Skip to content
Hays - Recruiting experts worldwide
  1. I am
    I am
Browse by expertise

Guide to becoming

an interim manager

Aileen Brown, Director at Hays Human Resources, looks at the benefits of becoming an interim HR professional and offers top tips on making the move.

HR professionals still in high demand

The demand for HR professionals has remained strong throughout the recession. At a time when organisations need to do more with less, HR has come to the forefront with many CEOs turning to their HR experts to ensure they have the right people policies in place and are set up to get the most from their employees.

While employers are requesting various HR specialists, both on an interim and permanent basis, there has been a noticeable increase in demand for interim support to manage short-term and longer-term projects.

Employers looking to interim solutions


The aftermath of the recession has resulted in unique challenges for organisations, many of which require specialist HR skills and expertise. For example, now that confidence is slowly beginning to return, particularly in the private sector, organisations are keen to implement retention strategies that re-engage with employees that may be tempted to look for new job opportunities.

Equally many organisations will be looking to restructure to cut waste, make reductions or strengthen the business proposition for the future. In these instances many organisations are happy to use career interims, safe in the knowledge that they have experience of similar projects already. Also, where headcount freezes still remain, interims can provide employers with skills respite where full time recruitment posts aren’t an option.

The benefits of an interim career

Interim roles can be challenging and offer professionals real insight into different organisations and areas within businesses as they tend to be more project focused. In addition to enjoying the challenging, target driven type role it also suits many professionals because they have a limited involvement in the politics of the organisation.

But before embarking on a career as an interim, it's important for professionals to consider whether the current jobs market suits their skills and experience. This is where an expert recruiter can help as they will know what opportunities are out there and the skills and experience that employers are really looking for - a good recruiter will look to help individuals identify transferable skills and support professionals in showcasing why they are a suitable match for such a position.

The need to be flexible

Becoming an interim does not suit everyone as some professionals deem the working environment to be too unstable. Concerns of where the next role and pay cheque is coming from can outweigh the benefits that go hand in hand with an interim career.

Professionals are often parachuted in to the middle of a project and don’t always have the opportunity to see it through to the end. Interims must be prepared to hand over the work when it is time to leave.

Fast paced nature of interim

The fast-paced, diverse, nature of being an interim is what makes the career so exciting though. Interims change roles frequently and therefore gain a broader range of exposure to a wide variety of different projects and organisations.

An interim career affords flexibility of hours and location, allowing individuals to have greater control of their work-life balance. As long as the projects are challenging and individuals have a stable work history, interim assignments can add value to an individual’s experience and CV, enhancing their career prospects. Working as an interim is a career in its own right, and the wealth of experience gained makes professionals very marketable.

Network to launch your interim career

For those tempted to take the plunge, investing time in networking is crucial in creating a reputation for yourself. Attending networking events, using social networking sites such as LinkedIn, and joining a professional body such as the CIPD are useful tools in getting your name known.

Employers will be looking for interims to demonstrate return on investment so securing an interim role will depend on professionals demonstrating an exceptional track record of HR transformation work and ability to benchmark HR best practices.

Demonstrate value quickly

Once securing a role, it's important to establish the specific project requirements with the employer from the outset - this will make it easier to demonstrate return on investment. Projects are likely to involve developing relationships with key people very quickly and therefore it's important to get straight to the point on day one.

Plan your exit

When exiting a company, make sure that all knowledge is effectively handed over, so that the business can continue in your absence. Your real value lies in the changes made and processes embedded for the business to continue in the short, medium and long term. And bearing in mind that the interim industry is firmly based on reputation and proven track record, don’t forget to highlight your successes by capturing solid testimonials and recommendations.

For more information on our current interim opportunities, contact your local office or search our latest interim HR jobs.

This article first appeared on changeboard.com