Are IT agents useful or detrimental to the hiring process?
Whether or not you like agents, they do add some value to the contractor hiring process.
Contractors, if they so wish, and feel that they can and want to do it, can find their own clients. However, agencies are an alternative way of finding clients.
Agencies Adding Value
The ways that agencies add value are:-
1. Finding clients – Agencies are far more skilled than contractors at doing this. They are far more prepared to take dozens of rejections before finding a suitable client than more sensitive contractors are
2. Setting rates – It‘s unlikely that contractors by themselves would have got rates up to their current levels. This is because they are poorer negotiators than more wily and more street wise agents
3. Processing timesheets and invoices – contractors don‘t have to wait till the client coughs up in order to get paid
4. Negotiating renewals – Again this is a job better done by agencies. They are more skilled negotiators than contractors, especially as it is a core skill and one that they are doing most days of the week
Agencies a Hindrance
Ways where they are a bit of a hindrance are:-
1. They don‘t understand the skills wanted and the relative importance of those skills. Therefore they tend to treat them all as of equal value
2. They place a barrier between those that know what the want, i.e. the Project Managers and those that can supply what they want, i.e. the skilled contractors
3. The client is far more important to them than the contractors which they see as ten a penny normally. Therefor, they will favour the client even if at the contractor‘s expense
4. Beyond getting the contractor a contract in the beginning, they don‘t add any further value. That’s except as invoice processors and contract renegotiators. The rates that they get for doing that at and after renewals are way beyond the value that they bring to the table
5. Contractors are indentured to agents. That’s because of the restrictive clause in their contracts which prevents contractors from approaching the client for more business.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Agency
Therefore, there are advantages and disadvantages of using an agency. Those of a more entrepreneurial nature. They can take the rejection AND are prepared to put in the sales and marketing footwork. They can get their own clients.
However, the rest of us (and that is the majority) still feel that it is easier to get clients through using agencies.
Of course, we will moan and groan about how much commission they are taking (sometimes with justification) and how little value they are adding (usually with justification after the original matchmaking).
However, it is better that agencies exist, especially as matchmakers, than if they didn‘t exist.
Many clients who currently take contractors probably wouldn‘t except for agencies intervening and selling them the concept.
Agents Useful or Not Useful?
So, what do our readers feel?
Are agencies more of an advantage or a disadvantage?
Is it better that there are such things as IT agencies out there or would it be better if they never existed?
Are there any advantages or disadvantages that I‘ve missed out?