Q I am a female HR manager in my mid-30s and I’m thinking of becoming an interim. I’ve noticed that interim management is becoming increasingly popular among younger professionals. I thought that interim managers had to be older, more experienced professionals?
A In the past, interims have been highly-experienced senior staff in their mid-50s or older. They were often post-redundancy or early retirement and at the closing stage of their career. But now an increasing number of younger people are switching to interim roles.
However, once age discrimination legislation comes into force next year, it will be illegal to choose someone for a job – interim or otherwise – purely based on age.
Since 2001, there has been a large rise in the number of younger interims coming into the market, as well as an increase in the number of women. HR professionals believe it is more challenging and rewarding to move into different functions, sectors and organisations as it provides them with better career prospects. Some want to boost their careers by expanding their horizons, and others hope to escape the nine-to-five.
People are now seeking a better work-life balance, and interim management fits the bill.
Interim work can help you build a portfolio career and throw yourself into a vast array of short-term projects. Interims can earn a relatively high income, but still combine family commitments with working life. But how do you work out whether interim is for you?
There are key aspects to the shift from being permanently employed to becoming an interim – the most important being a change in attitude. If you can answer ‘yes’ to the following questions, you are well on the way to becoming an interim:
- Can you work independently?
- Can you cope with financial uncertainty (never quite knowing when you are going to get your next assignment or when you are going to get your next income)?
- Are you able to sell your services confidently on a regular basis?
- Can you deal with bouts of work inactivity interspersed with concentrated periods of high work activity?
- Are you able to be absolutely flexible about where, how or when you work?
- Interim management providers are not going to provide you with all the work you need. You have to be able to sell yourself, and say why an employer should take you and not someone else who is doing the same job.
Answer by: Gail Ball, managing director, Interim Performers