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Should you take an interim role, which might entail compromise around salary or level of responsibility, or should you stay on the golf course / gym whilst waiting for that perfect permanent job to arise

I’m occasionally asked by lawyers about the merits of interim roles over permanent jobs.  The question most frequently arises when an individual is not currently working (perhaps through redundancy), and is ideally looking for another permanent job.  Essentially the question goes: “should I take an interim role, which might entail compromise around salary or level of responsibility, or should I stay on the golf course / gym whilst waiting for that perfect permanent job to arise”.

To address the misconception first; Often the lawyers that I assist will be interested to learn how an interim role might be perceived by the wider recruitment market.  Typically reservations around taking an interim appointment will centre on whether there is a negative perception of a professional that has been made redundant.  Whilst in years past there may have been some truth to that, to me it seems to almost be a ‘non-issue‘ these days.  This is probably due to the large numbers of high calibre lawyers who were  made redundant between 2008 and 2010, so many so that I’m sure we all know good lawyers who were ‘caught out’ by the recession.

However, turning to the positives, there are many other reasons why it is a very good plan to be considering interim roles as part of a job search.

Things change – A ‘temp job’ today, a perm job tomorrow?  Many are the permanent roles that have been filled in this manner by an interim lawyer who has impressed during an assignment.  Of course it works both ways and could give you a low risk chance to ‘try before you buy’ and see if a particular company and its culture is right for you.

‘People – …know people’, as the saying goes.  Your interim line manager might also know peers in other companies who might need to hire a lawyer.

Technical Skills – Stop that legal brain from atrophying, and learn new skills.  Treat the interim assignment as a way to enhance your CV and gain technical legal experience on new contractual issues, or corporate matters.

Broaden your generalist experience – Even identically named job titles from company to company  will have its quirks and issues that are unique to a particular business.  Adaptability is one of the key skills for an in-house lawyer, and as an interim you’ll have a chance to demonstrate that skill.

So for taking an interim role, it might be as basic as keeping a steady salary coming in, or it may be a way to enhance your marketability.  Think of temporary or contract opportunities as another way to advance your career, learn new skills and make new contacts.

For more information please contact Tom Fleet and BCL Legal.

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