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Old Feb 18, 2007, 10:12 PM   #1
Mohinder
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Mac/Print based recruitment agencies in London?

I'm slightly unsure of how much use this thread will be, but I figure there's a fair few guys from the UK on here, and a good amount of those are pretty likely to be working in and around London.

I'm looking for a recruitment agency to help me find work in London as a Mac Operator, or move into the print side of things. I've been working away from Macs for a couple of years now and I've begun to realise that I did enjoy it, and I want to get back into it, and the whole London thing is very daunting to me, so finding a few agencies that can help me will make it all much less threatening

Has anyone used an agency to source work in London? Who did you use, and how did you find them? Any help with this would be much appreciated, the time has come to make something of myself, and a few pointers as far as recruitment agencies (or even good publications/websites to search for jobs through) would really be of great help to me.

If it helps, the work I was doing before was for a local newspaper group and was based around Quark and Photoshop for the most part. What I'm looking for is really any setting work or general Mac Operator work, and I'm quite interested in the possibility of starting a career in the print trade. I have a few things I'm looking into but any other pointers would be much appreciated.

Thank you
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 02:21 AM   #2
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I'm fairly sure most agencies will now sit you down in front of a Mac and test you but saying that, here's three. I can't add much more than that as I haven't stepped foot in an agency for a long time. Good luck.

http://www.dagmar-tara.com/
http://pages.workstation.co.uk/
http://www.macpeople.co.uk/
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 02:28 AM   #3
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I used to be an IT recruitment consultant in London, 10 years ago. Look at www.jobserve.com. It is used by all the agents, a kind of dumping ground for all there positions. The number of Mac based jobs has increased dramatically since I was in the business. Most are Mac/Windows cross platform support (Helpdesk/1st/2nd line support), some have application support too such as photoshop, quark, indesign and final cut, there is the odd operator position too. More interesting is that there are now some Cocoa etc development jobs available in the UK.

Try contacting any local printers, prepress houses or publishers directly. Before I was a recruitment consultant I worked in Media sales on an Print Industry magazine called Printing World, we used to carry some Mac Operator type positions there, I can't find its website though. There were two other magazine which might be worth a look, one was called The British Printer and the other Print Week.


Oops, just found the jobs link for the magazinbe, several Mac operator jobs advertised atm.
http://jobs.printweek.com/jobs/?fuse...eIDs=&x=21&y=3

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Old Feb 19, 2007, 05:54 AM   #4
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www.mad.co.uk
www.smallworldrecruitment.com
www.gumtree.com (go to the graphics section of jobs)
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 10:54 AM   #5
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 01:38 PM   #6
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Recruit Media, though personally I'd stay away from them (all recruitment sites) as they sap ......$ from your salary.

Try looking in the design mags like Creative Review, Design Week etc, usually plenty of jobs going in the back of those, worth just checking companies websites too, many of the best consultancies and agencies won't have anything to do with recruitment companies, and for good reason too.
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 01:54 PM   #7
Case-sensitive
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I'd advise trying to get some indesign training asap - specifically a transfer course for quark-users. A lot of publishers are still using quark but a substantial number have jumped ship. A knowledge of both dtp packages would increase your appeal.
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 03:11 PM   #8
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though personally I'd stay away from them (all recruitment sites) as they sap £...€...$ from your salary.
I'm in LA but I going to assume it's very much the same thing there. I agree with iGav, avoid them if you can, you just end up shortchanging yourself. Also keep in mind that all the contacts they open up to you generally belong to them. If you what to do business with any of these people the agency gets a cut. Even if you quit doing business with the agency it doesn't mean that you are fully free to do business with these contacts without someone paying the agency. Take a hard look at that before you go anywhere.



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Old Feb 19, 2007, 03:17 PM   #9
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Recruit Media, though personally I'd stay away from them (all recruitment sites) as they sap ......$ from your salary.
Just out of interest, what sort of percentages are we talking?
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 03:56 PM   #10
Mohinder
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I'd advise trying to get some indesign training asap - specifically a transfer course for quark-users. A lot of publishers are still using quark but a substantial number have jumped ship. A knowledge of both dtp packages would increase your appeal.
This is definitely something I've been thinking about. It'd be a good refresher, too. As I've not been working with Quark, I've forgotten some stuff. I've been copying pages from magazines and so on just to brush up and remember things, but some sort of training really might be a good idea. InDesign does seem to be the future too. I'll have a look.

Thanks for all these links all of you, I'll have a good gander at them all
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 05:42 PM   #11
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...specifically a transfer course for quark-users

Quark is still a major player in the UK. Every external agency we use (probably 6-8) still predominantly uses Quark; I commission a lot of work each year. However, many large outfits and inhouse setups moved to InDesign early because of the substantial savings and ease of license management; something Quark is just starting to set right.

Anyway, an excellent training outfit is Media Training. I've used them before.
http://www.mediatraining.ltd.uk/

And in this case, specifically this course.
http://www.mediatraining.ltd.uk/cour...p?CourseID=341
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 06:05 PM   #12
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Recruit Media, though personally I'd stay away from them (all recruitment sites) as they sap ......$ from your salary.

Try looking in the design mags like Creative Review, Design Week etc, usually plenty of jobs going in the back of those, worth just checking companies websites too, many of the best consultancies and agencies won't have anything to do with recruitment companies, and for good reason too.
As I pointed out - www.mad.co.uk is the website that holds the online job ads for creative review and design week as well as other mags...
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Old Feb 20, 2007, 06:45 AM   #13
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Just out of interest, what sort of percentages are we talking?


I can't say for certain what margins media agents work on, but I can give you an idea for IT agents. Basically I was not allowed to place anybody for less that 20% margin, in fact my sales manager would not sign off on any deal less than this. The rule of thumb is get as big a margin as you possibly can. I inherited on contractor after another agent left and his margin was over 100%, when he renewed his contract I desperately tried to reduce this, partly out of shame and partly out of embarrassment, but he just wouldn't take any more. The client was a local authority so they insisted on paying the rate their budget had set and increasing this incrementally as he renewed every 3 months or so. It certainly was not uncommon for margins to be as high as 30-40%.

The only exceptions to this were where supply deals were in place. In these cases the agents worked on a fixed margin, usually of 13-15% or so depending on the volume of work coming through and the number of other agents being used. I knew of one sole supply deal with a prestigious Docklands based finance house which was 10%.


I know that here in Saudi it is not uncommon for the agents to be taking 200%. Fortunatley I am employed directly by the Government so I don't have to deal with the crushing blow of finding out just how much my agent is making off of my back.


If you do end up using an agent - for temp work-, the only advice I can give you is don't let them bully you into something your not happy with. Read the contract carefully and ask the agent questions about the resignation clause, make sure you know who is paying you and when. The agency should have a contract with the client which mirrors yours. often the client will not allow resignation, and I have seen agents simply strike this out of the contractor contract when challenged by the contractor, this can lead to all sorts of plroblems later.

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Old Feb 20, 2007, 10:09 AM   #14
iGav
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Just out of interest, what sort of percentages are we talking?
Depends... You can easily lose 10% straight off the bat, now that could be a one off 10% of the annual salary, or 10% for the duration of your contract, depends.

I've used one recruitment agency once, and that was because I was interested in working on London Underground's innovative XTP project back in 2001/2002. Viacom Outdoor holds the contract for all advertising on London Underground, and they only used recruitment agencies for this position so I didn't have much of a choice.

I can't remember what exactly the terms were, but I seem to recall it was something like 10% over 12 months, which I think would've worked out around 4.5k less in my pocket over a year if I remember rightly. Suffice to say I was disappointed, particularly when I'd been used to more than that in annual bonuses previously.

Now days though, a lot of the best design companies simply won't use a recruitment agency, preferring to hold their own interviews... that way they can interview those that meet the criteria, rather than just having heaven knows what slung at them from the recruitment company.

It's also massively beneficial to the candidate, as this then allows you to negotiate your own terms, salaries, benefits, bonuses etc. something that is often out of your control if you use a recruitment firm. It's a similar thing on the union front too.
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Old Feb 20, 2007, 01:15 PM   #15
ATD
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Just out of interest, what sort of percentages are we talking?
A friend of mine runs a very busy design studio and hires freelancers all the time. For a while he tried the using an agency to get freelances. The people he got from an agency where costing him about $65 to $75 per hour. He paid the price figuring if they are worth the money. After a short while it became very clear to him that the people he hired on his own at $35 to $50 per were far better than any agency person he ever hired. One of the agency people got was so bad he asked them for a full refund, the person spent 2 days looking stock photos on Google Images.

I would say that's at least 50% mark up with no guaranty that it's money well spent.


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Old Feb 20, 2007, 01:35 PM   #16
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A friend of mine runs a very busy design studio and hires freelancers all the time. For a while he tried the using an agency to get freelances. The people he got from an agency where costing him about $65 to $75 per hour. He paid the price figuring if they are worth the money. After a short while it became very clear to him that the people he hired on his own at $35 to $50 per were far better than any agency person he ever hired. One of the agency people got was so bad he asked them for a full refund, the person spent 2 days looking stock photos on Google Images.

I would say that's at least 50% mark up with no guaranty that it's money well spent.
I wonder what the agency were actually paying through to those staff from the 50% markup though.
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Old Feb 20, 2007, 04:38 PM   #17
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I wonder what the agency were actually paying through to those staff from the 50% markup though.
It makes you wonder...


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Old Feb 21, 2007, 02:18 AM   #18
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It makes you wonder...

If you mean what the contractor recieved from thet 50% then I can guarantee nothing, otherwise it wouldn't be a 50% margin. If you mean the agent, it's anyones guess as it will depend on the comission structure the agency uses, but I would be surprised if the agent was on more than 20%, i.e, if the 50% = $10, the agent would get $2
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Old Feb 21, 2007, 02:51 AM   #19
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Interesting stuff, Attonine, Gav and ATD, thanks. A lot of job ads say "No agencies" and that'll be why then.
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Old Feb 21, 2007, 02:52 AM   #20
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If you mean what the contractor recieved from thet 50% then I can guarantee nothing, otherwise it wouldn't be a 50% margin. If you mean the agent, it's anyones guess as it will depend on the comission structure the agency uses, but I would be surprised if the agent was on more than 20%, i.e, if the 50% = $10, the agent would get $2
I was only basing that on the end number cost between what most freelancers get on their own and what the agency may charge for a freelancer. Since you are an insider maybe you can enlighten me here. If a freelancer can get $50 per hour on their own but chooses to let an agency get work for them at $75 per hour, would the agency generally pay them $50 an hour or because they are setting things up, would it be less? Or more? Sorry if that's a loaded question.

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Interesting stuff, Attonine, Gav and ATD, thanks. A lot of job ads say "No agencies" and that'll be why then.

Another angle on this that I saw recently. A friend of mine is a freelancer that has his own clients and has an agency getting additional work for him. He is very good at what he does so I'm not tying to imply that all agency people aren't worth it. Through the agency he got a freelance gig at a design studio I also do work with. The design studio liked him a lot, they wanted to hire him there full time. After looking at the fees they had to pay per hour to have him there as a freelancer and/or the fee it would take to hire him full time they had to pass, he was let go. Sometimes an agency can get you something you couldn't get on your own and sometimes it can work against you.




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Old Feb 21, 2007, 03:34 PM   #21
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Often the client will give the agent a ballpark figure of what they are willing to pay. An experienced agent will generally know what contractors with that skillset and experience will be asking. More often than not, the client will put forward a figure which is too low, and contractors will be looking for something that is too high. This is where the sales part comes in, the agent needs to find a contractor suitable for the client and maintain a margin that the sales manager will sign off on, in my case it was at least 20%, anything less and I would be forced to go back to each party and try to renegotiate to maintain my margin, if I couldn't, all parties would lose out. Usually it is easier to squeeze the contractor. If a contractor is particularly good, it may be possible to push the client, though this would be very rare. It also depends on the relationship the agent has with the client, a good relationship may allow more flexibility from the client.

If the contractor finds something himself, he may need to go an agent because of both legal and financial reasons. Financially, agencies give clients 90 days to pay the bills, in this case salaries, but agencies must pay the contractors weekly based on submitted timesheets, often clients do not or cannot deal with these for temporary workers. Legally there may be things such as insurance, where the contractor is not insured to be on site unless they are covered by an agency contract, also a contractor is just that, the client can fire them at will with no recorse and has no obligations with regard to benefits payments. In such cases agents will take what they can get, 2%, 4%, 5%, it basically just covers costs. But this will come out of whatever the contractor has negotiated with the client, the client certainly will not add on an extra x% for the agency fee.

As for a client buying a contractor off of an agent and taking him on permanently, this is a big one off payment which will be stipulated in the client-agent contract. This happened to me once and was a very nice bonus onto my target and commission. Often the contracts will stipulate that the contractor cannot go back and work for that same client for x amount of time, and if he does it must be through the same agent. So no resigning a contract and going permanent if you like the company.

The reason job ads say "no agencies" is mainly because agents jump on all job ads and flood the advertiser with calls trying to pick up and work on the vacancy. Ask any manger who recruits, they are pesterd all day by telephone calls from agents. Of course, most companies don't want to pay agency fees if they can be avoided. There are reasons to use agencies, especially for short term positions. Personally, if I was in a position to hire permanent staff I would never use an agency, but some managers just don't want, or have the time to wade through 100s of CVs, most of which are unsuitable, or maybe find it difficult to fill particular skillsets, in which case specialised agencies who deal in virtical markets are in a much better position to come up with candidates who are available immediately.

A very long winded answer, sorry. Hopefully you can see that it is important for both contractor and client to use agents they trust and get along with (particularly for the contractor, you want to make sure you are going to get paid the correct amount at the correct time, I knew of agencies that were notorious for late payments). This often takes a lot of trial and error. There are reputable agencies out ther, there are also a lot which are pure sales focused on getting money now rather than nurturing a relationship.

Now, where's spell check on this thing............



(I should point out that I am coming from a UK perspective and from the IT temporary contract industry, I know things work slightly differently in different industry sectors and in the US)

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Old Feb 21, 2007, 04:53 PM   #22
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Often the client will give the agent a ballpark figure of what they are willing to pay. An experienced agent will generally know what contractors with that skillset and experience will be asking. More often than not, the client will put forward a figure which is too low, and contractors will be looking for something that is too high. This is where the sales part comes in, the agent needs to find a contractor suitable for the client and maintain a margin that the sales manager will sign off on, in my case it was at least 20%, anything less and I would be forced to go back to each party and try to renegotiate to maintain my margin, if I couldn't, all parties would lose out. Usually it is easier to squeeze the contractor. If a contractor is particularly good, it may be possible to push the client, though this would be very rare. It also depends on the relationship the agent has with the client, a good relationship may allow more flexibility from the client.

If the contractor finds something himself, he may need to go an agent because of both legal and financial reasons. Financially, agencies give clients 90 days to pay the bills, in this case salaries, but agencies must pay the contractors weekly based on submitted timesheets, often clients do not or cannot deal with these for temporary workers. Legally there may be things such as insurance, where the contractor is not insured to be on site unless they are covered by an agency contract, also a contractor is just that, the client can fire them at will with no recorse and has no obligations with regard to benefits payments. In such cases agents will take what they can get, 2%, 4%, 5%, it basically just covers costs. But this will come out of whatever the contractor has negotiated with the client, the client certainly will not add on an extra x% for the agency fee.

As for a client buying a contractor off of an agent and taking him on permanently, this is a big one off payment which will be stipulated in the client-agent contract. This happened to me once and was a very nice bonus onto my target and commission. Often the contracts will stipulate that the contractor cannot go back and work for that same client for x amount of time, and if he does it must be through the same agent. So no resigning a contract and going permanent if you like the company.

The reason job ads say "no agencies" is mainly because agents jump on all job ads and flood the advertiser with calls trying to pick up and work on the vacancy. Ask any manger who recruits, they are pesterd all day by telephone calls from agents. Of course, most companies don't want to pay agency fees if they can be avoided. There are reasons to use agencies, especially for short term positions. Personally, if I was in a position to hire permanent staff I would never use an agency, but some managers just don't want, or have the time to wade through 100s of CVs, most of which are unsuitable, or maybe find it difficult to fill particular skillsets, in which case specialised agencies who deal in virtical markets are in a much better position to come up with candidates who are available immediately.

A very long winded answer, sorry. Hopefully you can see that it is important for both contractor and client to use agents they trust and get along with (particularly for the contractor, you want to make sure you are going to get paid the correct amount at the correct time, I knew of agencies that were notorious for late payments). This often takes a lot of trial and error. There are reputable agencies out ther, there are also a lot which are pure sales focused on getting money now rather than nurturing a relationship.

Now, where's spell check on this thing............



(I should point out that I am coming from a UK perspective and from the IT temporary contract industry, I know things work slightly differently in different industry sectors and in the US)


Thanks for taking the time to give such a long answer Attonine

Out here (LA) I see agencies working well for 2 types of things. One where a freelancer is needed right this minute and there is a few days of work. The other is very high end positions that are not advertised and require a introduction just to get in the door. In some cases the company doesn't want to play their hand that they are looking to replace someone.

As far as the "no agencies", I'm getting a brief taste of that right now. A friend of mine just left a job of 10 years and signed with an agency. He listed me as reference and one of his own clients. Since then I'm getting flooded with phones calls and emails from the agency even though I'm not looking for anyone and I have expressed zero interest in their services.



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Old Feb 22, 2007, 06:19 AM   #23
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This thread's been really useful for me because I'm thinking of getting (back) into Mac sysadmin-type work, and a fair few of these print companies on agency sites seem to want IT people for that role.

I haven't ever been found employment through an agency before now, and I have to say that I am skeptical of the level of service I'm likely to get from one, having enrolled with several when I was living in London. Still, don't have long before my current contract expires, so will need to give this some thought.

I have a friend who is a manager at a Mars plant. They choose to hire agency staff (mainly Polish) purely because it allows them to effectively fire someone at a day's notice. I think it's sad that agencies are taking a huge commission on the work of lots of low wage earners like these. There's something wrong when an employer is paying the contract staff quite a lot less than a 'real' employee just so they can get around employment law.
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Old Feb 22, 2007, 09:35 AM   #24
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This thread's been really useful for me because I'm thinking of getting (back) into Mac sysadmin-type work, and a fair few of these print companies on agency sites seem to want IT people for that role.

I haven't ever been found employment through an agency before now, and I have to say that I am skeptical of the level of service I'm likely to get from one, having enrolled with several when I was living in London. Still, don't have long before my current contract expires, so will need to give this some thought.

I have a friend who is a manager at a Mars plant. They choose to hire agency staff (mainly Polish) purely because it allows them to effectively fire someone at a day's notice. I think it's sad that agencies are taking a huge commission on the work of lots of low wage earners like these. There's something wrong when an employer is paying the contract staff quite a lot less than a 'real' employee just so they can get around employment law.
You have to understand there are different types of agency working in different markets filling different requirements. Although I am not familiar with what is going on at your friends Mars plant, I would imagine these workers are low skilled manual labour/conveyer belt work or office admin type staff. Low skilled, high turnover and relatively low paid, but a lot of them. I am sure your friend at Mars does not interview these people, but simply tells the agenciy that he needs x number of people to do this specific job, and the agency duly sends them. In this case I would imagine the agencies are working on a relatively low margin, are not particularly interested in contractor care, the contractors are essentially bodies filling a space ( a crude way to put it I know). These are the agents most people are used to dealing with for summer college holiday work.

I am sure that Mars would say that they are not getting around employment law, but adhearing to the law, and that if they could employ permanent staff they would, but just can't find them. Or that to employ the workers permanently would raise costs which would have to be passed onto the consumer which would ultimately be bad for both the business and the consumer.

When you start dealing with the professions, the case becomes slightly different. In the IT industry the contractors must have a limited company, this may be the case with designers, graphic arts and video editors too, I don't know. You are dealing with highly skilled and in demand people, or are supposed to be anyway. It is in the agents own interest to only put forward good people, this will hopefully mean repeat business. Ideally, the client only wants to see one CV, interview this person and take him on. It is also in the agents interest to make sure the contractor is happy, and has a rate comensurate with peers he will be working with. The agent does not want the contractor to resign( probably not permitted in the contract, but in reality the agent can't do anything about it), and hopefully the contractor will renew the contract. Now, this is the theory. In reality, as has been mentioned in this thread, aften contractors are not as good as they should be, agents can be cut-throat and just after the quick $$$, they can lie about everything. This goes back to some of my earlier statements about finding an agent you trust and can work with, easier said than done, I know.

Often companies choose to use contractors because they cannot find permanent staff to fill the role (contractors are usually making more money than perms for the same position). Sometimes the project is short term, or there is an emergency, something has gone wrong, or the role is very specific.

On the flip side, contracting is not for everyone. Some people simply cannot deal with not knowing when the next pay cheque will be coming in. They also cannot deal with not being consulted in the workflow of the project, but simpy being told to "do this now", ultimately what they were contracted for.


As for your Mac sysadmin stuff, I really recommend jobserve.com. If it's your first contract, the agent should help you set up your limited company and refer you to an accountant that is used to dealing with contractors. The agency I worked for would even pay to set up the company. Good luck
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Old Feb 22, 2007, 10:04 AM   #25
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You have to understand there are different types of agency working in different markets filling different requirements.
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When you start dealing with the professions, the case becomes slightly different. In the IT industry the contractors must have a limited company, this may be the case with designers, graphic arts and video editors too, I don't know. You are dealing with highly skilled and in demand people, or are supposed to be anyway. It is in the agents own interest to only put forward good people, this will hopefully mean repeat business. Ideally, the client only wants to see one CV, interview this person and take him on. It is also in the agents interest to make sure the contractor is happy, and has a rate comensurate with peers he will be working with. The agent does not want the contractor to resign( probably not permitted in the contract, but in reality the agent can't do anything about it), and hopefully the contractor will renew the contract.
I echo the same thoughts, within the IT field, you will generally tend to find that you'll get a reasonable rate. There are agency margins - which you can view as the 'cost of doing business'.

My own experience with agencies has been more or less positive. There are a couple of 'dodgy' organisations out there but then there are also the ones that operate professionally and as long as you get a reasonable market rate, let them take their margin.
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