For the past six years, I’ve been a freelance designer working specifically with design recruitment agencies. During that time I have undertaken over 30 contracts and worked at over 30 design studios. I find working this way a much better alternative to working as a solo freelancer managing your own clients.

Now, as with any role, there are pros and cons to working this way. However, if you’re new to this type of work you may be wondering how does it actually work? Is it right for you?

Getting started

Let’s start with the design recruitment agency. These work much like any other recruitment agencies. These companies seek to connect with as many potential clients as possible, looking for services the agencies specialise in. For design recruitment agencies, these are typically design studios, advertising agencies, marketing agencies or businesses looking for creative talent.

Now, the design recruitment agencies are also looking to connect with freelance designers. They’re looking to get as many experienced designers on their books as they can. Once they have designers on their books, they can offer them for any creative contract their clients request.

Now there is a process of onboarding with the freelance designer. Before a design recruitment agency can place a designer on their books, they typically need them to attend an interview. During the interview, the designer will get the chance to present their work. Here, the agency assesses the designer and creates a profile of their skills, experience, expertise, personality and job preferences.  

This profile is essential to the agency as it will help fit the designer to prospective jobs more appropriately. The design recruitment agency also requires the freelancer to be set up and ready to issue invoices to be paid. So, before a freelancer can work for a design recruitment agency, they must be set up as a sole trader, a limited company or with an umbrella company.

Getting a job

Once a design recruitment agency has a prospective contract, they need a freelancer to assign to the contract. The design recruitment agencies will have several agents or creative recruiters that manage both their clients and freelancers. With a contract ready to fill, the creative recruiter checks their roster for appropriate designers and calls them to check their availability. 

The creative recruiter will proposition the freelancer to see if they’re interested in the contract. At this point, the freelance designer can ask more about the contract, the project, the duration and negotiate the price. If the freelancer wishes to proceed with the contract, the recruiter will suggest them to the client, who may look at several candidates’ portfolios. 

The client selects a designer and informs the creative recruiter, who will confirm with the chosen designer. The freelance designer is then required to travel to the studio where they will work for the agreed time frame. From then on, it’s up to the freelancer to work with the client, within the parameters of the company, the team and the brief to carry out the creative task until it’s complete and the contract is over. 

On the job

A good creative recruiter will check in with the freelancer after a few days to see how they are getting on. Otherwise the freelancer will only need to report back to the creative recruiter at the end of the contract, to extend the contract or chat about any issues regarding the contract. 

The freelancer will typically be expected to complete a timesheet with their design recruitment agency at the end of each week. Then, at the end of each week or month, they also send an invoice to the design recruitment agency. So in this instance, the designer has no formal contract with the client. They won’t have to invoice the client, only the design recruitment agency. However, there may be occasions where the designer will have to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the client before starting a project. 

The invoice is paid within a week, fortnight or month, depending on the terms and conditions of the agency. Once the contract is complete, the freelancer is free and available to take on a new contract, where the whole process will repeat. 

What are your thoughts? Do you think design recruitment agency freelancing is for you?

If you have any questions regarding design recruitment agency freelance, be sure to pop them in the comment section below.