Three attributes of successful interims
Most successful interims have made a conscious career choice to pursue interim opportunities instead of permanent roles. There are many drivers behind this, but the most common reasons are related to lifestyle, to get a more diverse set of experiences or to avoid organisational politics. The best interims tend to be more action-oriented, have the ability to make ‘gut’ decisions and don’t have a particular need for organisational affiliation; remember even if you love the business you are working for, you will likely be leaving someone else to implement your actions. Many individuals I have spoken to who have tried interim for the first time talk of a sense of loss when they have to leave a business they’ve really loved. These elements need serious consideration if you are weighing up whether a career as an interim could be for you.
Secondly, interim executives get hired for what they can bring rather than for what they might learn – the ‘inch-wide, mile-deep’ experience. So, if you want to position yourself as interim then take the time to understand what your key skills might be. In a market where supply outstrips demand, one might think that broadening what you ‘could’ do will enhance your chances of success, but often it is the reverse. One of my experienced interims summed it up succinctly; “Does saying I can do everything mean I’m not perfect for anything?”
Thirdly, if you really want a permanent job and interim is a back-up plan only then I would advise focusing on the permanent market, or at least temp-to-perm options. Using precious time trying to make yourself ‘fit’ the interim market can damage your personal brand and could end up harming rather than helping.
And finally, if you are lucky enough to land an interim assignment, you must see it through to conclusion. At least twice a year I place someone who has told me that they are keen to explore interim opportunities into roles and they leave before the end of the assignment to take a permanent job elsewhere. Your word is your bond so if interim is ‘second choice’ do think carefully about whether you are happy to be out of the permanent market for a period of time.
In an ever-changing world, interim managers will have many more opportunities to help create the organisations of the future. AESC Research suggests that over 90% of organisations expect greater demand for interims post-COVID.
For the right individuals, moving into the interim market can be a rewarding, positive and permanent decision.