How interim management can benefit former MPs

Some of the MPs that lost their jobs in the General Elections may have the skills needed to enter the interim management market, Ian Joseph says

The General Election saw dozens of MPs lose their jobs. Amongst the list of casualties were high profile names including Labour’s Ed Balls, Liberal Democrats Vince Cable and Ed Davey and the Conservative Ester McVey, as well as a raft of lesser known MPs.

For many, this sudden exit from Parliament will come as a shock. Indeed, anyone who has been made redundant will know the feeling. While they have come from different sides of the House, all are now in the same boat, contemplating their future careers and thinking about new opportunities.

But how exactly should they approach job hunting?

Some of these ex-politicians may find it harder than they think to find work. One potential problem is the “toxic fumes” attached to former MPs who have a record of voting on contentious issues.  For example, whatever you think of the decision to invade Iraq, the fact that someone voted for it is on public record and hirers may make a judgement. A related issue is the expenses scandal; if someone was embroiled in this, it will be discovered.

Those who don’t have much experience outside of politics may also struggle. While many Conservative MPs have connections in the City they can fall back on, many will find it hard to demonstrate their transferable skills. How do you translate the skills required for being a back bench MP or junior minister into the realms of another career?

The MPs that are likely to do the best are those that had careers prior to politics such as lawyers, teachers, and City workers. In some respects they can pick up where they left off.

Left wing politicians often go on to have careers in the voluntary sector either as executives or consultants, and many MPs from all sides will go on to develop portfolio careers as consultants, non-executives and/or interim managers. Someone like Ed Balls, whose entire career has been in the political sphere, would be well suited to joining a high profile think tank.

One of the options open to MPs is interim management. Increasingly, we’re seeing strong demand for senior people with specialist skills to work with businesses on projects, especially those focused on change and transformation.

In terms of where the opportunities are – our latest snap shot survey of 17,000 interims managers published today shows that demand for interims has risen steadily across all sectors, with 48 per cent of interims on assignment in the last six months up from 45% in June last year.

Nearly half of all interims (46 per cent) are recruited to run change and transformation projects, 17 per cent hired for their specialist skills and just seven per cent to fill a gap left by a sudden departure – the more traditional use of interim managers. Banks, financial services firms, healthcare organisations and manufacturers are currently the three interim employers.

There has been a growing trend over the past few years for more people to work independently, as interims, freelancers or self-employed and it’s certainly an option now open to MPs who have business skills or experience in specific areas, such as the NHS or finance. However, former MPs must be able to demonstrate that they have the pre-requisite experience.

Interim management could give them the flexibility to try a number of roles and organisations on short term projects to experience life outside the corridors of Westminster.

However, anyone thinking about going down the interim route needs to approach it in the right way. It can be challenging for those used to the security of having a full time job and they will need to market themselves to beat the competition for jobs. They will need to think and act like a ‘Serious Small Business’.

Here are some tips for anyone considering life as an interim:

·         What are your strengths? – What are your needs? – Is there a market for what you have to offer?

·         Make sure you have a financial cushion before you take the plunge

·         Talk with as many other interim managers as you can to get a good ‘feel’ for what being an interim is like.

·         Decide on your unique selling proposition and how you will target clients

·         Prepare a business plan

·         You will need a new CV and some interim providers offer a dedicated CV service to support you 

·         Be flexible and ready to learn new skills.

·        Think of yourself as a serious small business –  you will have to do all the things a business owner would do including business planning & strategy, marketing, selling, accounting and IT

·        Present yourself as a complete professional. Meet and register with a couple of IMA approved Interim Management agencies as they will help you find assignments

·        You need to be able to be self-motivated and get on with the job of generating business – even though you may not always feel like it.

·        Ensure you have a good network of contacts. Join interim management networks on LinkedIn or attend events run by Interim Providers.

·         Once you are sure this is what you want to do stick at it and don’t give up!



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