How should you approach your first interim contract?

Posted on Thursday, June 15, 2017 by Venn GroupNo comments

It’s surprisingly common how many people find themselves working in an interim contract at some point during their career – be it a choice to leave permanent employment  to become a professional contractor or as a stop-gap between permanent positions.

Whether you’re seeking your first contract now or you’ve “been there, done that”, at some stage everyone has faced the same question – how should you approach your first interim contract?

If you haven’t worked in an interim environment before you might assume you could walk into work on your first day with the same gusto and enthusiasm you might a permanent role but it is rarely that simple.

When organisations recruit interim staff, it can often be under difficult circumstances. You may join an organisation that is going through significant restructuring or even redundancies and it is therefore important that whoever enters that environment addresses their work in an appropriate manner. It is vital that you can adjust to the circumstances which you are entering and be respectful of those permanent staff around you. Without teaching you to suck eggs, this probably isn’t the occasion to attempt to change everything the organisation is currently doing, even if (you think) you know better.

The best way to put this into context is to draw similarities from the world of sport and the on going ICC Champions Trophy.

Some of the world’s best cricketers are in England and Wales for two weeks in an attempt to crown themselves as the best cricketing nations once again. It’s an opportunity for the likes of Virat Kohli, Joe Root, David Warner and company to show off their ability to the world.

But as most cricket fans will recognise, it’s not always that straightforward. Any batsman worth their salt must adapt to the conditions. Different pitch, game and weather conditions must be dealt with in a different way by the batsman in order to prosper. A batsman who goes out swinging from ball one will, in all likelihood, lose their wicket early on. Much in the same way a contractor, who attempts to re-invent the wheel in an interim role, may find themselves out of a job.

In time, there may be opportunities to have your voice heard. As you build confidence and trust with your employer they may begin to value your opinion more and any ideas you have are more likely to be listened to. In much the same way as a cricketer begins to attack more once they’ve got “their eye in” and have settled into the conditions they’re facing.

Admittedly, it’s neither rocket science nor an art form in approaching interim work. My advice is simply to apply some logic, take your time, don’t attempt to ruffle feathers (unless you’ve been explicitly employed to do so) and just get on with your job. Otherwise you might find yourself walking back to the (jobs) pavilion without having troubled the scorers.

Tom Ripley, Venn Group

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