Urgency: I’ll Show you Mine if you show me yours

  By Kathleen Kurke  |    Sunday April 29, 2019

Category: Columns, Expert Advice


Most Recruiters surviving the 3 placement or 6 month milestone have come to appreciate the importance of urgency in making placements.

Sadly, urgency is often a lesson learned in hindsight when we’re nursing the wounds of mismatched urgency. It can take the form of us not find the right candidate before the client makes their hire, or us losing a candidate to another opportunity because the client didn’t move fast enough to keep your candidate interested.

It’s the mismatch of urgency that causes heartbreak and agita. Because ‘urgency’ is one of those words that can mean different things to different people, no single definition of the word can claim status the ‘the’ definition. What matters most is that you understand what ‘urgency’ means to your client and adjust if and how you work with them accordingly.

Let’s look at how you can ask to understand ‘urgency’ as your client defines it so you can then measure it and leverage it to help make more placements.


Uncovering Urgency

Many prospective clients will tell us their openings or their hiring needs are ‘urgent’, and we know that word can mean different things to different people. Here are 5 questions to ask prospective clients to better understand where filling a particular opening sits on their list of priorities:

How important is it that you fill this role?

How long has the role been open?

How has the work been getting done while it’s been open?

What happens if you keep going on that path?


Of the top 5 things on your plate, where does filling this opening rank?(What makes it so high/low?)

Note: Clients often answer these questions with vague and imprecise phrases that don’t tell us anything about their truth. Not because they’re bad people, but because recruiters don’t always ask like they really care. We care. Ask for precision. Danger phrases: nice to have, like to have, if you find, we’re thinking about, keeping our eyes open for. Words you’re listening for: imperative, mission critical, my job is on the line, make or break


Measuring Urgency

Once the prospective client has clarified the importance of filling the role, it’s time to measure the urgency. Being able to quantify the specific costs and/or benefits to solving the problem, or filling the role, can be helpful when negotiating fees, working terms, and project timeframes. Here are questions that will help you measure the client’s urgency in acting to fill the opening.

What’s the cost of the role being open?

Whose budget does that affect?

Whose job security does that affect?

How much revenue are you losing with this role open?

What’s the opportunity cost of having this role open?

How much revenue are your competitors generating in this territory while you leave it open?

What’s it costing you in overtime to have this role open? In staff fatigue and overwhelm?


Leveraging Urgency

If the client’s need to fill this opening isn’t urgent compared to other business priorities, it’s still possible they’ll make a hire and you can make a placement. Possible, but not probable. That’s important information that can help you in several important parts of the placement process.

When taking a Job Order, asking questions to find and measure the client’s urgency are an important part of your diagnostic process. When a client’s need is urgent and you can quantify its importance, you are in a better position to propose an engaged or exclusive working partnership because you can quantify the benefits they’ll experience by getting their problem solved.

During a Project Kick-off, you can leverage urgency by locking in pre-set interview schedules and a project completion date because you can quantify when they’ll begin to reap the benefits of having the problem solved.

When exchanging commitments with the client, you’ll be in a better position to get agreement on timely feedback and candidate advancement because you’ll be able to quantify the cost of delay.

When/if a project needs course correction (am I the only one this ever happens to?), having had a conversation about urgency gives you a reference point for bringing the project back on track. “When we kicked off our work together, it was important that you have the new person on board by xx/xx/xx so you can start to see an improvement of results before the end of 2nd quarter. Have your priorities shifted?”.

When negotiating an offer for a candidate, the data you’ve gathered about the client’s urgency in solving this problem can be valuable in helping a client realize that an additional $10K in a candidate’s salary will help the realize $100K (or whatever the disparity is in your deal situation) in business results. We can only have discussions at this level of specificity when at the end of the process if we’ve gathered the cost/benefit information at this level of specificity at the beginning of the process.

If the client cannot articulate and calculate the urgency of an opening, go find another opening!



Kathleen Kurke
Meet her on LinkedIn: Kathleen Tighe Kurke



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