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A career as an interim marketing professional, is it for you?

Author: Paddy Wells
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I’ve been recruiting contract and interim marketing professionals for over 7 years now and I think it’s a brilliant career path for many people. However, it’s not for everyone. On one side it offers a huge variety in your day to day and the projects you pick up can have a high earning potential. On the flip side, you can be under more pressure to deliver quality work in a short period of time.

So, how do you know if a career as an interim is for you?

A typical interim

A career as an interim can be very exciting as it gives you the chance to make significant impact, quickly and in a variety of organisations in a range of sectors. As an interim you need to be a specialist in your field, so that you can pick things up quickly and hit the ground running. Pace is key in a large number of interim projects, as clients will expect you to make an impact quicker than a comparable permanent hire.

The pressure can build up, especially in higher level roles, so you will need to be thick skinned and know your stuff. Often an interim will be required to save or drive business critical processes and as such, the pressure is on to deliver. Some interims thrive in this type of environment but if you don’t handle pressure well, it may not be the career choice for you.

What you need to succeed in a marketing career as an interim

Availability

More often than not, interims will be needed urgently, so you will need to be able to move quickly! If you’re considering moving from a permanent role to an interim career but have a 3 to 6-month notice period, you will struggle. Most clients feel that they needed someone to start work yesterday, so will be looking for you to pick up quickly, hit the ground running and deliver quality work. If you have a long notice period, there is a good chance the work will have already been completed by the time you can start. As a specialist interim recruiter “immediately available” are my two favourite words.

A network

One thing no interim can survive without is a network, and building one is one of the hardest things about starting this career path. If you decide to start an interim career, it’s always helpful to have plenty of contacts in your industry/professional network. The more you have, the more work you will get. Be proactive; approaching existing and new clients, push your brand out on social media and ALWAYS ask for referrals. One thing our interim and contract division at Forward Role can do is help to build this network up. We have over 10 years’ experience in this space and one of the biggest networks of clients in this market.

Know your worth

Knowing your worth is key! And when I say worth, I mean the value you put your services at, and the cost you will charge for that value. I have spoken to career interims who say that they will be happy to consider daily rates of around £500 per day. In reality £500 per day is equivalent to more than £110,000 per year! It’s important to get this right as an unrealistic fee could cost you both work and a possible client in the future.

At Forward Role we use a magic number to calculate a daily rate from a salary - 232. If you don’t work weekends or bank holidays, and take 20 days off, you will work 232 days a year. An interim role is riskier than a permanent one so rates will generally be higher, but this will help you work out your minimum cost. £50,000 per year / 232 = £215 per day.

Versatility

Being adaptable and able to transfer your skillset to a range of sectors and clients, will increase your value and dramatically increase your chances of picking up contracts. Getting to know new businesses and new sectors will keep things fresh for you, keep you engaged and on your toes, as well as opening up new markets. A good tip if you are trying new markets is to try looking for similar contracts you have completed before, but in new sectors. This should negate any issues the client may have with a lack of sector knowledge.

Results driven

All clients want the best person for their role, but in interim and contract positions this is even more crucial. For most of my client’s their top priority is to find talent with the self-confidence to take on huge projects by hitting the ground running. As a professional interim this means you often have the opportunity to contribute towards business critical decisions, without getting caught up in the internal politics. Hirers for temporary contracts are looking for results driven individuals, rather than finding someone who’s going to be a great team player or fit in with the company culture.

Strong organisation

As an interim you may find that your week involves working for 3 different clients, on 5 different projects, so it is vital to stay on top of your work and be organised. As an interim you may have a very small window to complete a large piece of work, and so the last thing you need is to have a project handed back to you because you’ve not understood the brief correctly. Make sure you communicate effectively with each of your clients at the start of a new project, so that you don’t waste time down the line.

Often an interim is hired to pick up a role whilst someone is off on maternity or sick leave. It is also key to ensure that the role is handed back in the same, if not even better, state than it was left in - being organised is critical to achieving this.

A career as a professional interim can be incredibly rewarding if you do it right. If you are considering starting a career as an interim or if you are already doing it, Forward Role can help. We are industry experts with over 10 years’ experience and have some of the best interim recruiters on the market. If you would like help with any interim needs, we are always happy to help. So get in touch!

Paddy Wells is Interim and Contract Business Manager at Forward Role, specialising in marketing roles. He can be found tweeting at @forwardrole_pw and on LinkedIn. To get in touch call 07467 943 029 or email paddy@forwardrole.com.

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