The senior HR interim recruitment market an insight

Written by
Changeboard Team

23 May 2014

23 May 2014 • by Changeboard Team

Whats the current global interim market like?

From a UK financial services(FS) perspective it’s very competitive, with more candidates than opportunities. The current market consists of career interims, ex-consultants happy to be interims, and those available immediately who are ideally seeking perm but will take a contract in the meanwhile.  With the candidate market being so competitive, clients are able to take their time in finding the right solution for their needs.

Clients are still cautious about hiring, as illustrated by continued external benchmarking. Organisations are now spending more time on internal mobility and deployment, hence creating fewer external opportunities.

Our clients in Asia who have always hired permanent employees, are now actively recognising the opportunity for interim growth due to their economies becoming cautious similar to the UK & Europe.

What interim professionals are in demand?

There are a large number of recruitment roles in FS especially within banking due to new markets and restructuring of business areas. Reward experts are always in demand around September to March. Change and HR project managers are also sought-after to now sit more within the core HR team as opposed to being in the business or within a specific project team. Even more specifically HR System Project Managers are in high demand due to continued business restructuring & globalisation.

Recently, we’ve recruited for a mix of fixed-term contracts and day rates of which about half have been in recruitment, which is a fantastic sign for the market while the rest have been dispersed across HR projects and HR business partners.

Where are employers seeing talent shortages?

The main gap is at the AVP/VP level. Many HR professionals become an interim after a consistent permanent career; they may have reached director level and then made the decision to choose a flexible work-life balance or prefer change orientated roles to business as usual. Hence the roles at AVP and even VP level prove the hardest to find very capable interims who are not just ‘between’ permanent roles and who will commit to an interim assignment.  

There’s also a lack of strong compensation and benefits experts with equally strong communication skills and with FSA regulation experience ranging from analysts through to directors.

Furthermore there is also a shortage of experienced in-house banking recruiters. The recent trend has been for financial houses to have RPOs on site and reduce the internal recruitment team but when hiring, expectations are still for in-house banking experience.

How have employers expectations changed recently?

Cost is ‘king’ at the moment, so there’s been a shift towards fixed-term contracts (FTC) and not automatically day-rate hiring especially if the company doesn’t have headcount restrictions.

Clients expect more experience for their money, or expect to pay less than they have previously for the same experience. Hence day rate salaries have been stagnant/reduced recently.

There’s now a far greater need for all HR interims to have change and/or restructuring experience. This is to mirror the business where so many of the FS organisations have either been or are currently restructuring and/or outsourcing. This is required even of the very transactional HR roles. Also, the desire for international experience especially outside of continental Europe is far greater than ever before.

Employers now often look to internal mobility as a way of retaining quality employees. This has proved to be very effective, except where companies have to factor in dual careers for the individual and their partners.

There is currently a minimal need for strategic visionary HR interims – the market needs good, operational HR experts be it at the AVP or senior director level. All interims need to be able to communicate effectively and straightforwardly with the business about day-to-day needs.

What are your expectations for 2012?

Currently demand is cautious but definitely on the rise across all levels of HR since Q1 this year. It’s clear that quarters 3 and 4 will be more buoyant due to the number of interim recruiter roles available. This will in turn increase the need for HR once these business roles have been put in place. Interims will continue to be called upon before permanent head counts increase. Also interims are the way to ensure projects are successfully completed with a guaranteed exit and hence end of cost. Furthermore the current trend for FTCs will reduce and go back to day rate hiring.

Also the FS market will be distracted over summer with the Olympics which is predicted to affect interims as a lot of organisations are expecting employees to work from home.

Top tips - your interim CV

  • Make it 4 pages maximum
  • Don’t write a ‘skills-based’ CV – stick to chronological assignments
  • Include dates for all your projects
  • Keep it succinct – don’t write in paragraphs
  • Clearly illustrate your results & your impact on the business, such as cost savings or restructuring projects.

About Leathwaite

Leathwaite Interim was established in 2007. Our experienced consultants understand the challenges of a changing and complex market.  Supported by our global search practices, we have access to seasoned interim consultants with industry and functional subject matter expertise and ex management consultants who are experienced change agents. They thrive on being placed into scenarios of change and uncertainty and objectively work towards mutually agreed outcomes.  We are able to source interims in the areas of gap cover, interim to permanent, strategy, project/programme management, transformation, end to end delivery.