Recruitment Clinic: The Importance of Prioritisation

Welcome back to another article in the Recruitment Clinic. The very best place for ongoing recruitment tips and advice.

Your week outside the office is full of prioritisation. Full to the brim of stick or twist decisions. Like a real life game of Blackjack, or Pontoon if you’re old school. 

1. Do you stay on for more work drinks on Friday evening or head off to meet other friends elsewhere?

2. Is the CEO going to leave the card behind the bar all night?

3. Do you save room for dessert, or go all in on the starter and main?

4. Do you try to sell that unwanted birthday present on eBay or just file it away in a cupboard somewhere, waiting to be discarded in your next house move?

When it comes to your job the stakes are raised… which ‘hot’ role do you work with urgency, and which ones on the back burner?

Let’s not beat around the bush. You don’t want to be in the office more than necessary. There are good things happening in the world, and you want to be enjoying them. Working smart will help you do that. You want to work on the quick wins. Jobs you know you’ll actually win, for a start, but also ones that won’t become wasted time.

There are always targets to be met and there isn’t much point in continuing at all if you’re not trying to find a way to hit or beat them. You’ve got a limited amount of time, everything seems to be urgent, and your boss is asking every six minutes if you’ve closed that deal yet.

Food

So what do you do?

People often get pulled towards the issues that are shouting the loudest.

This involves running from one crisis to another, doing just enough to avert total disaster before moving on again. This is particularly problematic in Recruitment, when there’s always something that seems to be bordering on catastrophe. The massive disadvantage of this is that you’re unlikely to take anything through to a conclusion, and you’ll spend a lot of time wondering if you’re about to have some kind of breakdown.

You need a strategy. And, most importantly, you need to prioritise.

Given that you’ve already made the decision to prioritise reading this article, I owe it to you to make this advice as ‘to the point’ as possible, so let’s try to nail this with one question only:

When does a deal close?

Do you know the answer? I mean, really know? Not your best guess, but the actual answer.

This means that you’ve asked your client, you’ve asked your candidate, and you’ve all agreed that the final decision will be made and the necessary admin will be done by a specific date.

Now, you’re going to say this isn’t always possible. You may have a good indication, but there’s stuff you can’t control.

It is however possible to know when a deal will close before you do any work on it at all. For the sake of argument, let’s give this scenario the tag ‘100%’.

At the other end of the scale, there is the role that has no budget, no start date, no interview slots, and you never seem to be able to get the decision makers to engage in any kind of communication. Let’s give this one the tag ‘0%’.

Now all you have to do is assign a value to all of your opportunities that reflects your certainty surrounding the close date. Then, next to the percentage, write down the closing date.

I.e. Senior Software Developer. 95% 16/09/17

Once you’ve done this simple exercise, it’s surprisingly easy to prioritise your live roles.

High Percentage + Short Timeframe = Priority

Of course, you’ll need to review your priority list regularly, as things change. But if they do, you can just go one rung down the ladder, and move on. At some point you’ll be looking at other priorities too.

There are still going to be those people shouting. They could be clients, candidates, colleagues. But just because they’re shouting, doesn’t mean you have to react. You’ve already made your choice, based on some actual information and your professional intuition.

If you just go running to the loudest voice, you’ll miss the deals that actually would have closed for you within the right timeframe… You’ll miss the best nights out. You’ll fill up on bread.


Martin Jones is a Recruiter. From 1999 onwards, he’s worked across multiple sectors and geographies, generating revenue and leading teams. He is a Partner at KnownFour, building a pioneering recruitment business.