Look before you leap

Moving from permanent employment to interim work can be daunting, so do your homework, says head of interim management at VMA Group Lucinda Moores.

For many PR professionals looking for their next career move, a permanent position at another company is the first option that springs to mind. But in a world that is conducive to flexible working and where experts are becoming increasingly sought after for specific projects, the interim route presents many opportunities.

In the first instance, an interim role can really benefit your skills development. The option to move from project to project allows you to build up a portfolio of abilities and experiences in a relatively short timeframe. It can also be highly rewarding and motivational to take on new challenges and work across a variety of roles and organisations. 

At a time when employees increasingly want a better work/life balance, the interim option also allows you to have control of your time. While the hours and days you work will be agreed per project, the constraints of a permanent contract are removed. 

It can’t be overlooked as well that, for many, this option can be more financially rewarding. With expert skills in high demand, it’s common for interim professionals to see a substantial rise in average income compared with their permanent annual salaries. However, while working as an interim clearly has its benefits, the decision to make this move should not be taken lightly. This career path isn't for everyone and some people underestimate just how different it will be. Anyone looking to make this move will need to be prepared for the extra work and the change of priorities that will take place.

For example, working as an interim isn’t as secure as a permanent role. There is the risk that you will face a gap between assignments and, as a result, will need to ensure you are financially prepared should this happen. 

With careful planning and real dedication, interim work can be rewarding personally and professionally

Obviously, gaps can be reduced through careful, long-term planning and regular networking, but it’s vital that you commit the time and effort to do this. In an interim position, networking is critical, as it will enable you to develop crucial contacts that will help your search for that next assignment. To network successfully, you need to have confidence when selling yourself and your abilities, while still being honest. There are a vast number of training courses designed to help develop networking skills.

It’s also important to be aware of the administrative duties that you will now need to undertake. As a case in point, in an interim position you will need to keep up to date with invoicing procedures. Finding a good accountant will remove some of the pressure, but it’s also important to stay on top of agreement conditions for each project, even after the completion date. For example, you will need to ensure that payment terms are agreed in writing before you commence a project or contract and be clear about invoicing terms. Implement a system for tracking payments and set aside time to chase invoices.

Making the leap from permanent employment to interim is a daunting one, but, with careful planning and real dedication, it can be hugely rewarding personally and professionally. Remember as well that you don’t have to face this challenge alone – any good interim recruitment specialist will be able to both support and advise on how to successfully make this move, so make sure you use this resource.

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