5 Ways To Find Creative Talent Without a Staffing Agency

In the past, staffing agencies were often the quickest way to sort through prospective team members and connect with creative talent. The downsides of this often included hiring staff who didn’t always match your company culture, and confusion about whether the agency or your company was responsible for training, among other issues.

Working with staffing agencies can also be expensive, with fees ranging from 20% to 30% of a permanent full-time employee's salary and even higher for temporary staff. This financial aspect can be a challenge when partnering with staffing firms. As a result, hiring managers are seeking cost-effective and streamlined approaches to directly recruit creative talent.

With as many as 60 million people freelancing in America, it's the perfect time to learn effective approaches for accessing and engaging with this expanding talent pool. In this article, we’ll showcase five methods for locating skilled creatives without the extra time and money associated with a staffing agency.

1. Conduct skill-specific queries

When looking for top creative talent, start by narrowing things down within your company’s industry. What specific skills do your independent professionals need to possess to excel in this creative job and to get your company where you want it to go?

Once you have a list of the hard and soft skills the candidate needs, you can start making queries online, such as searching for “copywriters experienced in SEO content writing,” which will bring you to websites with the talent you’re looking for.

When you reach out to creatives, you want to be sure that your pitch is perfect. Remember, there is a growing demand for independent professionals, as nearly 60% of hiring managers who engage with independent talent say they plan to rely more heavily on freelancers in the near future. So you’ll want to make a case for why these independent creatives should choose to work for your business.

Creating personable staff introductory videos and implementing ways to attract talent can help strengthen your connection with some of the top independent talent in your field.

2. Draw on creative school rosters

Soon-to-be graduates are an excellent pool of creative talent, so consider reaching out to the administration at creative schools. By establishing connections with these institutions, you can gain access to passionate students with up-to-date skills who are eager to showcase their abilities and gain real-world experience.

You could work with local colleges and universities to create an internship program, possibly for credit. And you could have a booth at career day with attractive packages to hand out to graduating seniors. These packages can include a portfolio of previous projects and contain opportunities for these graduating students to demo work.

Collaborating with creative schools can prove to be a mutually beneficial arrangement, where you find talented creative individuals while offering promising prospects a chance to kickstart their careers.

3. Look to LinkedIn and other social media platforms

When it comes to finding creative talent without relying on a staffing agency, social media platforms like LinkedIn can be invaluable resources. LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that hosts a vast community of professionals from diverse industries, including creative fields. Professionals of every stripe go there to look for work, showcase projects, and size up the competition.

Your company’s LinkedIn page should reflect your avid and active interest in engaging these kinds of independent creative professionals. Make sure that your creative opportunities on LinkedIn and all of your other social media platforms are friendly, unique, exciting, and done with flair. This means doing more than just posting a written announcement that your company is looking to expand its roster of creatives.

Attract the right talented independent professional for you by modeling what you’re looking for in the open job posting. Consider having your current team post videos of what they like most about their projects, or share common celebratory measures your team enjoys.

Take real-time questions or problems that your current creative team is grappling with and pose them to prospective team members as open-ended questions. For example, a posted question such as, “What do you do when your old website cannot keep up with your daily hits anymore, but you don’t want to lose brand awareness by changing it?” can be an opportunity for creative contractors to showcase interest and problem-solving solutions.

4. Referrals and networking still work

Rather than relying on a staffing agency to handle networking, you can use or create your own networks and ask for your own referrals. Reach out to your colleagues, professional organizations, and industry connections to ask about potential referrals for creative talent.

If there’s a particular creative professional whose work you admire, send them an email expressing your appreciation for their work and asking a general question about their future availability. This approach not only helps you build new connections but also opens up possibilities for discovering talented creatives who may not be actively searching for opportunities.

If it turns out that this person will not be available for the foreseeable future, ask for any referrals they might be able to give you. By requesting referrals, you can tap into a wider pool of potential candidates and increase your chances of finding the right creative talent.

5. Use a platform like Upwork to find independent talent

Engaging independent talent can be tailored to fit every aspect of your business, depending on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you choose to involve independent professionals in areas such as brand awareness, marketing strategies, or core operations is entirely in your control.

Upwork specializes in connecting companies of every size with proven independent talent. Whether you need a marketing manager, art director, web designer, or any other specialized creative professional, Upwork can connect you with a wide range of independent talent.

Types of creative talent on Upwork

On Upwork, employers can find a wide range of creative talent to meet their specific needs. Here are some examples:

  • Graphic Designers. Skilled in creating visual concepts, graphic designers can assist with various design projects, including logos, branding, marketing materials, and more. They have expertise in design software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Web Developers. These professionals use their expertise in coding languages to build and maintain websites, ensuring functionality, responsiveness, and a great user experience.
  • Video Editors. Video editors are skilled in post-production processes, combining raw footage to create visually appealing videos. They have expertise in video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro.
  • UI/UX Designers. These designers specialize in user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. They focus on creating intuitive and visually appealing interfaces that enhance the user's interaction and overall experience with digital products or websites.
  • Product Designers. Product designers specialize in creating user-centric and visually appealing designs for products and services. They possess a deep understanding of user experience (UX) principles, conduct research, and create prototypes to bring innovative product concepts to life.
  • Animators. These are skilled professionals who bring static visuals to life through captivating animations and motion graphics. They possess expertise in various animation techniques and software, creating engaging visual storytelling for videos, games, advertisements, and more.
  • Content Writers. These writers create engaging and informative written content for various platforms, including blog articles, e-commerce website copy, and social media posts. They possess strong research and writing skills, as well as expertise in crafting compelling narratives.
  • Creative Directors. With their extensive experience and visionary leadership, creative directors guide and shape the creative direction of projects. They collaborate with teams to align the creative vision, brand messaging, and project objectives.

Access creative skills on demand

Finding independent talent without relying on creative staffing agencies can be a smooth and efficient hiring process. With a variety of methods available and the option to explore specialized platforms like Upwork, you have the flexibility to choose the approach that works best for you in finding top talent.

Upwork offers a convenient and reliable solution for finding independent talent across a wide range of creative disciplines. With Upwork's user-friendly platform, you can easily browse through profiles, review portfolios, and connect with skilled professionals who align with your project needs.

This seamless experience allows you to propel your business goals forward by assembling a team of talented and trustworthy independent professionals who can contribute to your success.

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Author Spotlight

5 Ways To Find Creative Talent Without a Staffing Agency
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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