Shift Happens – Now What?

  By Kathleen Kurke  |    Sunday November 12, 2018

Category: Columns, Expert Advice


If doesn’t matter when you got into this business, there’s one thing we can all say for sure: Things have changed since you started. 

• Maybe you started when your ‘data base’ involved cardboard pump cards, written planners and fire-hazard high piles of resumes.  

• Or, maybe you started when you were still tethered to your desk by a twirly phone cord that was always getting tangled.

• Was it when there was an actual human gatekeep answering the phone that challenged you to come up with clever and sneaky ways to have her put you through?

• Or, was it in the days when the sound that caught your attention while you were supposed to be making calls was the fax machine spitting out a new resume instead of the “you’ve got mail” ding?

• Was it when you were you certain that the blossoming job boards would put our currently flourishing $26B dollar industry out of business?

Regardless of whether these examples make you wince or cry, they’re tangible reminders that things in our business change. Always have, always will. 

And, there’s more. 

We can be searching for a client for days or weeks on end and feel surprised (and, angry) when things have changed on their end and they no longer need or want what we’ve been looking for. 


We don’t talk to a candidate for days during an interview process, for whatever reason (it’s never our fault, right?), and then we’re surprised (and, angry) when things have changed, and they’ve now decided they’re going to pick up and move across the country to pursue their passion for frisbee golf. 


A client for whom we’ve been doing great work gets acquired by a company that fired us last year and all hiring will now be going through the parent company. Ooopsi. 

Here’s the truth: SHIFT HAPPENS.

Always. Everywhere. Always has, always will.

We cannot control it. 

We cannot stop it. 

But, we can acknowledge it.

And, even more importantly, we can assume it. 

So, we can ask about it.  

Build questions asking about change into every conversation with candidates or client so you’re a part of the change process as it’s happening and not feeling like the victim of change at the back end. 

“What’s changed?” REALLY ask it, and REALY Listen for the answer. Listen like the answer matters, because it does!

“Last time we talked, A, B and C were your priorities. What are your current priorities? In what order of priority?” Asking this question demonstrates you’ve been listening. You’re feeding back the specifics of what you’ve heard, and it increases the quality and specificity of what you’ll learn in return. 

“We know change is a constant, so let’s assume it’s a part of your reality. What’s different than when we started our work together?” This is a great question for giving the candidate and client permission to share their truth. 

Always talk about change. Don’t let it be the elephant in the room. Assume it’s happening, you just want to know the details. Ask questions that require more thought in answering than “what’s new?”. 

SHIFT Happens – Be a part of it.

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