Is an interim career for me?
Working as an interim manager or a contractor has many benefits, but may not suit everyone. On the plus side, it can offer a varied, flexible and rewarding career that can give you a better work/life balance. However, it can also have its challenges and many professionals fear leaving the security and benefits offered by permanent positions.
Life as an interim
This can be an exciting career that offers the chance to make a real impact to businesses and work with a number of different organisations. Interims are typically highly-skilled, experienced individuals who can quickly take the helm of a project or business scenario and make a real difference. Interim manager roles can also offer highly competitive rates of pay.
High-level interim contracts can be pressurised, as they are driven by a real business need that requires immediate leadership. A client will want to see an interim manager deliver positive results quickly and efficiently for their business. Depending on your nature, the element of pressure could either be a positive or a negative factor. Job insecurity is normally the main drawback of an interim lifestyle.
Contractors are needed at all levels of business across most sectors – not just at management level. Contractors are brought into an organisation on a temporary basis to help out with specific project needs or to fill a temporary skills shortage. Contracting can take different forms, from rolling contracts based on daily rates to fixed-term, salaried contracts. As with interim management, a career as a contractor can offer you more flexibility as well exposure to a varied range of companies and projects.
The skills required
For a successful interim or contract career, you’ll need to have the following attributes:
- Adaptability and flexibility
The ability to step into new challenges and quickly get up-to-speed with the demands of the role and the methodologies of the organisation is an essential quality. An interim career is not for everyone, as many people find it unsettling to change roles on a regular basis.
- Good under pressure
It can be stressful dealing with new people and new situations and there will be demands on the interim to demonstrate their value quickly and deliver tangible results – often in a short timeframe.
However, an interim professional/contractor will enjoy this pressure and will be confident and comfortable to get stuck in and work with new teams.
- Strong communicator
Excellent communication skills are required to offer instruction and shape processes with clarity and speed. An interim/contractor will also be able to adapt their communication skills to fit the audience and the task.
- Hand-over proficiency
You may not always be able to see a project through to completion and may have to leave a process/strategy that you initiated while it’s still in flux. With that in mind, interims need to be highly proficient in handing-over to others and establishing a robust protocol for their departure.