Every new job has surprising lessons to learn. With interim roles, these lessons are part of the appeal. 

When you’re thinking about becoming an interim professional, there’s a lot to consider—from your lifestyle and career goals to family commitments and work preferences. The best talent partner will provide a thorough onboarding process that helps you know what to expect, both as an interim professional in general and with each client. But, even after all of that careful preparation, there are still things that surprise those who have been doing interim work. Here are three common surprises and lessons that many interim professionals report.

1 Marketing yourself is an important part of the job 

Most people going into interim work understand they’ll have to spend some time marketing themselves. But they often underestimate the positive effect that time spent on marketing can have on their careers. After all, the more people that know about your skills and interests, the more interesting (and plentiful) your engagements will be. As an interim professional, there are several ways to promote yourself: 

  • Mastering the basics: Obvious marketing tactics—such as networking, going to industry events, and keeping your LinkedIn profile updated—are all important. The trick is to keep up with the basics, even when you’re busy working on a client assignment, so you’re always ready for the next project. 
  • Making an impression at talent firms: When you engage with a talent or staffing firm, make sure the business development team—which connects clients and interim professionals—knows who you are and what you do best. Set yourself apart by sending a personal email or LinkedIn message to salespeople to introduce yourself. The more the business development team knows, the easier it is for them to match you to engagements you’ll enjoy.  
  • Winning over the client: Whether you’re talking to a client yourself or working through the business development team, you need to sell your services to client stakeholders. When an engagement opportunity arises, be sure to highlight any past projects, skills and accolades that are specifically relevant to the client’s project. 

2 It’s fun to “do the work” (instead of managing the doers) 

Many interim professionals come from a corporate role where they were the manager or the leader of a team. In contrast, interim work often involves more direct use of a person’s skills to solve a problem or complete a project. Although there are interim roles that include managing a team for a short period of time, it’s not the same as building and nurturing a team over the years. 

While some interim professionals miss the management position and the impact it has, others are drawn to the opportunity to lead in a different way. They can enjoy doing work they love instead of overseeing others’ work, while still being able to serve as mentors—contributing to co-workers’ growth—without the stresses of managing personnel and department politics. 

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3 You get clearer on what’s important to you 

It’s no secret that there are trade-offs when you choose interim work over a corporate position—especially when you’re just starting out. However, after a year or two within these kinds of roles, many professionals have a good handle on the pros and cons of an interim career. 

More importantly, they have a stronger understanding of what truly matters to them. Some people decide they prefer a corporate role. Others determine that the freedom, flexibility, and engaging projects they have as an interim professional far outweigh any corporate perks. Either way, most report that taking interim projects and roles has enriched their professional profiles and provided valuable experience. 

Ready to learn more about interim professional work?

Join the Interim Network or review available jobs today.