After more than 20 years in the corporate world, I decided to branch out on my own. Throughout my career, I had established great working relationships with several consulting agencies that specialize in my area of expertise, so it was natural to connect with them to help me find work.
Initially, I took on many different roles through various agencies. In fact, I took almost every job that came my way because I was afraid I would not be able to pay the mortgage, and I wanted to get a feel for the types of roles that were out there. However, I was not always happy in my work and I feared this would reflect poorly not only on me but the agency I represented as well.
There are various types of consultants in the workforce today. There are those who want long-term roles that may or may not evolve into a full-time position. There are people who only want to work for one company at a time — sometimes in a full-time capacity, sometimes not, but they are not looking to be a full-time employee again. Then you have someone like me.
I like to have the flexibility to either work part-time or take on additional projects. As such, I do not want to work fulltime for any one company, though I will do so if the project has a clear start and end date.
I also prefer work that does not require me to be onsite all the time. Of course, I understand there will be days and meetings for which I would need to be in the client’s space, but not for all of the hours I work.
These are the parameters I had in mind when I left the corporate world, enabling me to have the balance and flexibility I desire.
Evaluating Your Agency
After a year in the freelance world, I took a step back to evaluate the work I was accepting, and in the process I realized that not all staffing agencies are created equal. Some staffing firms demonstrated that they listened to me and my goals mattered — and some did not. This was evident by the types of jobs they had been suggesting to me.
As a former client of staffing services on the buy side, I could tell those companies that truly tried to serve the account with our success in mind and those that would throw any résumé at a job req. Now, as the other type of staffing client — the worker — that distinction was just as obvious. I was able to see which agencies were not only trying to make their clients successful, but were trying to make me successful as well. Those companies that would send me full-time, open-ended job reqs, or those that required me to be onsite at all times, were the companies that showed my own wants and needs weren’t of much importance to them. Those that didn’t waste my time with jobs scenarios I had already expressed no interest in were those that stood out to me.
I now have two agencies through which I do most of my work. They understand me, my strengths, and what I am capable of. They do a great job at representing me to clients when I am the right fit, and rarely reach out to me with something that is not what I normally want to do.
I think the most successful agencies are those that not only seek to please their enterprise clients, but the consultants that represent them as well.
Freelance consulting is not for the faint of heart. If you go it alone, every day you are in job-seeking mode, balancing your time focusing on the work you are doing, while looking for your next gig. And at any given time, you can have multiple bosses: yourself, the client or clients you are working for, and the agency that helped place you there. Having staffing firms we can trust in our corner makes the load easier to bear.