To make the process of searching for an assignment easier I have created a list of channels you could use to find assignments, starting of with the most valuable place that will get you the most interesting projects or the best paying assignments and closing off with places that you should avoid.
Your professional network
My advice is to begin the search for an assignments in your professional network. Are there any hiring manager or in-house recruiters/purchasers that are interested in hiring you directly? Are there any developers/product owners that you have worked with, that could propose you to a hiring manager that is in need for a kick-ass developer? Call them and explain that you are starting as a freelancer and that you are looking for an assignment. With “your network” I DO NOT mean all the intermediary recruiters that LinkedIn is full off…
This way of looking for an assignment , can open a market of assignments that are not directly posted on any platform. And you will be able to get the best price with out paying any intermediaries.
Corporate hiring platforms
The second best option are hiring platforms of the corporation it self. Some platforms that I have used to find an assignment include:
- Inhuurdesk Politie
- KvK Huurt In | Marktplaats
- Inhuurdesk NS
- Bavaria Inhuurdesk | Login (force.com)
- UWV inhuurdesk
- Overview of multiple small ones
These are all hiring platforms that are managed by the corporation it self. There are no intermediaries that are earning from your assignments.
An interesting fact: When I was searching for my first assignment, I was contacted by a recruiter. He had an assignment with the National Police, he told me to fill in some forms he had sent me. I had to fill in my CV in the National police template and include some specific description per “criteria” which contained some knock-out criteria and some nice to have’s that were optional. Per criteria I had to explain how I fulfilled that criteria trough experience and examples. After filling this all in and sending to the recruiter I started thinking… What is his added value? I started searching the web and found the direct source of the assignment the “inhuurdesk Politie”. And guess what… IT needed EXACTLY the files I filled in for the intermediary. And guess how much this intermediary would earn for forwarding these files to me? €10 per hour that I would work for the police. This is approximately €18000 per year for forwarding me a file and uploading it on the platform. Not too bad for 1 hour of work… So I kicked his ass out, and registered on the platform directly.
Usually only very large organizations have their own hiring platform for contractors. Most companies do not have such a hiring platform, however they do you use a hiring platform that is managed by a “broker”.
Broker’s platform (DAS)
Brokers usually have a reasonable and transparant price ranging from €2 to €10 per worked hour. For Example if you would bid €80, the final customer will pay €80 to you and €2-€10 to the broker for their services.
This is the way I scored my first assignment with ICTU as a Senior QA Test automation engineer. Some platforms that I have used to find an assignment include:
- Home – Inhuurdesk Portaal
- Select HeadFirst
- Between Staffing
- Staffing Solutions HintTech
“Job boards” for freelance contracts
Such platforms contain ALLOT of assignments. But also allot of duplicates, as most of them originate from one of the channels above. Most assignments are just assignments from the channels mentioned earlier but paraphrased or just copy pasted by a recruitment firm under their own name. Where they earn money for copy pasting, forwarding and initiating the bidding and after that they earn €15000+ per year from your work just for that.
Very lucrative, very evil, it so bad that my dark-entrepreneurial side whispers me to start a recruitment firm 😀
The positive side of such “Job board” is that they contain also very interesting assignments with innovative smaller companies.
If your bidding on such job board, you can check if the recruitment firm is the right channel on the following website: Kortste route – Inhuurkaart.nl
You need to know who the final client is, once you know that, you can see what the ‘shortest path’ is to that client. This can be one of the corporate/broker platforms I have mentioned earlier, using one of the these platform you can pass by the intermediary entirely. Or it can also be, that the intermediary you are talking to is actually the right party for the job and than you can continue the negotiations. By using that site you can earn €10 to €25 more per hour. Use it! :). Some “job board” I know (used personally only the first one):
Large intermediaries that have a “Framework agreements” (in Dutch: Raamovereenkomst)
For example this can be a large Intermediary that has won a tender for supplying software developers for governmental organizations’. They will usually try to fill in the vacancies internally by software developers that are employed by them self, If they are not able to fill the vacancies they will be looking for a “sub-contractor” a freelancer or a smaller consulting firm that will fill in the vacancy.
These assignments are usually not premium priced, as the company has won a tender which is usually not a premium but “bulk” sale, so they underbid their competition. Do not expect to get a high hourly rates as they need to earn some margin them self’s.
Some example companies:
Recruiters that add some kind of value
There are some intermediary recruitment firms that add some kind of value. This can entitle: Coaching, preparing for interviews, improving CV’s and such things. They usually add €15-€25 p/h on top of your hourly rate. This can be useful for some on who is starting out and needs help with such things. I did not use these services, although I must say one of the guys was very convincing, friendly and felt like he would really add value. I was thinking of joining his “freelance kick-start boot-camp” and considered it a back-up plan if I wouldn’t have been able to find an assignment my self. Luckily I found a great assignment on my own. However, there is no shame in using such a service, especially when starting out. And if such services gets more people into freelancing, I guess it is something positive.
Recruiters have usually contacts with smaller companies that are not consider major purchasers of freelance services like the government. But smaller, more innovative companies that need additional help. These assignments are usually not found on the platforms mentioned earlier and can be only found via intermediary/recruitment firms.
Recruiters are fine when looking for smaller or innovative companies and ONLY when they are adding value to the entire hiring process.
Before I started searching for my first assignment, I have been orientating on the freelance market, I have spoken to some great software developers that were already working as freelancers. They all warned me for the “parasites” in the recruitment world. Recruitment agencies that do not add any value to the hiring process except for knowing where to find the assignments, or be one of the first to “hear” about the assignment.
There are some of these intermediaries, that actually support you in the process as mentioned in the previous step, however, from my experience this is usually only the case in 20% of the time. 80% of all the other intermediaries are trying to make €10-€25p/h of your assignment without adding any value to you or your client.
These recruiters should be avoided at all cost. I will not be naming any, as you do not know when you will be in a tight spot and will need to get an assignment via a recruitment firm you are not so keen off 🙂 But you all have been warned!
I hope this post has helped you to visualize the “finding an assignment” process of a freelancer and will help you or some one you know to score a kick ass assignment in the future while earning a good hourly rate!