Real estate recruitment specialist Sharon Bennie gives principals some simple yet proven tips on preparing for the inevitable time when staff leave

WE ALL agree that real estate is a people industry and the quality of staff that we have in our business is a major factor in the success and profitability of most agencies. What we as a recruitment team find most surprising, therefore, is the absence of ongoing or proactive recruitment efforts by most of the companies we work for.

The need for our team’s services falls quite obviously into two categories – predictable and unpredictable.

That is, we can predict when there will be the most vacancies in the marketplace as these fall directly after long periods of vacation, and late-January and early-February generally see the annual peak occur. So far this year, February 5 has seen the most recruitment activity, with 73 new real estate jobs posted on Seek in NSW alone.

As an employer or agency general manager, these spikes in resignations will mean higher competition for good staff and the need for a speedy and often less rigorous hiring process, which most often leads to failure. In addition, passive job seekers (those who are in jobs at that time and tend to be of a higher calibre) shy away from browsing jobs during these periods, meaning exciting positions with top brands are often lost in the ‘noise’.

With one company commenting that it has taken up to five months to find the right hire in the past, the potential hazard of being left with gaps in your business or taking on less than ‘A1’ staff can be mitigated.

What it takes is an ongoing attraction strategy that nets a pool of talent, or a database of potential employees who you know would move to your business if a vacancy arose. For instance:

  • Start CV files for the major positions that you have within your business – sales, property management, administration
  • Invest time in a ‘careers’ tab or a ‘working with us’ tab on your website, where interested parties can find out more about your team culture and what it’s like to work for your business, as well as submit their CVs
  • Interact with your local TAFE or education facility
  • Engage a recruiter to be constantly on the lookout for you. Most recruiters don’t charge a fee unless you choose to employ someone they have put up
  • Be committed to building relationships

Other great initiatives we have seen to grow a pool of talent have come out of franchise groups. There is the annual scholarship program from Laing+Simmons, and this year has seen the commencement of the McGrath Academy.

While this isn’t possible for everyone, there are more localised options that could be considered by individual offices or agencies that have teamed with other offices in their area, such as career nights.

The other factor to consider in planning ahead is team structure. Having a plan in place to enable seamless promotion from within the business and recruitment into the lower-level roles is much less risky for business in times of peak vacancies. To assist with this:

  • Build job descriptions with ‘stretch roles’ and outline key competencies that someone must achieve to be promoted
  • Structure staff so that team members are constantly learning about the job above them.
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