The very nature of working within interim management means you’ll be used to fluctuations in work patterns. Much like buses, you can be lingering much longer than you would like to be for an assignment, before two may come along at once.
It can be unpredictable. And unlike the wider job market, which can be loosely linked to the wider economy, interim management can be considerably less predictable – even at sector level. In fact, often when the wider job market suffers, the demand for interim expertise around change and transformation increases.
It goes without saying that financial planning around peaks and troughs of your workflow is a key skill required in this world. It’s certainly not for the fainthearted. But what can you do when your next assignment that you’d hoped was around the corner, isn’t there. Here’s some tips:
Reconnect with your consultant
Assignments are, more often than not, not advertised publicly. So, make sure your consultant knows you’re available and actively looking. You want to be front of their mind when they’re talking to their clients and considering who to put forward for assignments. We will always look for the best interim for the role, but in a crowded marketplace when an interim role needs filling quickly, as they typically do, you’re much more likely to make it to a shortlist if you’ve maintained a strong relationship with your consultant. Your consultant can also provide you insights into the market and what clients are currently looking for, which leads us to…
Consider repositioning yourself
How long has it been since you updated your CV and LinkedIn profile? I don’t just mean adding your last assignment to it, but since you thoroughly reviewed it and how you market yourself. Every sector is evolving, and, with that, new and different challenges arise. Ensure the way you position yourself showcases all your most relevant experience and expertise for the current climate. For more tips on how to do this, read our blog on mistakes to avoid on your interim CV here.
Network, network, network
We talk about this all the time, and it may sound obvious, but I’m always surprised by the number of people who are looking for an assignment but when asked if they’ve been networking at events, admit they haven’t. Networking needs to be part of your strategy. There’s no denying that in-person events have taken a dip in a post pandemic world, but that leaves even more opportunity for you to make a lasting mark on someone. Whether it immediately pays off, or pays off in two, three, four assignments down the line, make it your mission to get out there, have conversations with new contacts and understand what’s going on in their world.
With this, it’s also worth remembering that using interims isn’t always the obvious solution in many organisations. So, in having these conversations you could be educating people on the value interims could have in their business.
Remember to re-engage with ex managers or people you have worked with and got along with. You’re not just reconnecting with them, but can tap into their network too.
Invest in your expertise
When you’re off assignment, this is the perfect time to invest in your expertise. Whether it’s going to events, listening to podcasts, taking a course or reading the latest literature, your time would be well spent here. You may find opportunities within these platforms themselves, but the main reason we encourage this is that it’s another opportunity to ensure you are marketing yourself well within the current market. The insights you pick up can also be great conversation starters that position you as someone with your finger on the pulse when speaking to contacts.
Consider outside sector opportunities
Sector experience can be important, and yes, in some roles crucial, but we’re seeing an increasing volume of cross-sector pollination within our interim community. This is a trend that is happening both in and outside the interim world, as many organisations are now actively looking to get in expertise from beyond their own sector – not necessarily because of a lack of talent in the current pool. For them, it can offer the opportunity to have a fresh pair of eyes to critique stale practices and learn from what other sectors do well. For example, we’ve seen this a lot within the social housing sector where they’re wanting to bring in skills from retail and hospitality that can put a consumer lens on their operations. But this is a great opportunity for interims too. Not only will it widen your job search, but it’s an opportunity to gain different experiences and add strings to your bow.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Take regular breaks from job searching to give yourself time to rest and do things that you enjoy. Exercise, meditate, have dinner with friends… Whatever self-care looks like to you, do it. It can be so easy to let assignment searching take over, but you need to ensure you’re still making time for yourself and unwind from the stress of it. Clear your mind which will enable you to refocus on the task ahead.