As a senior-level professional who works on an interim basis, you have the kind of career flexibility many of your full-time counterparts envy. If you work for a reputable staffing firm, you can stay busy in challenging roles and enjoy a steady stream of interesting assignments. You can also request extended breaks between assignments when you need a little downtime.
But how much time should you take between temporary management jobs? There's no universal answer to this question. The length of the breaks you take between assignments will depend partly on your plans but also on your staffing firm's requirements and the effort you put into maintaining your professional status while you're "off the clock."
The benefits of breaks in your career
Taking a break from work can benefit your health by allowing you time to rest, relax and recharge. It can also support your well-being in other ways, such as giving you time to cultivate strong relationships with your family and community. You can travel, work on projects or develop hobbies.
A break of a few days or weeks between temporary management jobs can also be good for your consulting career. You might choose to spend the periods between assignments attending industry events to network in person or you could work as a volunteer or continue your professional development with a management training program. Any of these activities can help to raise your profile among your peers, potential employers and other valuable business contacts.
How long is too long?
If you've already built up a portfolio of senior-level project consulting jobs, hiring managers can immediately see your value and may not be concerned by breaks between your past consulting jobs. But don't get too complacent.
Before you decide to devote a year or two to yourself, consider the effect too much time off will have on your career. If you allow a very long gap between assignments, your lack of recent experience may make you a less marketable candidate for temporary management jobs. Plus, you’ll won’t have a chance to gradually adapt to the changes in your field that will inevitably occur while you’re off.
Take a professionally active break
The precise length of time you take between temporary management jobs is up to you, but even if you choose to take an extended career break, there are many ways to stay professionally active during that time. For example, you could:
- Join — or deepen — your current membership in professional associations to help you stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices.
- Use LinkedIn and other social media channels to build your consulting network and keep in touch with professional contacts.
- Read industry blogs, white papers and other thought leadership material relevant to your industry.
- Spend time analyzing your strengths and ambitions to decide exactly what type of role you'd like to work in next.
- Keep in contact with your staffing firm to stay apprised of potential opportunities and lay the groundwork for your next assignment.
- Take time to earn a new certification or learn new skills.
Using your downtime for more than just rest and recreation will help ensure that when your break is over, you'll be refreshed and ready to pursue new temporary management jobs.