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Interim recruitment, do you have itchy feet and suit interim work?

Posted on from Morgan Law

While the number of jobs in the public and private sector continues to dwindle, demand remains strong for interim candidates, particularly in the public sector, but are you cut out to be an interim?

Why interim?

There are many reasons why a candidate may wish to opt for an interim position instead of permanent employment. Firstly, the pay is good. Interims typically earn 25% more than a permanent employee – although they don’t get any of the Benefits given to paid employees. It’s also worth remembering that they don’t get paid for sick days or holidays.

Secondly, the career prospects are exciting for those who enjoy the Challenges of achieving goals and creating an impact in a short space of time. For those who love working in a range of different environments, becoming an interim careerist is certainly worth considering. 

And finally, interim positions offer the candidate a great deal of flexibility, enabling them to take long holidays in between roles, if they wish to do so.

What interim roles are available?

Interim jobs typically last for around three months but can, on occasion, last for as long as one to two years.

Interim positions tend to fall into the following two categories:

1. Replacing a permanent member of staff for a fixed period of time – for example someone on maternity leave or on a career break.

2. A newly created position where skills or expertise is required which the current team cannot offer. For example, managing change or a restructure, setting up a new department or handling a redundancy or downsizing programme.

From Morgan Law’s experience, the HR sector is the most buoyant in terms of interim recruitment at the moment, offering the greatest number of opportunities. This is largely due to the fact that HR’s remit is now so wide, covering everything from recruitment and change to training, development and retention. In terms of actual roles, we are regularly required to fill positions at all levels, from HR adviser to HR director or head of HR.

Who does interim work suit?

Experience is always required for an interim position. With the HR sector, for example, clients normally expect a minimum of two years’ experience. Relevant qualifications, such as CIPD or accountancy qualifications, are normally a prerequisite for an interim role.

For those with experience who want to ‘hit the ground running’, prove themselves quickly and enjoy adapting to new environments, a career as an interim specialist is certainly worth considering.

The key thing to remember as an interim candidate is not to get involved in the department or company politics. You will be given a clearly defined role, specific targets and it is important to remain focused on these.

Rights for interim workers

New measures are currently being discussed by European Union employment ministers giving Britain's temporary workers who have been employed for 12 weeks equal rights to permanent members of staff. The new legislation, likely to be implemented from 2011, would give temporary workers the same rights as permanent colleagues in areas like holiday and sick pay. It could have a significant impact on the interim career market, affecting those who are employed directly by the client, not by agencies. At this stage, much is unclear and nothing has been finalised.

Does interim provide a permanent route in?

Most interims we work with are ‘interim careerists’ but occasionally we meet people who are hoping that an interim position within a certain organisation will provide them with the experience and contacts to be offered a permanent role. While this can happen, it is certainly a rare occurrence. From a client perspective, they may welcome the opportunity to ‘try before they buy’, but are likely to want to interview other candidates, accessing a wider pool of talent, should a permanent position become available.

Long-term career prospects for interim

We are often asked by candidates about the long-term career prospects for interim careerists. If they take too many interim posts in succession, will this deter an employer from recruiting them if they ever decide to opt for permanent employment?

This is difficult to answer and depends on the situation. On the one hand, there will be a degree of skepticism about whether an interim careerist can stay in an organisation for at least three years without getting itchy feet. On the other hand, the candidate could be particularly impressive, having gained a great deal of experience in a relatively short space of time. Ultimately, if the candidate is good at selling him/herself and can reassure their prospective employer about their commitment to a permanent role, there is no reason why they should be automatically rejected because of their ‘interim past.’

Morgan Law

Morgan Law

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