My next move

Q I have six years’ HR experience in two different organisations in the same industry, and now I would like to go for an interim role. I thrive on a constant challenge and want to broaden my experience, with a view to eventually moving into consultancy. I’ve tentatively spoken to a couple of agencies who said that since I currently hold a permanent role (on four weeks’ notice) that they would be unable to consider me for interim roles. Is this really necessary?

A The reason a company seeks an interim varies tremendously. However, nine times out of 10, once the decision has been made to engage an HR professional in this capacity, timescales become an issue. The main reasons an interim is required are:

  • To manage uncertainty – when companies don’t have the expertise or resources in-house.

  • To boost business growth – to provide a much needed injection of strategic HR expertise to achieve results quickly.

  • To access high-calibre professionals – if it is difficult to attract the level and quality of HR professional needed for successful growth.

  • To provide a low-cost risk – getting the right person is time consuming and costly, but getting it wrong is even more expensive and damaging.

  • To develop management skills in the existing team – the senior management team may need expert coaching or development.

  • To assist in times of intense pressure – an experienced pair of hands is urgently needed.

  • To act as a stopgap solution – to cover a job vacancy, maternity or long-term absence.

The reason you have been told that your notice period would exclude you from consideration is that most interim roles are filled in a shorter timescale – typically, in less than four weeks.

In light of this, most organisations would find it difficult to wait for four weeks for an interim to start once the assignment has been offered.

However, there will be some organisations able to accommodate you. As long as you are honest about your availability from the outset, they will be able to make a judgement based on their requirements.

Your other option would be to hand your notice in before you have secured an assignment, but this means preparing yourself financially and psychologically for a possible period out of work before you find your first assignment.

From the description given of your previous experience, however, you sound like an ideal candidate to start an interim career.

By Gail Bell, managing director, Interim Performers

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