tl;dr - Starting today, we'll run a 6-month trial cooperation with Modis, a recruitment company and solutions provider for IT and engineering companies. We will post selected freelance jobs from Modis in our community to help them find matching candidates more quickly.

The long version:

When I started Uplink in 2016, my main motivation was to build a "simple, fair, and transparent alternative to classic IT recruiters", and indeed for a long time, this was how I explained Uplink to people who hadn't heard about it.

Positioning Uplink to be 'against' recruiters was an easy sell when talking to companies and freelancers alike. Most of the time, it was met with agreement of how awful many recruiters are and how often they are simply a necessary evil one has to accept to be able to find freelancers/jobs or permanent employees/positions.

And indeed, in many ways, this is still the case. My personal LinkedIn, XING, and email inboxes still receive regular spam messages from clueless recruiters, pitching irrelevant projects or positions, even though it's crystal clear to everyone who bothers looking at my profiles that I am no longer working as a freelance developer (let alone ever considered a permanent position in this field).

They're not all bad, though

But as our community grew to more than 1,000 members over the years, two things happened:

First, we started hearing the complaint that we simply posted too few jobs. For almost every job there are five or more interested candidates, so we have to tell many of them that, while they are a good match for the job, we decided to introduce someone else. This is of course not a good experience for the freelancers and the risk is that some won't even bother applying anymore after not being considered a few times. So the pressure on us grew to explore new ways to find clients and jobs.

Second, over time we heard a lot of stories from freelancers and companies who were quite happy with some recruiters.

Some freelancers told us that they have a list of a few trusted recruiters that they contact once they are open for a new project. Those are the ones that really took their time to get to know the freelancers and their skills, preferences, and 'style' over the years, and could then, armed with that knowledge, often connect them to matching clients and projects at the right time.

And some of the companies we talked to said the same thing — that they've had a positive experience working with selected recruiters who got to know them very well and did a good job vetting and filtering potential candidates. Moreover, especially folks from larger companies said that recruiters solve even more of their problems. If you work in the HR department of a company that regularly employs a substantial number of freelancers, for example, you neither want to negotiate a contract with every single one of them nor do you want to receive a separate invoice from each one at the end of the month. Employing them through a recruiter allows you to work out a contract only once, and receive only one unified invoice per month. And what is maybe even more important than the simplified hiring and accounting, is that recruiters help these companies with compliance issues, and lower the risk of the much dreaded "Scheinselbständigkeit".

First contact

Realizing that recruiters do have a 'raison d'être' and our members would most likely appreciate being able to apply to recruiter jobs through our platform, we decided to explore the possibility of working with one of them. We asked our members for recommendations of who to talk to and set up lunch meetings. Many of those didn't go anywhere — either the recruiter clearly saw us as a competitor and only wanted information from us but had no interest in a serious cooperation, or they seemed interested, but after the first meeting, the continued conversation via email quickly fizzled out.

The only conversation partner who we could talk to at eye level and whose approach to recruiting to a large extent mirrors our own was Yaobang Chen from Modis. Yaobang is Area Manager Contracting for Northern and Eastern Germany, and Modis itself specializes in recruiting for IT and engineering roles and works with startups and 'Mittelstand' companies, as well as corporates. In addition to recruiting for freelance and permanent roles, they also take on client projects themselves and offer their consulting expertise.

Let's try this

Today, we are happy to announce a cooperation with Modis in the form of a 6-month trial phase, starting on February 1.

During this time, we will post a selection of Modis' freelance jobs to our community, initially focusing on clients from Berlin, and our members can apply to them. We won't charge our regular fee of 10% for these jobs, so the freelancers will keep 100% of their earnings.

I want to stress that this is not some kind of major shift away from our 'core' business, which is helping companies that want to work directly with freelancers, without any middlemen, to find the right candidates. The majority of the jobs posted to our community will still be from this kind of clients.

Moreover, we will apply the same strict quality filters to jobs from Modis that we apply to every other job, especially when it comes to the offered rate. For our current, no-middleman jobs, the minimum rate is 80€ per hour —we won't post any jobs that pay less than that. Since that rate includes our 10% fee, the freelancer keeps 72€, which will be the minimum rate for jobs from Modis from now on. Depending on the job's duties and requirements, we will, of course, filter out jobs for which this minimum is below the market price.

And lastly, this new kind of jobs will be clearly marked when we post them to our Slack workspace, so it should be easy to ignore them if you're not interested in recruiter jobs at all.

We are really excited about this cooperation and are looking forward to seeing our community's response to it! If it doesn't work out, we will not continue after the 6-month trial, but we sure hope it does.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to post a comment below this post or contact me via Slack or email.