For many interims, this may be the first major economic downturn they are facing. The nervousness of not knowing what is going to happen in the next few months will be worrying many interims, and especially those who have been ‘on the bench’ since February or longer. This is completely natural and understandable, and the allure of a permanent role may seem increasingly attractive. The safety of consistent pay and the prospect of not job searching every 6 months is something many may opt for. But even that doesn’t guarantee financial security.
To help, we thought we would pull together some basic advice that will help in your search for the next interim role. For many, you will already be doing these things, but we hope it will prove useful for those who are new to the interim market, or those who are used to one contract organically leading to the next.
Network, network, network!
As with any business, you need to have a number of routes to market and you should approach your job search in that mindset. Unfortunately, those who sit at home and wait for the phone to ring will find themselves hearing less about new opportunities.
The word networking can strike fear into even the most confident. For many it conjures up pictures of large rooms with name badges and canapés you can’t eat whilst still maintaining a conversation and holding a drink. Fear not, it will be a while before those types of events start up again. Instead…
1. Build your network of recruitment agencies
Recruiters are a great source of market knowledge and will play a large role in your job search. The recruitment landscape is vast, and you will find recruiters of varying calibre, professionalism and sector focus. So, building a network of recruiters you can trust is vital, but that doesn’t mean you forget the rest.
The Institute of Interim Management carry out an annual survey of interims and they rank service providers by firm, and by consultant. This is a great indication of which recruiters and recruitment firms are supporting interims and providing a good experience. So, it is a useful place to start looking, and yes, flattery will help you get inside their network! Visit www.iim.org.uk to find out more.
Ideally you want five or so recruiters who are very specialist to you and your market and who will advocate for you with clients. They will typically work directly with clients and not just sit on large PSLs or frameworks, and so you know your CV will be brought to life by the recruiter when engaging with a client.
Beyond this, you will have relationships with more volume-based recruiters who might provide a more transactional service, but will see large numbers of roles and it doesn’t hurt to have your CV ‘thrown in’. However, we would recommend prioritising your effort and energy in tailoring your CV to the roles where there is less competition and you have a recruiter who knows you and the client.
2. Use your existing network
Normally, this would be over coffee or an alcoholic drink. This will come back in time, but now it could be a video call or just a message through Linkedin. Over the course of your career, you will have worked with people that have since left organisations, climbed the corporate ladder and so will be a potential new client. Whilst we don’t advocate bombarding friends and ex-work colleagues with emails demanding work, we do think it is sensible to make contact with these people and trade industry gossip, updating them on your current work situation and what you’ve been doing recently and how that has benefitted the organisation. The end result; you want your network to remember that you are open to hearing about roles, and to introduce you to people in their network who might need your help. A large percentage of interim roles are still filled by people that are already known to an organisation.
3. Be visible
LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms are a shop window into your business and what you offer to a client. The more visible you are, and the more information your LinkedIn profile contains about previous roles and outcomes, the more powerful your presence is.
With LinkedIn, you do not have to be on it constantly and posting thought leadership. It definitely helps, but the main priority is ensuring you have the right ‘buzz words’ and are connected to the right people to help you come higher up the search list. Words like ‘interim’ and ‘consultant’ are important. And so is being connected to recruiters. Each recruitment company will have a candidate page where they advertise roles, but beyond this it will also bring you closer in connection to the rest of that network and increase your visibility in searches.
Expand your horizons but be very clear about your value proposition
When the market starts to tighten and it feels like you are being approached about fewer roles, it can seem sensible to widen your offer and pitch for things that you wouldn’t normally entertain. This won’t always lead to happiness and more work. A clear, and well-honed proposition is very important in competitive environments. Knowing exactly what you can offer a client and how your experience can translate to solve their problems is vital in securing work. If you aren’t sure, then speak to one of your favourite recruiters and they should give you a helpful steer on whether your experience is suited to a role. Even better, practice your pitch and work on it with the recruiter. The better we know your offer, the easier it is for us to communicate that to a client and the more connections we can on your behalf.
If you want to expand your horizons, then looking further from home or at different rates may increase your success. Consider working inside of the dreaded IR35 and absorbing some of the tax burden. These are all things that will increase the number of roles that might fit your experience and value proposition.
Enjoy the downtime, but keep focussed on your search
Whilst it can be stressful and worrying to not know where the next contract is coming from, it is also important you enjoy the downtime. Accepting that you can only control certain things and knowing how to relax outside of this is important. Building structure and focus into your daily job search can ensure you have purpose and can measure outcomes. But you can then plan downtime into the day and feel relaxed in the knowledge that you’ve been productive. So, enjoy the sunshine, do the list of household jobs you’ve been putting off. It won’t be long before you are back in a contract and wishing you had more time.
None of this is overly scientific, but we hope it helps in a small way. It only takes one phone call for everything to pick up pace and we wish you the best of luck in your job search. If you want to discuss any of these themes, or to discuss your value proposition then please don’t hesitate to get in touch and schedule a call with the team: calendly.com/anthony-lewis-tilehill/video-call.