Tempted by the idea of an interim role? Making the move from a permanent to an interim position can revitalise your career — but is it the right move for you?
Before you make the switch, we’ve spoken to two of our experts about what you should consider if you’re thinking about moving to an interim position.
“In an interim role, your average annual salary will be around 20% to 25% more than you would receive in the equivalent permanent position,” says Leon Hofman, manager of Robert Walters’ interim division in the Netherlands. As he explains, this amount is based on a candidate working an entire 12-month period, and the total figure would be based largely on how much an individual candidate actually works. “Don’t forget that between contracts you won’t be getting paid, so any salary increases will need to be offset against the periods where you aren’t receiving an income.”
“Generally speaking, you don’t receive the same type of benefits package in an interim role as you do in a permanent position,” says Kylie McGillivray, managing consultant at Robert Walters New Zealand. Benefits like health insurance, pension plan, life insurance, annual leave and even Christmas parties that are common in permanent positions aren’t usually offered in interim roles, she adds. “However, you may be able to negotiate an hourly or daily rate that increases your take-home pay and offsets these losses, giving you the choice of how you spend your compensation.”
Type of work
“If you have a project-based mindset and you work well with deadline-oriented individuals, then moving into an interim role may well be the right decision for you,” says Kylie. Many interim roles will also require candidates to demonstrate strong interpersonal skills, she adds, as these qualities are what sets these professionals apart from those in permanent roles. “It’s important you demonstrate strong emotional maturity and flexibility in your approach to work, while showing the ability to navigate any political issues within the constraints of the role for which you’ve been contracted.”
“If you want to be an interim manager you’ve got to have an entrepreneurial mindset,” says Leon. “And that’s something that a lot of candidates forget.” As he explains, interim candidates need to spend a lot of time investing in their relationships with recruiters, agencies and companies, networking wherever they can to ensure they build the connections they need for their career to prosper. “The role of an interim manager may be more commercial than you’re used to, and if you don’t like that approach it may be that an interim role is not suitable for you.”
“Interim positions offer a great deal more flexibility than permanent roles, meaning you’ll be able to take extended time off when a role finishes — perfect if you want to travel or study between contracts,” says Kylie. Interim candidates typically plan to work between nine and 12 months a year, which, for some, will make up for the lack of other benefits offered by a permanent role such as annual leave, she says. “In an interim role, you are paid to deliver results rather than for presenteeism, therefore, if you’re organised and efficient, you can leave the office on time and pursue your interests outside of work.
“While independence and flexibility are two of the main selling points when it comes to taking an interim position, a downside is the lack of security that these roles offer,” warns Leon. As he explains, if a candidate falls sick or sustains an injury which means they can’t work, then they won’t get paid because they are not entitled to sick leave, which is important to consider if you’re supporting a family or have mortgage repayments to make.”
“If you want to become a CFO within five years, then I wouldn’t recommend moving into an interim role because you won’t necessarily be developing your career in the new role,” explains Leon. Employers expect interim candidates to come in and make an impact straight away, he says, which means candidates are often hired for similar roles to those they have had success with in the past. “However, should you decide to move back into a permanent role at a later date, the flexibility of today’s market means your time in an interim position won’t necessarily be counted against you.”
“It’s important to not stop investing in your own professional development, even when this isn’t something being actively promoted by your employer,” advises Kylie. In a permanent role, candidates will have access to a structured training programme, she says, but in an interim position the individual needs to take on the responsibility of personal development. “Consider how the networks you develop and the experience you gain in an interim position can benefit your career, or whether you could use your financial gains to invest in a relevant course or training programme.”
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