvious items like skills and availability, I pay particular attention to good references. When freelancers have already worked with us, we always ask our clients at the end of the project how the collaboration was. We also provide internal references. Since we actively supervise the freelancers in the projects, we already learn through this whether it was a fruitful collaboration or not. We want to know how companies rate the professionalism of freelancers. Whether the cooperation was pleasant on a human level. How others in the company reacted to the freelancer. How we felt about the care we received. If we have several positive references, we are naturally more inclined to recommend the freelancer with a good rating to our clients than the one who has either no rating at all or no good rating at all.
When a freelancer is new to us, we ask for 2-3 reference contacts. We review these independently and maintain them for internal purposes only. Positive references greatly increase the chance of placement.”
Get hold of Lucrative Projects
How can IT freelancers increase their chances of snagging the most lucrative projects possible? Which freelancers are the ones who get the best projects?
Hülya Akverdi: Those who update their profile before the end of the project and start searching. A well-structured and clear profile rounds this off. If we have already worked with someone and that person has positive references with us, then we save time and give them priority after consultation. This has enabled us to build long-term partnerships of which we are particularly proud.
However, a lot can go wrong when briefing the prospect. For example, if unrealistic hourly rates are given or the profile seems too good to be true, this quickly arouses our suspicion. We look at dozens of profiles every day and develop a sense of authenticity and honesty over time. If what is said in the briefing does not match the profile, then we reject the profiles directly. Most freelancers have an external presence via LinkedIn or their own website. I find that very charming because it can underline professionalism.
What distinguishes a good staffing company?
A good staffing agency does not simply cover the needs but thinks beyond them and links the right contacts together. In addition, a good service provider acts proactively and purposefully.
Also: Ask the right questions at the right time. My job is not that of a classic personnel service provider. It is important to me that my customers’ projects are successful. That’s why I prefer to ask what they have in mind, and then we determine together what they need. Are they missing a specialist or do they need something completely different?
In addition to the classic placement of specialists, we also offer other services. I can look for partner companies for my customers who, for example, take over IT support completely. Through our subsidiary, Hays Technology Solutions GmbH, we can take on agile work contracts and handle entire projects for our customers.
I am currently focusing on the topic of cyber security and am building up a lot of expertise in this area so that I can not only support my customers in the future, but also advise them.
How does the Collaboration with a Company like Hays work?
“Basically it’s very simple, we start with the needs assessment. Then we search our own network, as well as our and external databases for suitable freelancers. We contact them and discuss the details of the project. We check or ask for references. If it is a good fit for us and the freelancer, we introduce the person with their current profile to the client. If the customer is also interested, we arrange an interview. If the freelancer and the client agree, then we draw up the contracts and supervise the external person in the ongoing project. If something should be or there are ambiguities about calculations, compliance, contractual, the personal cooperation, etc. we are on the spot and take care. After the project is before the project for externals. Even before the project ends, we are looking at possible follow-up projects.
If we already know the freelancer, then some steps are eliminated. Once we have conducted the needs analysis, we inform the known freelancer and introduce him with his consent. This eliminates the need for searching, including reference checking. It may sound banal, but sometimes that is precisely the decisive competitive advantage. Speed Matters!”
What are the criteria that I have to meet in order for a staffing company like Hays to place projects with me in the first place?
Do I have any chances at all as a freelance newcomer?
“What we need first and foremost is a profile. Even if the profile doesn’t say much at first. The best way to get started is to look at our projects online and applyor contact us directly.
Even if the project does not materialize, you are still in our pool. Since we only put a fraction of our projects online for various reasons, the next project request won’t be long in coming. We need to be able to contact you, so phone number and mail are mandatory. Those who wish can also contact us directly (e.g . via LinkedIn or Xing). We would be happy to make an appointment and discuss the possibilities. I have often placed freelancers who have just started their own business. It’s not complicated, it just takes patience.
We currently have a candidate-friendly market as the shortage of skilled workers continues to grow. It would therefore be fatal for us to put obstacles in the way of fresh self-employed people. We like to roll them away together.”