HR career Q&A: Moving back to HR from interim management

Q I’ve read that interim HR practitioners are in great demand at the moment, and like the idea of trying contract work. But will it be difficult for me to get back into “conventional” HR later?

The HR expert’s view

A move into interim management can often offer great challenges, rewards and a flexible way of working, without some of the more traditional constraints of permanent employment.

Interim work can have lots of positive elements to it, such as being your own boss, incorporating work into your lifestyle plans, concentrating on what you do best, and being able to see projects through to successful outcomes. It may also give you potentially higher daily earnings.

But you do need to consider and plan for the times when you are between assignments and earning no money. Remember, too, that you will no longer receive the usual benefits such as holiday, sick pay and pension. Working in an interim role may also play havoc with your personal life if you end up living out of a suitcase away from home more often that not.

On the plus side, interim roles often lead into permanent appointments and it can be a great way to explore and find a perfect culture-fit organisation for you. If I were you, I would not be too worried about getting back into “conventional” HR at a later stage. I believe there is a professional body specifically set up for interim management advice and it may be worth contacting it first.

Esther O’Halloran, HR director, Paul UK


The recruitment expert’s opinion

The short answer is “no”. Whereas in the past it was often perceived that HR professionals would consider contracting or interim work only if they were “between jobs”, that is certainly no longer the case.

Today it’s widely accepted that interim work offers a multitude of career choices and benefits, from straightforward flexibility, diversity and accountability to providing an ideal opportunity to “test drive” a new sector without risking long-term damage to your CV. The right interim appointment might also offer you the opportunity to develop or hone specific skill sets.

Another benefit often quoted by experienced interims is the opportunity simply to “do the job and not the politics” – to escape from the bureaucracy and politics that often seem to go hand-in-hand with modern corporate life. You come in to do a job and that’s that. While not suiting everyone, the benefits of this type of work are manifold – a significant number of professionals try it, enjoy it and decide to stay in the interim world.

But if you spend some time as an interim, complete a project or two and return to the world of permanent employment, you should find that your stock can only rise as a result of your experience.

John Maxted, chief executive, Digby Morgan

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