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Making the move: top tips on transitioning from permanent work into interim assignments

At CIPFA-Penna, we're seeing more and more candidates shift into interim work. Making the move can be daunting. Working out day rates, setting up your business, winning work and marketing yourself can seem unfamiliar territory. Plus, you need the right recruiter at your side. Mizan Rouf gives his top tips on transitioning to interim.

As the way in which public services are delivered changes over the coming months and years and a greater emphasis is placed on workforce flexibility in local government, more and more employees will look for agile ways of working. One of the key considerations is whether to transition from permanent employment into interim work.

If you're looking to leave the stability of permanent employment, the jump into interim work can be complex, but with careful consideration and planning it can be a seamless transition.

The first question to consider is why you want to work in this way. What are your motives and goals? Really think about what being an interim will be like and know that it is what you want, and you will be more driven to succeed. To help you consider that question, it's worth looking at some of the benefits of interim work.

Many interims feed back to me that one of the best things of this type of role is having flexibility and control. You can choose which organisations you would like to work for without limiting yourself to staying in one place or role for a long period of time. You have the flexibility to work part time, full time or on short-term project-based roles. You benefit from choosing the types of roles you put yourself forward for, giving you more variety and making your work life more interesting.

After a number of assignments, you can carve out a niche for yourself in the marketplace and develop a specialism. You should be able to recognise how you can make an impact in a short period of time. Successful finance interims often talk about how they have improved systems and processes, enhancing the way things are done and how they have added value to an organisation from day one. I often hear how satisfying it is to affect real organisational change.

Interims are often hired when there is a problem or change required, so if the thought of going into an organisation, meeting new people and fixing faults appeals to you then you are likely to enjoy interim work. The projects you take on as an interim are likely to be very focused – objectives will be set at the beginning and in a short period of time you will be expected to deliver against these targets. For that reason, you would normally move sideways in the organisational hierarchy. In our experience it is not uncommon for veteran s151 officers to be parachuted into a role where they are supporting the existing s151 officer. If you're considering where to pitch yourself in the market, please don't hesitate to speak to us at CIPFA-Penna.

Other considerations when deciding to make the move are around lifestyle and personal circumstances. As an interim you would not normally receive holiday pay, sick pay, local government pension or other employment benefits. Additionally, there may be times when you are between roles so ensure that you are prepared for such financial and working gaps. These lulls are usually offset by an improved day rate, but careful financial planning is always important.

One last piece of advice: one of the big no-nos of interim work is leaving an assignment early. Unless a catastrophe beyond your control happens, I would advise that you always see out a contract, particularly your first one.

Finish your assignment on time, complete your objectives, make a good impression with colleagues and your line manager, and leave the organisation knowing that you have fulfilled your obligations. By ending assignments on good terms you will:

  • leave the door open for you to return there in the future
  • enhance your reputation in the interim market – reputation and credibility count for a lot.

At CIPFA-Penna we can offer advice on setting your day rate, limited company arrangements and the basics of getting started as an interim. We also have a range of new to interim workshops and events that you would be welcome to join. Many of our experienced interims are also very happy to give reflections on their experience.

If you are considering making the move from permanent employment to interim work and would like to know how CIPFA-Penna can help, please feel free to contact or T: 07395 855007.