SI Review: December 2012

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The Other Side

A Good Fit

Staffing firms have this temp coming back for more

By Kendra Payne

I have relied on staffing agencies to locate work for me since I graduated from high school. They have been a good fit for me, even today. The firms have filled in the gaps during life transitions, helped me get my foot in the door and offer real assistance when I need it.

Providing that break. My first assignment was when I was fresh out of high school as an accounts payable assistant. I quickly learned that by working with a staffing agency that I could get real world insight into the professional workforce, gain experience and make more money than my teenage counterparts working in food service or retail.

Filling in the gaps again. I’ve returned to staffing agencies when I was just finishing up college and planning to relocate. I wouldn’t have been able to find work that quickly on my own, much less be able to find an employer that would accommodate someone with one foot already in another town and place.

Widen horizons, income. Many times since, I’ve called on my friends at the staffing firm for support. I continue to use the staffing firm to supplement my freelance work as an independent graphic designer and illustrator, as well as gain introductions to new markets and clients. They’ve even helped me land a few of my dream jobs along the way. With their help I’ve been exposed to a variety of fields and client types and made matches that I am forever grateful for. Thanks to them, my client roster reads like a telephone book.

Creating stability. By working with staffing agencies I know I can expect some level of stability. My work as an independent contractor often is paid weeks after the fact, but my work through a staffing firm is paid promptly.

Quality clients. There’s also a certain level of client quality I associate with when working with staffing agency. I know they are vetted and have the funds and proper technology and tools that will allow me to feel that the client is as committed as I am to doing a great job. Compare that with jobs I find on craigslist or other online bidding sites, where I often find the client isn’t versed in standard creative business practices and know-how. I also feel that to be competitive, I have to reduce my rates significantly because I’m competing in a global market where international rates are pennies on the dollar. By working locally with a staffing agent, I don’t have to think twice about the overall ethic, process and culture and know that I’ll be compensated fairly. Thank you for that.

The right agent. Of course, all of the above is only possible if you have the right folks in charge of your career. My experience has taught me that I need an agent who really listens and fully under- stands my specific skill sets and what I’m looking for. I’ve definitely suffered in the past with the wrong agent and talent paring. I’m also completely aware when my portfolio is being presented to a client just so an agent has something to show and a personal quota to fill. If I’m not the right fit, don’t try to sell me to the client. The client doesn’t want their time wasted, and neither do I.

The basics. I have been lucky to find some dedicated professionals who have helped me land the right gig. But I would also ask that staffing firms remember the basic needs of any worker. We need feedback. Any feedback is welcome — whether it’s comments from a current client or insight as to why someone wasn’t interested in bringing me on, I’d like to know about it. Good, bad or indifferent, it’s helpful to have constructive feedback. I truly appreciate a realistic assessment, so that I can grow from here.

Work with me. Straddling the line between being an independent free- lancer and working with a staffing agency can be a challenge, as I often will have freelance projects that overlap a temp assignment. It would be helpful for my staffing firm to understand this and work with it. Don’t automatically dismiss me for asking about flexible hours, working from home and a reduced work week, for example. Your temp workers are your bread and butter. Consider working with your clients to embrace flexibility and the technology that makes remote work a real possibility and have us coming back for more.

Kendra Payne is an art director, designer and illustrator who specializes in advertising, branding and design for corporate, retail and commercial clients. Her design studio, Jolly Jackalope Studios is based in the Bay Area. She can be reached at kendra@jollyjackalope.com

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