In today’s new World of Work, many companies are navigating different ways of approaching how they structure their workforce. Key to this challenge is the contingent workforce, which has pivoted into the limelight during the pandemic as these workers take on a growing number of important jobs. For people who have been displaced from their jobs, it also has decided benefits, not only to fill the gap until they secure their next permanent position, but also in many cases, to put them on a new career path.
Many companies have discovered that they need to bring different strengths to their leadership teams as factors like remote working and economic/labor market changes shift their priorities. “Often, the right interim employees can help forge solutions to these unprecedented challenges,” say Tim Ozier, Sr. Director at MRI. “This presents opportunities for interim employees to bring fresh ideas to the table while helping existing teams to become more adaptable and innovative.”
Whether you’ve worked as an interim employee before or if you’re new to the idea, this is a great time to explore new environments. “You can showcase your problem-solving skills by assessing what needs to be done and coming up with a plan for accomplishing it,” observes Ozier. “Companies are looking for answers, and you can take this chance to leapfrog your career to a new level.”
Particularly, if you find that your industry niche has shrunk and that it may not become robust again for a long time, taking an interim position allows you to check out new companies and determine the best fit for you. “That’s a real advantage,” says Ozier. “You can determine if the leadership style and the culture of the company are compatible with your goals and comfort level without making a permanent commitment.”
Ozier points out that there are other tangible advantages in becoming an interim employee:
A boost in pay. Temporary assignments can give contractors exposure to an array of responsibilities and companies, often while earning more competitive salaries than they would in permanent positions. “Also, contractors typically get paid for every hour they work, unlike their salaried counterparts,” says Ozier. “They don’t find themselves working 60 hours a week and only getting paid for 40.”
Broadening skills. “If you bore easily or fear growing stagnant or getting pigeonholed, going from contract to contract offers the perfect solution,” says Ozier. “Most importantly, it helps you build your skill set. Exposure to a wider variety of projects, technology tools, and work environments accelerates how quickly you build those skills. Meeting a wider variety of people also allows you to build your professional network. Both lead to future opportunities.”
Finding security. In the interim world, you quickly learn how to stay relevant, nimble, and employable. “People who still believe that job security is synonymous with full-time employment may be missing out on one of the best-kept secrets of contracting: once you are established with a good staffing firm or you become adept at drumming up new work on your own, you stop worrying about layoffs,” says Ozier. “Instead, you cultivate industry contacts and keep a constant ear to the ground for fresh opportunities.”
Making a living as a contract professional isn’t suitable for everyone. It requires planning and self-motivation. But the independence and the ability to build skills at a fast rate can be financially and personally rewarding.