About 20% of the employed labour force in the Netherlands is self-employed (zzp’er). About 400,000 zzp’ers are active in business support services. How do you ensure that you receive an assignment as a zzp’er, what are preferred suppliers, what are dynamic purchasing systems and why should you be aware of them?
Rate too high
Van Oers, originally a business administrator, got involved in the freelance market in 2017. He looked for assignments on platforms such as Freelancer.nl and IT-Contracts.nl. “There are many websites with all kinds of assignments. I saw a job with the police on such a website and called the intermediary that was mentioned in the assignment. In terms of profile, I matched well, so I was hopeful. However, I was rejected because my rate was too high. This was due to the margin of the intermediary. Later I found out that the police have a dynamic purchasing system, a hiring marketplace. So, I could have offered myself directly to the client, without an intermediary, and then would have had a better chance. But I missed this assignment because I was not registered in their system.”
2 hiring systems
Van Oers explains that all large organisations have structured their hiring. Mainly, there are 2 systems:
This means that these parties, jointly or otherwise, have the right to propose and supply candidates. These are also known as framework contracts or framework agreements. Many freelancers work for clients through preferred suppliers.
Hiring marketplace / dynamic purchasing system
A dynamic purchasing system is an online marketplace that organisations subject to tendering use for hiring or purchasing processes. In most cases you do business directly with the client, so without the intervention of a third party. But you are only allowed to respond to an order if you have been admitted to the dynamic purchasing system. And you have to make sure that all your paperwork is up-to-date, as long as the dynamic purchasing system is in place. Van Oers: “Many governmental and semi-governmental organisations use such a system. There are about 300 dynamic purchasing systems in the Netherlands: all different clients and different types of assignments."
Van Oers was looking for an overview to see how organisations hire freelancers. Since there was no current and complete list available, he decided to set one up himself. “First for myself, later I put the information on Inhuurkaart.nl, purely out of idealism. It has no revenue model.” There are two main aspects: searching for new clients and searching for the shortest route to a final client. “I get about 400 visitors a day on my website and recently I saw the 75,000th search query.”
You sell your time, and you can only spend that time once.
Chain formation risks
By providing insight into the hiring process, Van Oers tries to make the hiring chain as short as possible. “There is quite a bit of risk associated with chain formation. For example: in the summer of 2019, intermediary TCP Direct was no longer able to pay ING's external employees. As a freelancer you are forced to work with intermediaries. But you have little protection as a freelancer because you are seen as an entrepreneur. You sell your time, and you can only spend that time once.”
The system is complex. “Assignments that are placed on dynamic purchasing systems or with preferred suppliers are also placed on all kinds of other websites, where the name of the client has often been removed and the job profile has been shortened. So, you never know whether the offering party is actually the preferred supplier.”
“A dynamic purchasing system is actually a closed box. You don't see what's in it. Suppose you see an order on the internet at a broker’s website which is also on a dynamic purchasing system. It takes time to be admitted to that system. So then there is no other option than to work through the broker. And that has consequences for your hourly rate, your chances of being awarded the assignment and the risks. So, learn about dynamic purchasing systems and register on time.”
Do you see an interesting assignment, or are you approached? Van Oers recommends always asking the following questions to an intermediary party:
- Who are you dealing with, is there a contractual relationship with the client?
- Who is the client?
- What is the margin of the intermediary party?
- What services does the intermediary provide you with?
Make sure you have insight into the hiring process of the client. You can always check this via Hiring Card with the 'shortest route' function.
More about Bas van Oers
After his studies, he worked for 5 years as an employee. He has been active as a freelancer since 2008. Founded Inhuurkaart.nl out of idealism and converted some disappointing experiences into a drive to make the hiring market transparent.
- Business Administration, Nyenrode University
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