Making the move to interim – a few things to consider

You've forged yourself a successful career and consider yourself an industry expert. 

At this point, it is not uncommon for experienced professionals to decide to stop working as a permanent employee and to instead become a career interim.

Career interims are those who don't want a permanent job or to be tied down to a permanent employment contract.

Career interims identify that they have a specific skillset that many companies can leverage off so they consult to various firms, undertaking short-term assignments that utilise part or all of their skills. 

So what do you need to consider before making the shift from a permanent employee to a career interim? 

Shift your mindset

If you have spent your entire career in a permanent role, you will need to make some adjustments to get ready for the world of interim. Realise that there will be times that a firm has hired you for your skills, not your opinions. This may take some time to get used to. 

A business may hire you for a part of your skillset not all of it. Be mindful for what they have brought you in to do and make sure that this is what you focus your time on doing in order to deliver the results and exceed expectations. 

Make yourself available

It's all well and good that you have decided to make the move to develop an interim career, however there’s little point in then contacting recruitment agencies and telling them you are on 3 months’ notice. 

Firms hire interims for them to be available immediately. If you are not in a position to resign from a permanent role before going to interim, then interim is not for you. 

To make yourself attractive to the interim market, remain one step ahead of the game and inform your consultant/s of your availability. Keep them in the loop of when your assignment is going to come to an end so that they have time to help you secure your next role. 

Be prepared for a lull in assignments

This may not occur after every assignment though there will be times that you will be in between jobs. Don't be alarmed and don't let this knock your confidence. It's normal so there is no need to panic. 

Once an assignment comes to an end and you find yourself without employment, use this time productively. You can use this time wisely by up-skilling and/or taking the opportunity to study a course that can increase your knowledge base. 

Also, network, network, network! This is crucial. Meet with previous colleagues, industry contacts and recruitment consultants. The more people you meet, the more industry knowledge you will gain and the more likely you are to hear about any potential new positions becoming available. 

Knowledge is power so use this time to get to know what is happening out in the market. 

Know your rate of pay

What do you think you are worth? An interim is someone who can compartmentalise his or her skillset. Certain skills are worth more to organisations than others. 

Think about what you can and cannot afford. What is your absolute minimum rate? You don't want to go too low, as this may devalue your skills and experience, but at the same time you don't want to price yourself out of the market. 

If you think of your rate as a range this will give you more buying power and flexibility from one assignment to the next. 

Things to think about when you are determining your rate of pay: 

  • How long does the assignment go on for? 
  • How much do you want to work for the firm?
  • What will this assignment do for your CV? 
  • What new skills will you gain from taking on this assignment? 

These questions will determine the level of pay that you will or will not accept. 

An interim rate is not as easy as calculating your daily rate off your most recent permanent salary package. Be realistic and be flexible. 

Be selective in the assignments that you take on

The thought of being out of work can be very daunting. We see it time and time again that people jump from one assignment to another because a contract is ending only to see that a couple of weeks later their ideal job comes knocking. 

Remember that not every assignment will make you jump out of bed in the morning. Think about each assignment on its own merit and think about what value taking on an assignment will add to your skillset and your CV. 

See out your contract

If you commit to a 3 month contract, try to see out the 3 month contract. If you accept a job only to resign 4 weeks into the assignment, this could reflect badly on you when seeking future assignments. 

Be prepared for your contract to be extended. Speak with your consultant / employer in advance to see what the likelihood of this will be. If an organisation can only get sign off in 3 month blocks, but they clearly need someone for a 12-month period, make yourself available for 12 months. 

Finish the job you came in to do. You don’t want to be the person that walks out of a project that hasn’t been completed. 

Being an interim can be exciting and can certainly keep you on your toes. It will also give you flexibility and allow you to focus on the things you enjoy doing. However it is very different from permanent employment so take your time in deciding whether an interim career is for you. If it is… then get in touch.  

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