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Maximising your day rate

Maximising your day rate

Victoria Johnston Market Insight, Career Advice


How to maximise your day rate in a downturn

We understand the value of senior HR Interim candidates at Frazer Jones. You will usually have operated at a very senior level and have proven yourself many times over on complex projects in difficult economic climates and complicated or distressed organisations. A proven interim background is a skillset in itself.

One of the main concerns that came for my interim network circa 2008/09 when so many HR people were made redundant was that the newly available pool of HR people would drive down day rates. And they did, a little for a little while. What happened was that the mid-level Interim workaround £500 per day might go to an available permanent profile candidate who was available for £350/400 per day. A lot of the interim workaround at that time involved making people redundant, managing collective consultations, employee relations, industrial relations so having those key skills were key to securing the work and it wasn’t so important if you’d done this in your permanent career or many times over as an interim.

I feel that it took a couple of years for rates to come back up again across commerce and industry – party because the market got much better but also because organisations did start to truly value what a practised interim could do. The very senior work, the change, transformation and growth-related strategy, on the whole, went to the seasoned interims who perhaps flexed on their rates but overall maintained the level at which they’d usually operate.

This downturn is different from the 2008 financial crisis for many reasons – first of all, the mass redundancies were not an immediate focus, it is far more gradual this time. 

The interim work this time has been maternity cover, maintenance and growth in many cases and a lot of the change has focused on project managing furloughs, communications and business continuity, performance and reward. Our clients don’t feel its right to add to headcount but need interim support, so they want seasoned help – candidates who are practised interims.

Whilst I encourage a degree of flexibility, there are things you can do to maximise your day rate.

Here are my top tips:
  1. Hone in on your skills and experience. Take some time to think about what you’ve done as it is easy to forget when you’ve worked hard in consecutive assignments. What are your key skills and where do you really get results? Org design? ER? Transformation or the Private equity-backed turnaround for example?

  2. Use your sectors to your advantage. Since the last downturn, my biggest challenge in HR recruitment has been that organisations can be very sector-specific. If you have a variety of sectors on your CV, use that to your advantage – you are flexible and versatile. Or, do you have a niche? If you have only worked in technology, for example, that is your niche, your area of expertise and you can be seen as having higher value in that sector.

  3. Stats. Talk about your deliverables. Being an Interim means that you often go into an organisation to deliver something specific and very high value. Explain the size, scale of the organisation and job, the value of the projects, return on investment. Use stats, talk about metrics.

  4. Stick to your guns on your rate. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t be flexible in a downturn, we all have to flex but if you compromise your rate too much you have to question if the role is actually at the right level for you. If you’d like to have a confidential chat about your own rate and job search, please get in touch.

If you would like to be provided with a market update, benchmark rates or you would like to explore personal opportunities and/or discuss any key hiring and or Change/Transformations projects you may need interim support please do get in touch with me.