What do you do when you’re stuck “off assignment”?

It's a tough market out there

It’s a tough market out there

Over the past couple of weeks a rather wonderful discussion thread has been unfurling at LinkedIn (an unexpected sentence I never thought I’d write).

The members of the Interim Managers Group  have been discussing what they do when they’re out of work – stuck “off assignment” .

This is heartening, not just because of the advice they’re sharing (of which more later), but  for the  simple fact that they are publicly acknowledging that even the most experienced interim has periods out of work when no matter how good you are, how expert, how well connected, you still can’t get hired for love nor money.

People rarely feel comfortable owning up to the fact that they’re not as successful/busy/in demand/well-remunerated as they’d like to be.  There’s lots of success shared over the networks of LinkedIn, but very few accounts of troughs to go with the peaks.  Having just finished a period “off assignment” myself, I was particularly cheered by this thread. People tend not to talk about this side of consultancy so it’s perfectly possible to believe that you are the only person who doesn’t move seamlessly from one well-paid assignment to the next. But hey, waddya know, everyone’s in the same boat.  Lots of people – experienced, well-qualified, massively employable people – sometime endure hair-raisingly long gaps between assignments.

Advice from the horse’s mouth

It’s the notion of a shared experience rather than any one piece of practical advice which will be the most help to me next time I’m caught in between jobs. But here’s a digest of practical suggestions for what to do if you’re temporarily without billable work, with thanks to the massed ranks of LinkedIn’s interim managers:

  • Maintain a structure to your day, your week, your month. Set some goals to achieve, work-related or not, and work towards them.
  • Keep your networking fresh, especially during the time you’re in an assignment otherwise your network may see you making contact only when you’re looking for work.
  • Create a business plan every year which will ensure the business is sustainable. Plan in time for personal development and marketing activity.
  • Go to as many industry events as you can to keep your network and industry knowledge up to date.
  • Work on your Linked In profile:
    1- Look at other profiles and see how yours can be improved
    2- Participate in discussions
    3 -Look at your home page every day – use CTRL-F to search for       relevant postings.
  • Email your ISP contacts every 6-8 weeks to remind them you are still looking.
  • Keep the faith – you will find work again.

And here are some tips from a different source on how to stay positive while you’re looking.

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