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Life as an Interim: Key Takeaways From Our 2018 Bridging the Gap Report

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Life as an Interim: Key Takeaways From Our 2018 Bridging the Gap Report

In 2018, we published our Bridging the Gap report, which focuses on the communications, digital and marketing interim market. With over 250 responses, the report covered the profile of an interim, IR35, the interim recruitment landscape, as well as case studies on digital marketing and change communications. We’ve already seen several shifts in the market since the report was published, so here are some key takeaways of our 2018 report:

Interims are highly experienced

Interims need to be able to hit the ground running so it’s no surprise that experienced communications and marketing professionals make up the bulk of the interim market. In the report, we found that over 60% of respondents had more than 15 years’ experience. Interims who are brought into an organisation should be able to identify and solve problems within a limited time, whether that’s tackling a change comms programme or revitalising a digital strategy, so having the experience to do so proves vital. However, at VMA GROUP, we’ve seen a shift into more junior communications, digital and marketing interim roles becoming available on the market. This could be due to the changing nature of communications and marketing departments within organisations, but also due to the demands and needs as a result of external forces.

Interims are not put off by IR35

According to a survey by Brookson Legal, more than half of UK firms are considering a blanket approach to IR35, with organisations such as Lloyds Bank, Barclays and GSK already making the decision to not hire limited company contractors. With 67% of respondents in our Bridging the Gap survey stating that they work through a limited company, these kind of decisions could have a drastic impact on project based work within organisations, due to the potential loss of talent. Andy Chamberlain, Deputy Director of Policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), has stated that a reduction in the number of contractors organisations take on could lead to a drop in overall productivity. Unsurprisingly, we found that 76% of respondents disagree with the government proposal to roll out IR35 to the private sector. However, despite the uncertainty and chaos, we found that 56% of respondents would carry on contracting.

Over half of interim assignments are focused on specific jobs, with almost a third of interim assignments focused on change communications

When surveying what’s driving the demand for interim assignments, we found that 55% of respondents were in interim roles created for a specific project. This is prevalent on our internal communications interim desk, where we found a third of interim roles are being driven by change and transformation projects within organisations. With fundamental external forces such as Brexit in play; seeing core British businesses such as Thomas Cook collapse; and the likes of long-lasting retailers such as M&S and John Lewis wavering; the pressure for organisations to keep up with the ever-changing market means making difficult business decisions. As a result, organisations must ensure that their communications teams must be able to effectively communicate these decisions and without the resource to do so, we see more interim roles consequently being created.

Challenges as an interim

We asked what the challenges as an interim over the next 12 months would be and found that one key challenge would be limited resources available. This is a theme we see reoccurring across the communications market, where a cut in spending has impacted the way communications professionals work. Our 2018 Inside Insight report, which focuses on the internal communications market, found that organisations were cutting or keeping departmental budgets the same, despite the demand for internal communications increasing. Such sentiments were also found in our 2018 external communications report, The View, where 48% of communications professionals did not expect their budget to increase. With this in mind, some respondents felt that being able to reach the expectations of the employer with limited resources and time to be one of the biggest challenges as an interim.

Majority of interim roles found are through networks 

If you’re an interim, you know the speed in which interim roles are created and filled, so it’s no surprise that 32% of respondents said that they found their last interim role through their network. The second most popular way to find an interim role was through a recruitment agency, where 29% of respondents found their last interim role. With many organisations not having the right network or knowledge of the communications and marketing market, they will reach out to recruitment agencies like VMA GROUP to find the right candidate for the job quickly. With a variety of day rate and fixed term contract roles from a multitude of organisations, this proves a key reason of why interims source their roles using agencies.

Since the publication of our