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How can you make the move into interim?

Posted on from VMA Group

Julie Quick outlines the considerations HR professionals should undertake when looking to move into an interim career.

Why do you want to move to interim?

Before we look at how to move into an interim career, it’s important to consider why. If you're on the verge of choosing the interim path, typically you’ll already have had a successful career, possess strong business acumen and a range of specialist skills to offer potential employers.

But also crucial is the mindset. Until your first interim assignment is under your belt, it’s difficult to fully understand the industry, all its facets and what’s entailed in making/ establishing a successful and sustained presence in this market.

What's your motivation for going interim?

There are a multitude of reasons why professionals choose the interim route; you might be driven by a desire for independence or a more varied career.

Whatever your motivation, it’s important to identify your reasons and be clear about them. This will ensure you’re taken seriously in an industry that’s long established, for over 20 years, remains competitive, is full of highly experienced interims and providers and many longstanding networks and relationships that traverse organisations and sectors. Therefore an interim career is not a stop gap until you find a permanent job; it’s a distinct career path and you need to decide if it’s for you.

How can your experience add value?

Clients look to interims to deliver, whether that’s strategy, process or change. Therefore in order to add value, identify your areas of expertise, know your capabilities and strengths and be able to demonstrate these with specific examples of achievements, projects worked and impact on the bottom line.

Make your experience tangible by relating it to the business in which you work and the sector and show you have a commercial understanding of this environment. Then translate all this into a CV. 

A skills-based version may be more appropriate if your career to date has been permanent. This will allow you to break down your experience and work history into specialist areas and highlight your strengths. This can prove an invaluable exercise and will ensure you are fluent in how your skills can impact and add value to your client.

Develop your business strategy

As an interim, marketing, networking, how and to whom you market your business is paramount and key to your success. So after honing your business proposition, being confident in your abilities, expertise and clear on your unique selling points, the next stage is to consider your audience and start making inroads. This could be a two pronged approach as you look to established interim providers and your own network. Visit the IMA – Interim Management Association website for a list of established interim providers.

To set up your own network, start with former colleagues and business associates; don’t limit yourself to your own profession, cross industries and disciplines, as more introductions will lead to more potential opportunities and also increase your market knowledge and understanding.

View this as part of a longer term networking strategy and as an investment. Ensure that you spend time making quality introductions, perhaps explore how both parties can benefit from the connection. A tool such as LinkedIn is invaluable in staying connected, growing and managing your network. It will also keep you abreast of networking groups and events to attend.

How do I calculate interim salary?

Other elements to consider and research include your market worth; how to price yourself and remain competitive. 

Follow this link to our salary convertor calculator. Based on an industry standard calculation, it will equate your last permanent salary into a day rate figure. This is merely a guidance tool, and should be used solely as a benchmark.

Always be flexible; be prepared to move this down as well as up, particularly if you’re considering your first assignment. Seasoned interims are a flexible resource driven by the content and key deliverables of a role or project and will value or price the work rather than themselves, being proven with a demonstrable track record will increase your worth in the long run.

Do your research; investigate the administration aspects of working through your own company versus working on a fixed term contract and once again be flexible on how you want to work.

Key skills of a successful interim

Key skills/attributes that contribute to an IM being successful and highly sought after include:

  • Highly credible with a proven track record of delivery, Results driven with key measurements
  • Effective communicators and influencers and strong networkers
  • Commercially focused
  • Ability to handle ambiguity and some uncertainty
  • Well organised with good project and time management skills
  • Often a problem solver who is able to operate inside the team but outside any company politics
  • Skilled change managers
  • Autonomous and independent, yet team players
  • The ability to plan and deliver Results and ‘exit’ and organisation once you have delivered (if appropriate, ensuring legacy skills are left).

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