Emma Johnston recently joined Totum in a bid to actively establish our interim practise. Emma spoke with Head of Marketing, Sarah Broad as she detailed the benefit of interim solutions surrounding short-term or project based needs.

Why temporary, contract and interim? The benefits of going short term

Temporary, contract and interim roles are an exciting growth segment of the recruitment market, offering huge opportunities to professional services firms and candidates alike. In the first of a three-part series, our Consultant Emma Johnston explains the attraction.

I was recently delighted to join the Totum team, bringing my years of recruitment experience within professional and financial services firms to head up Totum’s specialist division, dedicated to interim, temporary and contract placements across the professional services sector.

I have focused on these kinds of roles for a number of years, and have always enjoyed the fast pace and huge variety shorter-term placements can offer. No day is the same when you’re working on roles that can range from a few days to a year or more at a time, encompassing every kind of remit and all levels of responsibility from Assistant right up to leadership positions at Director and Chief level.

But right now, this is a particularly exciting area of recruitment in which new opportunities continue to accelerate, driven by a wide number of environmental and societal factors. In a fast-changing world in which there is so much more choice about the ways in which people work, interim, temporary and contract roles can offer unique benefits to both recruiting firms and candidates alike.

In this blog, I want to explain the many facets of this market and explain why more firms and job seekers are using interim, temporary and contract placements to meet a broad spectrum of needs that are not always easily met by the traditional permanent world of employment.

Why recruit for the short term?

The most obvious reason for professional services firms to make interim, temporary or contract placements is to fill a gap in resource requirements (to cover maternity leave or a secondment, for example), or to cover additional resource requirements (due to increased workload or seasonal changes) when a function cannot as yet take on additional headcount. Unexpected absences and/or long-term sick leave can equally drive the need for short-term cover. Having the ability to quickly up and downscale requirements is an essential part of any agile resourcing strategy.

But the advantages of shorter term placements go deeper too. At a time in the business landscape when nothing has stood still for long, firms have had to adopt an increasingly flexible mindset to adapt quickly to market shocks and fluctuations. During the same period, business services functions have evolved rapidly to meet the needs of large and complex businesses managing profound operational and strategic change. New skills and capabilities are needed all the time; at Totum we have sourced many candidates for brand new roles or helped firms build new teams from scratch.

In this kind of climate, interim, temporary and contract roles can offer huge business opportunity, allowing firms to source additional skills quickly as required, bring in fresh perspectives, tackle important technical or change management projects that extend beyond the remit or capacity of existing teams, and assign resource to exactly where it is needed to meet fast-shifting requirements.

Temporary, contract and interim placements can also offer clients the flexibility to find the right fit: firms may take on a candidate in a short-term placement with the view that the role could become permanent. This can suit both firms and candidates very well – enabling a ‘try before you buy’ approach that allows both sides to see how things pan out before making a longer-term commitment. As the recruitment process for short-term placements tends to be much quicker, this approach allows people to get on with the job sooner rather than later, providing advantages to all parties.

This often allows firms to think more creatively in terms of potential candidates; it can be easier to make the case for hiring candidates from other sectors or backgrounds when it’s a shorter term placement. Those new recruits then provide a fresh influx of ideas and experiences, with many of them becoming permanent once they’re established in the firm/sector.

What about candidates?

There has never been a better pool of talent in the interim, temporary and contract market either. That’s because more individuals are now choosing shorter-term placements to meet a wider variety of career requirements.

  1. We work with candidates who want to build new skills rapidly to achieve career goals –a shorter-term placement can be a clever route to acquiring new skills with a variety of firms before finding a permanent role at a suitable level of seniority. It can also be a good way to get a foot in the door at a particular organisation or provide a good route back into the job market after a period of being out of the workforce.
  2. In a similar vein, shorter-term roles can offer candidates a vital step up to leadership, offering them the ability to acquire broad and practical management experience in different teams and firms, and get exposure to new business problems and ways to solve them. This can then underpin successful applications on the next rung of the leadership ladder.
  3. Shorter-term placements often appeal to more project-oriented candidates who like to get stuck into meaty assignments with a clear beginning, middle and end, without having to get caught up with other myriad duties or, indeed, office politics.
  4. Interim, contract and temporary roles can be a useful stop-gap between permanent roles offering a chance for individuals to reflect on, and review, their next steps (or try out a few different types of firm), helping to ensure that their next permanent role is exactly the right one and ensuring continuity on their CV in the meantime.

Changing mindset

Perhaps one of the most important drivers right now, however, is a shift in lifestyle expectations. It started before Covid but the pandemic accelerated trends we were already seeing. Increasing numbers of hugely talented individuals no longer want to tie their careers to one firm or one career path. More people want to enjoy good roles with interesting firms while also pursuing their own ambitions, such as building their own business, charitable endeavours, or sporting pursuits. The interim, temporary and contract market can make a perfect fit for alternative life choices.

Others simply prefer working with a variety of firms, enjoy regularly experiencing new workplaces, people and cultures, and relish the idea of the spontaneity that can come from embracing new placements that can shape careers in surprising ways. Some also like the flexibility to work incredibly hard for a period of time in return for taking regular sabbaticals to travel the world or do something completely different. All such possibilities fit well into an interim world.

So if you think any of the above might sound like you, give me a call. I would be happy to discuss general trends or any type of placement that might be of interest to you.

If you’re a recruiting firm interested in sourcing more of this exciting and growing pool of talent, let me know. I’m always pleased to chat through market trends, discuss specific recruitment needs or indeed help scope out project requirements if a variety of shorter-term placements are needed over a period of time.

In the meantime, visit our website for more details on temporary, contract and interim roles – here you will find more detailed descriptions of the different types roles on offer (although it’s always worth remembering this is a market with many grey areas – shaped daily by those who work and recruit in it!). Also take a look at our current job opportunities if you’d like to know more about the kind of roles we cover here at Totum.

If you’d like to get in touch to further discuss any of the above, drop me a line at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you.

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