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Winning ways

Comments are closed. Winning waysOn 1 Mar 2001 in Personnel Today Newcomers to interim management canfind it hard to adjust to the business of winning assignments, but learning howto work well with a good agency will prove invaluable from the very beginning,By Rob McLuhanInterim work can be highlyrewarding but it does involve more or less perpetual job-seeking. While thoseseeking permanent employment will thankfully put the rigmarole of CVs andinterviews behind them when they join a new company, the interim manager musttreat the business of winning assignments as a skill in itself.Much of theaggravation is taken out of this by a good agency, which will identify suitableprojects and make the first contacts. So an ability to maintain a goodrelationship with the agency is itself essential. Interim managers must notonly impress potential clients; they need to ensure that someone is activelykeeping an eye open for future opportunities.For managers who haveestablished a career in interim work all this soon becomes second nature butfor beginners the routine can seem unfamiliar. That is especially the case fortop executives who may be embarking on a new career as an interim after havingretired from a long-term post.”Quite often itis the more senior managers who need the most guidance,” comments SheilaChalker, partner at Interim Management Services. “They have had staff todo their office work so when it comes to organising their own CV andadministration it can seem quite foreign.”Writea good CVMany of the rules foran interim manager’s CV are the same as for a permanent position, and allagencies emphasise the need for clarity, conciseness and relevance. Treat it asa marketing tool for your professional expertise and achievements, they say,and be prepared to tailor it to specific assignments.Experts have alwaysbeen divided about how long a CV should be, with some urging brevity as a meansof creating impact while others prefer to err on the side of too much detail.David Bradford, managing director of Impact Executives, says, “You don’thave to restrict it to two pages, although more than four is probably too much.But stick to the key facts, rather than going on about how wonderful you are,or including irrelevant information such as hobbies or the ages of yourchildren.”The agency can be auseful source of advice but may not want to tamper too much. “If there areobvious problems we would discuss it with the manager and ask them tore-submit. But your CV normally says something about yourself so we would avoidaltering as far as possible,” Bradford says.When it comes tocontent and presentation there are a few key points to bear in mind: Includeinformation about all the key managerial roles you have held. These should bespecific about job titles, the size of organisation and budgetaryresponsibilities. Posts held as long ago as 10 years are still worth mentioningif they show evidence of relevant skills and experience.Use an electronicformat. Searches are increasingly done automatically, which means the CV willneed to be presented as a readily accessible file document. Be aware too thatpotential clients will be using key words to perform searches – phrases such as”demerger” and “organisational development” will alertclients to the qualities that meet their needs.Don’t include yoursalary requirements. The rate will most likely be subject to negotiation, withthe agency including its cut. Interim work is normally charged by the day anddoes not usually correlate to annual salaries, especially when travel andaccommodation expenses and the lack of benefits are taken into account.Leave out your nameand address. Most agencies will not want to include this when they contact theclient and their deleting it could make the front of the CV look odd.Include languageskills. Malcolm Browne, head of Penna Interim, recalls having difficultyfinding French speakers for temporary HR posts in Paris. He eventually foundtwo individuals who spoke excellent French but had forgotten to mention this ontheir CV.Winningthe assignmentThe objective is notto be a candidate but to be a winner – at the very least you want to ensure youare shortlisted for an interview. You can improve your chances by drawing theclient’s attention to key achievements and highlighting the benefits you havebought to an organisation.Nor is it necessary tohave experience of the company’s specific activity. “A client looks fortwo things,” says Penna Interim’s Browne. “Professional expertise isan absolute, so for a financial post they will be looking for someone withexperience as a finance director. However when it comes to experience in theirsector they may be more flexible.”Surprisingly, HRprofessionals are not always good at marketing their skills, even though theyspend much of their time handling other people’s CVs, according to Paul Clarke,consultancy services director at Academy (HR) Services Group. “They needto show they have a firm understanding of HR practices as well as how theirpolicies impact on the performance of the business,” he says.Many clients askcandidates to give a presentation, so check with the agency on the requiredformat. There is nothing worse than the candidate turning up with floppy diskfor a laptop when there is only an overhead projector, but it doeshappen,” Penna Interim’s Browne says. “And don’t leave it until thelast minute. We have had calls from candidates on the evening before sayingtheir printer doesn’t work and asking what they should do.”A willingness tonegotiate is a major asset when it comes to salary, hours and travel. That isnot always easy, particularly on the matter of location. Many assignments areoffered a long way from home, which means taking temporary accommodation orbeing resigned to a long daily journey. But the fewer obstacles the candidateraises the more likely they are to win the assignment.Even though theassignment may involve considerable expense in terms of accommodation andtravel it is wise not to insist that the client foots the bill. This can makethem think twice and is in any case often unnecessary, as the extra amountneeded can often be quietly factored in when you are negotiating the fee.When it comes to theweekly schedule there is increasing room for manoeuvre. “Companies arebecoming very flexible, and interims need to be as well,” commentsCaroline Battson, interim team leader for Macmillan Davies Hodes. “For newmothers going back to work, clients often allow a schedule of four days a weekor a 10am-4pm working day. But then interims need to be willing to reciprocate,perhaps working at weekends occasionally to fit in with the client’s businessneeds.”Workingwith your chosen agencyGetting on well withthe agency is the best way to ensure a regular flow of congenial, well-paidassignments, so it is important to be sensitive to its needs.”Building up arelationship based on honesty and trust is beneficial for everybody,” saysBattson. “The agency knows the person can carry out a particular rolebecause they have done it before, while the interim can go to jobs knowing theyare relevant to their previous experience.”The consultant youdeal with at the agency will write up an initial report based on an interviewand references. This forms the basis of what it passes on to clients. So it isimportant to treat them exactly as you would an employer, taking care how youpresent yourself. “Make it clear that you are looking for a proper careerand not just treating interim work as a stop gap. That means they can expect toget repeat business,” says Impact Executives’ Bradford.Good communications isa must – agencies like to keep in close touch with the managers on their booksand be able to contact them easily. That is especially important between jobs,as they may need to establish your availability for an assignment very quickly.A home phone number is not enough – have e-mail and a mobile phone as well andcheck them regularly for messages.Be sure to let theagency know when you expect to complete an assignment so it can start lookingfor the next. “It’s nice to be rung mid-term to let us know how things aregoing,” says Penna Interim’s Browne. He adds that he likesto network with candidates, so be prepared to suggest the names of people whomight be able to fill other posts – you can expect them to return the favour.Undertakingand completing the assignmentAssuming the agencyhas successfully matched your qualifications to the job, there should be nolearning curve to negotiate. In fact, senior professionals are overqualifiedfor many of the assignments they take on, and enjoy dazzling the company bycompleting it ahead of schedule and above expectations.A key to success is tomaintain excellent communications. In the initial phase the assignment briefshould be reviewed and clarifications and modifications sought if necessary. Insome cases the assignment may have arisen through some instability in thecompany, in which case tact may be necessary to ensure everything proceedssmoothly.Regular contacts withcolleagues on the client side can be helpful, especially if they are not on thesite where the assignment is being carried out. That is often the case atsenior level, where the managing director and group managing director may be indifferent locations.Keep the agencyinformed about progress. “You will get hiccups from time to time, and itis important to bring a consultant into the picture so we can help whennecessary,” says Impact Executives” Bradford. “The brief mayturn out not quite as expected and we can help in that.”And don’t get involvedin company politics. “That’s the great benefit of being on a temporaryassignment, as the regular staff should not see the interim as a threat totheir positions,” says Bradford. “You can just get on with the joband let the local politicians sort themselves out.” Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. read more

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