Why Urgency is Critical in the Recruitment Market

Why is urgency critical in the recruitment market? Do you believe that you act with enough urgency anyway? Perhaps you think that other priorities take precedence over recruitment of personnel? Do you think urgency is over-rated?

The Problem

I work with some great clients and some fantastic candidates. And each placement journey will begin with either a client telling me that they urgently need someone yesterday or a candidate telling me that they want a new job as soon as possible. I tend to prioritise those, for obvious reasons, who declare an urgent need. The problem begins by a misunderstanding of what is defined by urgency.

When someone asks me to find them a candidate or a job I start moving right away. I don’t hang around. Procrastination is not a word I put in the same sentence as Urgency; unless of course it’s this particular sentence. But you get the idea.

I get right to work. Using all of the available channels I am pretty efficient at finding them what they need. Because we are specialists we know the market places we are dealing with anyway. So, if there are obvious issues with a client or a candidate’s expectations being unrealistic, we’ll be up front about it. Therefore, if we agree to work a role for a client or find a job for a candidate we’ll be confident we can find what they are looking for.

The Result

However, we find on occasion that we’ve done our bit finding three or four great candidates that are over and above what we’d promised and who are chomping at the bit for the role. Or we find a client keenly interested in setting up an interview who ticks all of the boxes of the candidates wish list and who will bend over backwards to meet them.


Nothing. The client or candidate is usually polite enough, but will need to look in their diaries for when they can be free. I understand the following day may be tricky. I’m not ignorant enough to believe that a client or candidate can drop everything at a moments notice. But when they come back with their availability and it’s 10 days away I am unsure how to react.

I have been doing this job for years. Yet, I am still baffled as to how oblivious some people can be when it comes to urgency. I wrote a post concerning the current candidate led market.

This post details how tight our current market place is. The UK has a 96% employment rate, a huge skills shortage and is leaving the EU via unclear and yet unagreed Brexit terms inside 6 months.

To put that into context you will have tons of competition for talent if you are an employer because the market is so sparse. In a candidate led market it is the early bird that catches the worm. Urgency therefore is of paramount importance to get the best people.

On the other hand, if you are a candidate, you’ll have a choice when it comes to the jobs market. This in itself is a positive. But despite however many companies that are competing for your talent, only a select few jobs will be the one’s that you actually want. If the hiring managers for those same jobs are taking an age to come back to you, whilst other companies with more average jobs are hassling you, this causes a dilemma. Do you wait around apparently taking a gamble without any clear timescales for the job you want? Or take an average job and play it safe? Most people understandably will only have so long before they take the safe option.

But no news is good news, right?

Maybe and only in the movies. In the recruitment world, in my experience, it doesn’t seem to indicate anything. Some companies move rapidly. Others take so long you presume that they’ve filled the job internally. In fact, in the same companies some hiring managers move at completely different speeds to others.

Also, at different times of the year the same hiring managers can follow patterns of being quicker or slower to respond. This may be down to time running out on using a budget or their own boss pressuring them to fill a specific vacancy.

Why the change of urgency?

It all comes down to priorities of the client. The clients that I prefer working with communicate things regularly. A quick email will suffice. I’d just want to know what is priority and what isn’t vacancy wise. When I have been told something is urgent and spend hours putting other requirements aside only to hear nothing it is incredibly frustrating.

The issue is that hiring managers priorities are constantly fluctuating. Their own boss may give them a task that takes priority and as a recruiter, your consideration in the nicest way, is moved down the pile.

What about candidates being low on urgency?

In my opinion this often comes down to a candidate’s strength of character. For example, if a client requests a candidate for interview at reasonably short notice you can get two different reactions from candidates.

On the one hand some candidate’s will simply make it work and on the other, some will try to negotiate a more convenient time or date for interview. Some recruiters would argue that clients need to be more flexible with candidates to meet their preferred interview times. I can understand this as it is a candidate led market and if the client can’t be flexible and a competitor can, you can guess the outcome.

Whilst I can understand the need for flexibility from the client’s end, I’d argue that unless the candidate is Gods Gift I’d probably think it needs to be more 50/50. Call me old fashioned, but if the client is giving you reasonable notice for an interview and you want the job, make it work.

I also feel that some candidates are simply too shy to want to let their current employer down by throwing a sickie. I personally recall this being something on my mind as a younger man, but I learnt that when it came down to it they wouldn’t feel guilty about letting me down. It’s all very well feeling guilty but put your big boy or big girl pants on and make it work. You’re only holding yourself back if you don’t.

What level of urgency should you work at?

High. Massive urgency and massive action. If you’re a client and want the best candidates move like the wind. Make it happen and fast. If you’re a candidate throw a sickie tomorrow and make yourself available. The more you demonstrate keenness in your actions the more likely you are to get somewhere.

All too often we operate at a mediocre pace. I am not referring just to when hiring or job seeking, but in general life. How many people do you see meandering down the street on their journey to work? But you can tell those who are successful, because they generally walk quickly. Disagree?

Everyone I have ever known, bar none apart from the elderly or disabled for example, who have been highly successful have walked quickly. Maybe it is just me, but I have always paid attention to this because I myself had this pointed out to me in the past.

Why do people generally not work at a rapid pace?

Two words; Comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with wanting to operate and live within your comfort zone. I completely understand the desire for a work life balance. The risk of living life too fast can not be great for your physical or mental wellbeing. I get that and agree.

What I do not agree with is operating consistently and solely in your comfort zone and expecting results. There is a time for operating in your comfort zone and there is a time to take action. If you are a job seeker, you need to take action when it comes to securing employment. Expect it to be tough. Understand it will be hard. But plodding along waiting for something to happen won’t get you the results you want.

If you ask most people, they tend to believe that they work hard. But you can tell someone who gets things done because they are driven to get results. It is the same in job seeking and when trying to hire candidates. You cannot give average action and expect great results.

Isn’t that just an excuse for recruiters to be pushy?

Nobody likes the hard sell. And believe it or not, unless you are a buffoon, you probably don’t like giving the hard sell. If you have mediocre candidates and are trying to give the hard sell to place them, I can understand the annoyance from a client’s perspective. It’s unprofessional and poor quality. But if you have great candidates who are chomping at the bit, who the client’s competition is taking action to interview, then providing a professional nudge to your client should not be seen as pushy. You’re simply looking out for their best interests.

But recruiters have a bad name for being pushy?

The unfortunate reality is that we recall the bad in something for a lot longer than the good. That’s why many review sites can be littered with more complaints than satisfied customers. But, and it pains me to say it, there are a lot of bad recruiters out there.

The industry, like any other has the good, the bad and the ugly. To be frank it annoys me no end regarding some of the practices within the industry. There are recruiters who are simply corrupt in their practices who consider making a quick buck and hitting a target as first priority. It’s so short sighted though. And it’s what gives the industry a questionable reputation.

If you play the long game by relationship building, trust building et al, you start to construct a strong reputation. The problem is that in a candidate led market, clients need talent and when someone becomes for want of a better phrase desperate, a quick result is sought.

If that quick result solves the problem, it seems fantastic. But if that same candidate leaves a few months later and is poached by the same recruiter who placed them, it’s extremely underhand. This practice happens. Fortunately, this is rare, but it’s the type of thing which is remembered.

Get a good recruiter and trust their word

The trick is that when you find a good recruiter, stick with them. Most companies do of course. But equally as important is to listen to their advice. We know the market. If you are a client, we’ll want to build a long-term relationship and getting you great people that will benefit your company will only solidify that. If you are a candidate, then getting you a job you love will only make our clients happy and keep using us. It’s of mutual interest.


The market is fast paced and relentless. Like time, the jobs market waits for nobody. Unless you are a demigod candidate in your chosen field, you cannot afford to hang around. If you are a client move on great people fast. There is a time to relax and there is a time to take massive levels of action. When it comes to the recruitment market, urgency is critical.

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External Links: https://hbr.org/2008/08/harvard-business-ideacast-106.html



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