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Oh what a tangled web

Oh what a tangled web

Following National Freelancer’s Day last week and the many positive things that entailed – James Bellini’s vision for the future, David Cameron’s positive support for the freelance community, Sue Lawley’s lecture on being a freelance – I find myself plunged back into the gloomy frustration of trying to find work in the modern agency-driven market.

I’m in that position by virtue of doing the job properly. Once the project I was working on had been delivered, the client (quite rightly) decided there was no need for six project managers to run three workstreams, so away went the freelance ones. OK, that’s part of the deal of being a freelance, and it looks good as an IR35 defence, but it’s still a little frustrating.

For one thing, my contract ran to the end of December and had a two week notice period in it. I actually got a shade over 12 working hours. I’m not going to labour the point with the client for various reasons but it is indicative of the cavalier attitude to contractual matters that most clients seem to exhibit.

More annoyingly, sat between my company and my client were an agency and an intermediate consultancy, taking between them rather more income from the contract than I was getting for actually doing the job (something I discovered having been asked to do some project costing reconciliations…). Given that I’ve heard nothing from the consultancy, and had but one pointless email from the agency, you have to wonder just exactly what they are doing there. Nothing for me, that’s for certain…

So there you have the life of the modern freelance in a nutshell. Do the job to time and budget, bail the client out of various black holes on the way, thanks very much, now go home and don’t bother us.

So back to the agony-ridden world of the agencies. Spoken to a few over the last few days and I’m pleased to report that the Pareto rule still applies: out of any ten agents, two will know what they’re doing and eight are selling double glazing. I’m a fairly widely experienced kind of bloke; the last three roles have embraced being a Head of IT, a Service Delivery Manager and a business-oriented Project Manager. I’m not going for technical roles and I stay away from projects where I have no knowledge of the requirement, such as SAP or CRM implementations; instead I only really go for jobs I know I can do.

So it’s a little frustrating to be told by someone billed as a Senior Recruitment Consultant with a whole 8 months experience in recruitment (I looked them up in LinkedIn) that I’m too technical to be considered for a project management role that actually has to deal with the business users. Thank God one of us knows what they’re talking about…

Still, early days and I’m not seriously expecting to get anything this side of Christmas. Plus over the last day or so most of the London-based offices where the bulk of the work is to be found seem to be closed for some reason. Well it’s a bit chilly out there I suppose/

So to complete the saying, “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”. I wonder how many clients appreciate just how totally average their expensive recruitment consultancies really are…

Alan Watts can found at LinkedIn.
© 2010 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Image: Overcrowding in the Death Cup by ShellyS

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