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Expert reveals tips for winning contracts through an agency

As economic conditions changes, it doesn’t hurt to have a creative staffing agency presenting your portfolio and resume to prospective clients. Freelance contracts provided by staffing agencies open new doors, and often lead to more long-term or full time arrangements. Staffing or employment agencies may expose you to clients or projects you may be unable to win otherwise. Herein this article, I am sharing with you 9 tested and proven tips to winning contracts through an agency.

Additionally, having an agency in your corner can be very convenient with respect to insurance, invoicing and collections. Letting an agency do the back-office tasks leaves you to focus on creative work, without having to wait for invoices or remittance in order to get paid.

Whether or not you have used an agency before, there are certain things freelancers can do to make your services more marketable to such firms. Don’t miss reading these benefits of using a creative staffing agency

Below are tested and proven 10 tips for winning contracts through an agency:

1. Perform a market research

If you have the intention of bidding for a government contract, avoid relying so much on your own stock knowledge and experiences to gauge the movements within the federal contracting market. Rather, conduct a thorough market research before you start penning down your proposal for a contract. You will gather latest and valuable information from your research which will guide you in crafting a relevant and effective proposal bid.

2. Finding an agency

First thing to do is finding a suitable agency that “walks the walk”. My best experiences as an agency freelancer have been with recruiters who know (to some degree) what life is like on our side of the table. I find it frustrating to be interviewed by a recruiter who doesn’t have even a beginner’s understanding of the tools and technologies we use. For the outsider, design and development often looks easy. Under the covers, however, designing and developing complex campaigns or websites is not as easy as it looks. It helps to have a professional on your side who knows the difference between HTML and Action Script.

3. Online profile

Many (most) staffing agencies have some candidate-facing portal to which you can apply. For the back-end, there are several software packages available today that provide recruiters with database access to the information you enter on the portal. Be thorough, and keep it current. Saving a few seconds by neglecting to add “Photoshop” to your profile may cost you an opportunity for which you are qualified.

4. Online samples

As a general rule, agencies specializing in creative staffing tend to get requests for talent that fall in to two categories: Designers or Production artists (Developers). Production artists and developers are typically responsible for the work behind the scenes; the front-ends of which have usually been laid-out by a designer or creative director. For such request, image samples or screen shots are often “nice to have” but not required. For design requests, however, your visual samples are a tremendous asset in promoting your work, and winning the job. Agency clients want to know that they are contracting a skilled designer whose style is commensurate with their brand, their message, and the imagery they choose to project. A picture is worth more than a thousand words, and this example is no exception. Here are a few more points to consider when posting samples:

“I already have an online portfolio and/or personal web page”. Agencies are simply not going to direct clients to your personal web page. Typically your personal pages or social networking sites have your contact information – an open door for a client to contact you directly and circumvent the agent. Although the honor system usually works well in our industry, agencies are typically more protective of their “inventory”. Consistency is another factor. By submitting portfolio samples, an agency can collect talent samples into consistent presentations for their clients.

Remove contact info. Avoid posting samples that include your contact information, or even your full name as part of the image. As described above, your agent will want to be the direct recipient of any contact attempts resulting from the promotion of your portfolio.

Description of involvement. Whenever you are uploading samples, make sure to add a description of your involvement to each piece (if possible). For example, if you are posting a JPG screen shot of a website you created, do not add descriptive text like “this is a website for XYZ company”. For any viewer, it will be plainly obvious that the screen shot is a web site. It would be better to write “I was responsible for the design and development of this web site; using Photoshop and Dreamweaver”.

Real live work. Sure, we kicked-out a few gems in art school; but this is not the best place to show that off. Rather, stick to the samples that were produced as part of a professional effort.

Related: 11 Essential skills of a successful social media manager

5. Professional references

We have all seen (or used) the resume tagline: “references available upon request.” try to have 3 gleaming professional references at the ready. If you have no professional experience with an agency, they may depend upon references from previous managers or employers to support your claims.

6. Your Credentials

Certifications and test must be indicated in your online application and/or resume any professional certifications you may have. Many agencies will invite you to take a test to evaluate your proficiency in certain skills or software titles. Be sure to indicate your willingness to test in those areas in which you feel most confident. Certifications or stellar test results may just sway a decision in your favor when compared to a less credentialed applicant.

7. Be Visible

Provide the agency with a reliable way to reach you when an opportunity becomes available. In so many cases, clients call agencies for urgent attention; and these agencies scramble to fill such positions swiftly in order to beat their competitors. In doing so, an agency may call or email a list of applicants when such opportunities open. Being visible and responsive can make the difference – a call back tomorrow may be too late.

8. Dependability

When working with an agency, you will undoubtedly be asked to jump through a few hoops to get you started. The steps above describing online samples and profile information are just two examples. What’s more, an agency representing you wants nothing less than a gleaming report from the client about your punctuality, and ability to meet deadlines for deliverables. Being dependable means your agent can submit you for an opportunity with confidence.

9. Be honest

Honesty in everything one does in life is a very important virtue in the school of success. Do not boast experience or credentials you do not have. Claiming proficiency in an area where you are a novice is a sure way to embarrass your agent, and get your file stapled shut.

10. Pricing

Today’s economic conditions have many implications in our industry; not the least of which is competition. As unemployment figures rise, more and more talented designers and developers find themselves looking for work. More supply (of talent) and less demand (less hiring) means lower wages and more choice for the hiring managers looking to expand their staff.

Hiring managers are keenly aware of this, and often impose upon agencies a maximum rate which they will pay. If you set a bottom line for your wages too high, your agent may skip you and call the next candidate. While this is not always a bad thing, consider lowering your bottom line in order to include your profile in your agent’s search results. If the pay rate is not enough, you can always pass on the opportunity; but you have to be “in it” to “win it”.

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