Interim Hiring Trends

The Talmix Atlas is our analysis of our Talent Marketplace datasets (across both our international client base and 60,000+ talent network) to reveal key findings about workforce and talent trends across geographies in 2023.

In the last editions, we've directed our focus on the Middle East, APAC, North America & Europe. Now, we turn our focus to interim hiring trends across all geographies.

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The results of the latest survey of European interim managers have just been released by INIMA – the International Network of Interim Manager Associations.

Interim hires are growing across markets. 73% of interims reported they were on assignment in January 2023 versus 55% two years ago and 67% last year. 55% of all interim gigs were at the Board or C-level. All evidence points to interim leadership on-demand as an area of real continuing European growth in 2023.

We analysed our own Marketplace data to draw findings across industries, and on a global scale – seeking to uncover the reasons as to why more and more businesses are turning to interims to meet market challenges and fill urgent skills gaps.

Interim Hires are growing on a global scale

A challenging hiring market has compelled many businesses to increase their use of interim talent. In only the first four months of 2023, 14% of all projects posted on the Talmix Marketplace were listed as interim postings. Over the past year, over a quarter of all US postings were for interim leadership assignments. In APAC and the Middle East, these numbers were lower (at 5 and 4% respectively) but nonetheless marked a 60% increase from 2020-21 figures.

It is particularly interesting to note that the average interim assignment durations ranged from 121 to 286 days. The longest tenures were 13 months > (for C-level hires in Europe), and the longest average durations were shared between countries in Western Europe, APAC and the Middle East.

Much of this data negates any notion of interim leadership hires as being passive “seat-warmers” – quick fixes for less than three months while the board finalises a search for an external replacement. In fact, the average experience level for interim leadership hires was about 9-11 years, often brought on board to immediately execute hard decisions, serve as turn-around leaders, or as high-impact agents of change.

Why are businesses embracing interim talent?

The growing need for temporary leadership shines a spotlight on the considerable difficulties that organizations are facing in today’s volatile markets, and the vital role played by competent talent that can hit the ground running and drive critical efforts in the face of relentless change. In response to a growing demand to achieve more with fewer resources, and in less time, business leaders are increasingly recognizing the advantages of leveraging readily available expertise, who can bridge skill gaps and navigate uncertainty, while maintaining flexibility on capacity and cost.

Flexibility and choice are equally key drivers for talent too, as part of a growing trend of independent workers seeking interim work over full-time placements. Interim talent have carved a niche for themselves, entering new roles with a feeling of greater ownership, excitement and motivation about their work, which naturally translates to fresher perspectives, experiences and end products. Businesses no longer baulk at the thought of hiring an interim executive – though premium business talent may come at higher prices, it’s often much cheaper than lost opportunity costs or the cost of permanent hire who fails to deliver.

This is most evident across Europe, and the US, where demand for interim hires, and particularly for interim executives, is growing at a steadily increasing rate year-on-year. Recent examples of Talmix marketplace postings include a request for a temporary CEO to handle an upcoming acquisition, a CTO to lead an urgent Cost Optimization initiative, an interim CFO to drive the finance and integration aspects of a newly acquired portfolio, and an interim HR lead to restructure a global Compensation and Benefits strategy.

As we can see from the types of postings, it’s very much about getting critical, and often very specific, work done well and quickly – this is a high-stakes process that requires the support of a rather limited pool of talent with deep industry heritage, reliability and expertise. Businesses have found access to this talent through talent marketplaces like Talmix, which are able to provide that crucial injection of top-flight talent, unencumbered by organizational politics and biases, to address critical needs on-demand and focus solely on getting the work done.

Female interim hires increase

It is pleasing to see female interim hires on the rise between 2019 and 2023, and the number of women being hired into leadership positions following the same pattern. 20% of all global interim hires made between 2020 and 2023 have been female hires. In the UK, this stands at 19% - in 2019, the same figure stood at 0%. The relentless pursuit of attracting and retaining the best talent has become an organizational priority, demanding a commitment to embracing diversity and cultivating crucial competitive advantages. It is refreshing to see equal opportunity being given based on skill and talent alone.

The Industries and Functions Driving Interim Hires

The three principal business challenges leading to interim assignments were in financial services, project management and corporate strategy. From an industry perspective, the industries most likely to engage interims were Manufacturing, Healthcare and Technology. The top seven primary functional specialities of Interim Hires were general consulting, project management, transformation, operations, financial services and supply chain.

Every business leader should question whether any critical role is better served by the extended workforce, accelerating the ability to deliver business transformation. The new interim is objectives and outcome led, and the growing use of interims is a further proof point of the extended workforce becoming ever more vital to business.

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