Working with interim providers
Interim service providers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are industry and sector specialists, others are generalists, and it is your challenge to find the right one for you.
Many of the leading interim providers are members of the Interim Management Association and they work to an agreed standard, to which they must sign up as an important part of their membership.
Firstly, let’s examine why they are called providers and not an agency:
- They do not want to be confused with an employment agency
- They have two clients namely, you, the interim and the ultimate client
- They are looking for a long-term relationship with their interim managers and clients
Finding the right provider
Bearing in mind that providers account for only about 25% of all interim work, they are still an essential part of your marketing mix.
While we have met up with interims who claim never to have used a provider, equally we know of some who have always worked with providers. We know of some who are registered with 3 or 4 providers, whilst others take a 'more the merrier' approach.
It’s essential that you find the right ones for you. You should, of course, ask your friends and colleagues if they have had good experiences (and get introductions if possible!). Other than that, you should turn to databases such as the one on this website, (link to it) where you can put in your market segment and up will come the providers who say they deal in your arena.
Next you have to ring them and ask questions about what they do, their markets, the process they use for bringing on new interim managers and how/if you could work together. There is no point wasting time building a relationship with an interim service provider who does not work in your function/sector or at your level. Almost all will ask you to send in your CV (see CV writing tips) but do not be alarmed if a few will not talk to you until you have your limited company in place, such is the fear among providers of being targeted by HMRC.
Keeping in touch
A few days after sending your CV you should ask to see them (not all will agree, but most will, assuming your CV is impressive). The reason meetings are important is quite simply that when an assignment comes in, the consultant will invariably think who do I know, who have I met? The consultant will then ask the same question of his/her colleagues before turning to the database.
Keeping in touch with your consultant is essential, but stalking them every Friday afternoon asking for work is quite unacceptable! Every six to eight weeks is about right with:
- Just going/coming back from holiday
- Just starting/finishing an assignment
- Just updated my CV (favourite!)
You need to build a relationship with the consultants and will have to work at it. Start off by treating them as you would a client prospect. Certainly at first, you see a need for them more than they see a need for you!