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Using recruiters to your advantage

Simon Greenland is as a freelance designer who has worked with some of the worlds most well known brands, including GE, Gap, Canon, Vodafone and Microsoft. He has sat on both sides of the recruitment fence, both as a freelancer and agency side where looking for quality roles and talent is essential. Here he shares a refreshing view from both the job seekers and agencies perspective on working with recruiters – and how to use them to your advantage.


A Recruiter acts for both the candidate and the client simultaneously to broker a deal. As an Art Director and Digital Designer working on websites, SaaS products and mobile apps, I’ve sat on both sides of this recruitment fence.

In my twenties, I set out on the London freelance circuit, hopping from one creative agency to another. It was an incredible 5-year journey that took me from major players such as Wolff Olins, GAP, Canon, Microsoft and Vodafone.

A good recruiter will manage your diary, your billing and your reputation. As a candidate, I would finish one contract and within hours (sometimes minutes) along came the next assignment. It was a roller-coaster ride that would never have been possible, were it not for the Recruiter acting as my agent. I simply would not have got access to these types of clients or briefs.

Using a single Recruitment agency worked better than juggling two or three simultaneously. By building a really strong and trustworthy relationship with a single Recruiter, the foundation was set for a successful freelance career and the work just kept on flowing.

There were no upfront costs to running the business, I didn’t need to do any personal marketing or attend any interviews, and I had complete control over which Recruiters I wanted to act for me. All I needed to do was keep delivering good design.


I then did a 360 and went full-time (placed by my Recruitment agency as it turned out) and hopped across the fence. I took a position where I needed to recruit both full-time staff and freelance designers.

The digital space is unique in so many ways. Whether you are a Designer, Developer, Account Manager or Copywriter, Creativity is at the heart of what we do. If creativity is involved, it’s hugely subjective… and when it’s subjective, you need options.

Imagine an urgent brief comes in from my flagship client. If it’s a Friday and I need a top-end UX designer to start a project on the Monday, I would far rather pay the commission and have 20 world-class portfolios on my desk from candidates that are free to start when I need them.

If you are in a position where you are approached by candidates and have a lengthy list of talented Designers on your books, you are one of the lucky ones and you deserve the very best people. But it takes time to reach that point and when you add up the number of HR hours, interviews, portfolio reviews and the cost involved in placing ads, it may make for an interesting financial read.

In contrast, I could equally spend a day calling my limited network of contacts, most of who may well be working for another agency or are perhaps not quite the right fit.

A great Recruiter will have the best talent on their books. With that in mind, it’s important to select your recruitment agent wisely. Choose well, and they can deliver the best talent for your agency.


Simon Greenland is as a freelancer designer (direct to client or agency), based in Melbourne.



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