Andrew Travers Andrew Travers is an interaction designer and researcher. He’s the author of Interviewing for research.

Andrew Travers


Recruitment isn't working

Perhaps it's time for agencies and freelancers alike to re-think how we're going about recruitment.

This month has been the first slightly tricky month for me since going freelance. A series of shifting project kick-offs, comical contractual negotiations and vanishing projects mean that - I’m doing fine - but I’ve spent rather too much time talking about work this month than doing it. I’ve been freelancing for almost two years now, so I’m very grateful not to have experienced this any sooner, but I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that recruitment is broken.

Here’s what I mean. Talking to freelancers, recruitment agencies, employers, I’m far from convinced that anyone thinks they are getting a good deal. There’s so much short-sighted, short-termist recruitment going on that wastes everyone’s time, and, eventually damages clients. No-one wants that.

I don’t know any UX freelancer who is doing it for the money. That might just say something about the people I choose to hang about with, but we do share some characteristics: a wish to exercise just a little bit of control of who we work with (clients and agencies); what we work on; and how we work. I completely expect agencies to want the same from their freelancers - to have real control of who they bring in, when and how. They shouldn’t want ‘a body’, they should want ‘a somebody’.

Often the biggest challenge I face as a freelancer are those initial days working out the style of the agency I’m working with, how they work, and where I fit within the team. It’s in the interests of freelancers and agencies alike to try and shortcut this.

I used to be a head of a user experience team, and if I was still doing it, this is what I’d be doing right now:

So, why - with a few honourable exceptions - aren’t we doing this more?