Category | Freelancer tips

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These Days, Recruiters Are Worth the Money

When it comes to sourcing the right interview candidates, I’ve never been keen to use recruiters. But I recently changed my mind.


My company, Metal Mafia, has an excellent candidate screening process, a super training program, and a very successful team of employees to show for it.

But hiring has always been a difficult task for me because each time I get ready to hire, it takes me forever to find the right type of candidates to even get the screening process started.

Despite the fact that I carefully consider where to advertise for candidates–I try to maximize the search dollars and get a good mix of potential applicants–it always takes me a long time to find people suited well to the company, and therefore, even worth interviewing.

I’ve tried everything from placing ads on large job boards like Monster.com, to smaller specialized job boards that cater to sales hires or fashion jobs, to local university boards where I can post for free (or close to it). Each time, I experience the same slow crawl toward finally finding the right person. It has taken me up to five months to find the right kind of hire in the past. So in November when I decided I needed to think about hiring for the new year, I was not optimistic.

For me, recruiters have traditionally been out of the question because I figured they would be a waste of time and never be as good at sending me the right people for the job as I would be in reviewing resumes myself. They’re also too expensive for my small budget. But as I got ready to place my job ads again, one of my senior staff members came to me and offered me the name of a fashion recruiter she knew and thought could help. I was skeptical, but I called her anyway, figuring listening would cost me nothing.

The recruiter convinced me she would do a thorough job, but I still hesitated because of the price. I do not have large sums of money to devote to the hiring process, and by my calculations, when all was said and done, using the recruiter was going to cost me three times as much as my usual techniques. On the other hand, the recruiter would only charge me if she found someone I decided to hire, which meant I was risking nothing, and could always come back to my original methods. I bit the bullet and signed up, reminding myself “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

The recruiter sent me the resumes of 10 entry-level candidates. I screened six by phone, met three in person, and found the right hire–all in a month. The cost suddenly became much less, because I saved so much time in the process, and because I got a pool of applicants who were decidedly better to choose from than in the past. Even more interesting, perhaps, was an insight the right candidate shared with me during the interview process. When I asked why she had chosen to work with a recruiter rather than post on job boards, she said “because recruiters make sure your resume gets seen, while submitting via the Internet is like sending your resume into oblivion.”

If most people these days are thinking like my new hire, the recruiters will clearly have the best selection of candidates every time. Looks like I’ve got an essential new hiring strategy.

Vanessa Merit Nornberg: In 2004, Vanessa opened Metal Mafia, a wholesale body and costume jewelry company that sells to more than 5,000 specialty shops and retail chains in 23 countries. Metal Mafia was an Inc. 500 company in 2009. @vanessanornberg

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Client does not pay freelance architect and takes credit for design

I work as a freelance architect and designer. In this particular instance, I was victim to the ignorance of an uninformed client. When you’re dealing with intellectual property, such as creating a design, it’s important that the client is knowledgeable and has the capacity to understand what they’re actually paying for: your ideas!

While designing Whitehall, located on 19 Greenwich Ave in New York City, I produced construction drawings, digital renderings, hand sketches, filing drawings for building permits, and material call outs. The built space was written about in Vogue magazine, and they not only left out my name but gave the owners the credit for the work, literally stating that the space was designed by Donal Brophy and Brian McGory.

After using all of my ideas, the clients claimed that they were actually the designers. Confused? I was too. After interrogating them, the response was that they had to deal with a lot of questions from the contractor. Has anyone ever worked with a contractor who doesn’t ask questions? If they’re not asking questions, they probably aren’t doing a great job.

In most cases, the client would typically allow the experienced professional to perform what is called Construction Administration. I technically should have been the one who was answering all of the contractor’s questions on this job and would have if the client hadn’t stated that he was also an “experienced” designer and therefore this role would be unnecessary for me to perform. The client asked me to remove that fee from our contract. I agreed to remove the fee and it was made clear that I would not be performing the CA role on this job. This was all agreed upon prior to beginning the work.

Even though I explained this to the client, he told me to take $3,000 in cash (the contract was for $8,000), off the books, and be done with it. I refused on moral grounds as I had clearly already done all of the work. To then be stiffed on top of that was just adding salt to the wound. As a result of this loss, in addition to having gotten short-changed by another client who claims he’s broke, I’ve been forced to give up my studio space.

“After using all of my ideas, the clients claimed that they were actually the designers.”

Freelancers don’t have a financial buffer like corporations do. We’re typically operating month to month and if you don’t have more than one job lined up, you have no leverage in your negotiations. Having worked in this industry for the past seven years, what I can now advise is that it’s not worth it.

If the terms aren’t to your liking and you don’t find yourself personally attached to the work or to the client, then walk away. Otherwise, you’ll always end up with the short end of the stick.

If you freelance in the New York City area, stay away from Donal Brophy and Whitehall. If you do decide to stop in Whitehall for a drink, tell them it’s on me!

Antonio is a freelance architect and designer.  (The views and opinions in the posting above do not reflect those of Consulting4architects Blog.)

This story was submitted to the Freelancers Union

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Freelancer Bill of Rights

To support our Get Paid, Not Played campaign, freelancers at our Monthly Member Meetings produced this draft of a Freelancer Bill of Rights to empower themselves to demand fair treatment from clients. Our goal is to offer a space for freelancers to articulate the minimum work standards that they have the right to expect when taking a job or gig.

Read more about the Freelancer Bill of Rights

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Report: Unemployment High Because People Keep Blowing Their Job Interviews

Another applicant blows it by describing his short-term goals as "getting this job."

 WASHINGTON—With unemployment at its highest level in decades, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report Tuesday suggesting the crisis is primarily the result of millions of Americans just completely blowing their job interviews.

According to the findings, seven out of 10 Americans could have landed their dream job last month if they had known where they see themselves in five years, and the number of unemployed could be reduced from 14.6 million to 5 million if everyone simply greeted potential employers with firmer handshakes, maintained eye contact, and stopped fiddling with their hair and face so much.

“This economy will not recover until job candidates learn how to put their best foot forward,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, warning that even a small increase in stuttering among applicants who are asked to describe their weaknesses could cause the entire labor market to collapse. “If we’re going to dig ourselves out of this mess, Americans need to stop wearing blue jeans to interviews, even if they’re nice blue jeans, and even if that particular office happens to have a relaxed dress code.”

“They also need to start bringing extra copies of their resumés, as it will show they are prepared and serious,” Solis added. “And, by the way, how hard is it to send a hand-written thank-you note afterward? Anyone can dash off an e-mail.”

A federal survey of employers found that nearly half of job-seeking Americans botched their interviews by responding no when asked, “So, do you have any questions for me?” Among candidates strongly qualified to perform the jobs they were applying for, 36 percent didn’t bring a notepad or pen to the interview, and 16 percent were thrown off guard when the interviewer broached topics un≠related to work, such as the weather, sports, or personal hobbies.

Twelve percent, employers said, did this kind of nervous throat-clearing thing.

“If applicants would just say yes when asked if they played softball or liked golf, we could add 350,000 jobs to the private sector,” Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris said. “The fact is, right now, today, approximately a third of the country’s manufacturing positions are vacant. Auto plants across the country, especially in Detroit, are sitting there just waiting for people to come in and build cars.”

“You may be a qualified candidate, but none of that matters if you walk into that interview lacking confidence,” he added. “Don’t act too confident, though. And don’t joke around too much. And don’t be overly friendly or ask too many questions. But be yourself.”

The Labor Department confirmed their statistics don’t take into account the estimated 20 million citizens who were unable to get interiews in the first place because of formatting errors in their resumés, or cover letters that slightly exceeded one page.

“At this point, hiring someone who doesn’t use bulleted lists, strong action verbs, or boldfaced keywords is completely out of the question,” said public relations executive Max Werner, who has been looking for office managers and a CFO since 2008. “And if you’re going to end your cover letter with ‘best wishes’ instead of ‘sincerely,’ I don’t care how experienced you are—you won’t be working for me.”

President Obama, who last week signed a law extending unemployment benefits, said the legislation would also address joblessness by creating a $1.2 billion program aimed at training Americans to use firm but approachable body language to make a great first impression.

“My administration remains fully committed to putting citizens back to work by making sure they show up at least 15 minutes early to their interview and never badmouth a previous boss,” said Obama, flanked by unemployed Americans during an address from the White House Rose Garden. “Our new ‘Nail the Interview, Score the Job’ initiative will help regular Americans like Paul and Tracy here remember that they should prep ahead of time by learning a few things about the company they want to work for.”

“And that little things,” he continued, “like making sure your socks match, matter.

Via The Onion

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The Freelancers Union Will Endorse Candidates

The Freelancers Union: Platform for an Independent Workforce

As someone who has fought for 24-years to bolster the right of architects and designers to work as independent professionals in the eyes of state and local government for income tax purposes, I endorse the goals of the Freelancers Union.   CFA is an advocate for freelancers rights and a longstanding member of the Freelancers Union.  The Freelancers Union lobbies elected government officials to achieve its goals and recently announced that the organization will endorse candidates in the upcoming election.  Their announcement follows:

Freelancers Union will endorse candidates in New York City’s 2009 elections who have demonstrated a strong commitment to independent workers.

Freelancers are the backbone of the modern economy, but employment laws haven’t kept pace: we’re over-taxed, uninsured, and have few workplace protections. We’re working to change that by forming a Political Action Committee that helps elect candidates for political office who support freelancer issues such as eliminating the Unincorporated Business Tax (UBT) and making benefits affordable and accessible.

We’re finding out where the candidates stand on key Freelancers Union priorities by having them fill out a questionnaire and come in for an interview between July 22 and 24. Members are encouraged to attend.

Additionally, there will be a Comptroller and Public Advocate candidate event on July 29. All members are invited to attend and can register here.

The final endorsement decision will be made by the Freelancers Union Endorsement Committee. The team includes Founder and Executive Director Sara Horowitz, Advocacy staff, Freelancers Union members, and a member of the Freelancers Union Board of Directors.

We know that if we go it alone, we’ll keep slipping through the cracks. But if we come together and elect candidates that share our commitment to a strong social safety net, we can win the rights and protections we deserve.

Learn more about the Freelancers Union

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Can a freelancer perform like a company?

sb10066467f-004From Freelancer Blog – Yes, and many times, better. There are many benefits to hiring freelancers to do work you would otherwise have to hire an independent company to do, or hire a full or part-time employee to do. When you have projects ranging from jobs and careers in business marketing to freelance translation career fields, having one person on your staff may not fill your needs. Hiring your own employees might work, but at what cost?

When you hire a freelancer you are getting the BEST person for that specific job. You only have to pay THEM and not everyone else an independent company needs to pay to keep it running, from secretaries to owners. Being able to select different individuals for each project also gives you a greater flexibility than you would have if you hired one person to do it all and kept them on your payroll whether you needed them or not. If your work is varied that could mean needing to hire an entire office full of employees—along with having the facilities to put them up, keep them working, provide their supplies, computers and other necessities of doing business.

The ability to hire freelancers is also a boon to those enterprising individuals who operate successful home businesses. If you have a project, you can’t hire someone and put them in your living room while they do the work, but when you hire a freelancer the work is done off-site and delivered to you electronically with no hassle.  Being an independent company working from home also means needing to keep your budget low, so hiring a staffing company to complete your projects is likely to be out of your price range and unnecessary if you don’t have a constant supply of work.

Online freelancing is productive for both parties, and your company will reap all the benefits – which include keeping as much money as possible in your pocket where it belongs.

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