Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in April 2017 but has since been updated with additional information.
Our original post provoked a lot of discussion around whether or not making the move from permanent to interim is good for career progression. At the time, some candidates were experiencing perceptions that going down the interim management route was a career-ending decision; something that was done just before you wanted to retire and would hinder, if not stymie, their chances of having another permanent role.
The post argued that the market is a lot more fluid than it used to be and that there really isn’t any reason why you can’t move between interim and permanent roles. Rather, your next career move should come down to which opportunity is of more interest to you at that point in time. Indeed, many of the comments supported this sentiment. In fact, the general consensus from those who have entered the world of interim management is that it has defined their careers and led them to enjoy considerable career progression.
Almost two years on, we wanted to revisit this conversation. We reflect back on how the market has changed. We help you to determine whether making the move to interim is right for you and provide an insight into what is involved in setting up on your own. And if you’re already working as an interim, we consider what it takes to land bigger and better opportunities.
We also invite you to share your thoughts on the market and what you expect it might look like in the future.
Newsflash! In 2008, the world changed and so did hiring
At any given point in time, people are either hiring or being hired, either as an interim manager or permanent employee. Before 2008, there was very clear segregation between interim and permanent candidates. Clients were reluctant to take on an interim in a permanent role and vice versa, for fear of them leaving for a better paid interim role or a more secure permanent role.
Our experience since then is that the market is a lot more fluid. Candidates will be open to taking a role that is interesting, that will give them the opportunity to work in a new sector, or on a project doing something they have not done before.
Of course, candidates will always have a preference but not to the extent that roles will not be considered. On the flipside, clients are now generally more flexible in their view of candidates who have done both, as they can see the benefits of what that person may have learned.
Is moving to an interim role a career ending move?
While the nature of interim placements can lend itself to candidates being senior and “over-qualified”, so their skills and experience can make an immediate impact, this does not mean that it is career ending. Yes, they may not progress up the career ladder within the role, but with the gig economy becoming more prevalent in the way people choose to approach their career progression, why should someone stay at a company once they have completed the project they signed up for? Once they have built something why wouldn’t they look to move on and build something else, somewhere else? This is not just limited to technology leadership but it is being seen more with the millennial workforce and the high skilled technologists.
The speed of change, especially within technology, is at a pace never before experienced. Candidates who have a breadth of experience and can demonstrate diverse approaches can be more interesting to organisations who want to change and transform.
Can you switch between interim and permanent roles?
Absolutely! It basically comes down to what the available opportunity is and what the client is looking to achieve.
Is interim management for you?
As an interim manager, the focus is always about delivering value, knowledge and ensuring any capability gap has been bridged once you have left the business. No two days are ever the same, and this can be both exciting and challenging.
Interim management requires someone who can make quick, but well-thought-through, decisions within a set timeframe, in order to bring about the desired outcomes. Many interim executives describe themselves as "adrenaline junkies", who thrive on "fixing" the issues presented to them in their line of work. It also requires people who are able to stay somewhat detached from the business in order to retain a focus on the task at hand, rather than worrying about office politics and pleasing everybody.
Interim management isn’t for everyone. But if you’re up for the challenge, it can be career-defining. The tests and lessons learned means you can offer more colour and depth to help you to land bigger and better opportunities in the future - whether in an interim or permanent context.
Setting up as an interim
Making the move to interim management can be daunting. There are legal and financial implications to consider. Then there’s knowing how best to promote yourself. But our consultants have put together a handy guide to the top steps that are essential for those searching for interim management positions. From how to create a Limited Company, to getting your accounts in order, and promoting yourself online, the full list of steps are covered in this blog post.
Looking for your next opportunity?
If you’re already an interim and you’re looking for something new - perhaps you want to move into a new sector, get stuck into a different type of project, or even just change location - how do you do it? Is it possible to even move around? Or once you start working as an interim in one sector, are you then tied to that sector?
It’s really no different in an interim space as it is in when looking for a change of direction in a permanent role. Networking and building successful relationships are critical to your ability to land bigger and better opportunities. Most forward-thinking companies recognise the value of an interim with broad experience, but as most interim roles aren’t advertised, retaining genuine relationships with people you’ve worked with and staying connected to recruiters are vital for securing those new opportunities.
The future of interim management and permanent assignments
With the changes in IR35 and the Government’s seemingly unending desire to decimate the contractor market in the UK, in the not too distant future it may not come down to whether a candidate is interim or permanent anyway, but rather how the candidate wants to be paid for that period of work, theirs and the client’s appetite for risk, or how best to get that resource into the business on whichever budget.
We welcome your thoughts on this?