How Are CRE Firms Still Nabbing Top Talent In A Remote Work World?
Commercial real estate has always been a boots-on-the-ground type of job. Expertise requires a deep knowledge of local markets. Deals are made in person and closed with a handshake.
Now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, CRE firms are questioning whether their employees actually need to be together in a workplace and whether everyone even needs to work in the same city. The question of whether remote work can survive long-term is going to be more fraught for real estate than for many other industries.
Some employers are still aiming to find new hires locally, capitalizing on a buyer’s market for talent in the markets where they already work. But others are finding that a portion of their new hires can be flexibly or even permanently remote. So how can employers make the most of the socially distanced state of hiring?
Which Roles Can Be Remote?
Whether or not real estate firms should hire a new employee locally or open the role to remote work will depend on numerous factors, perhaps most importantly the core responsibilities of the role. An analyst or data scientist who combs through spreadsheets of comps is likely to be able to perform their work from anywhere. It may also be cheaper to hire employees who live outside the core cities where real estate firms typically have their main offices.
“If an employee in suburban Pennsylvania can do the same work as someone in Manhattan, it may make financial and logistical sense to hire remotely,” said Oliver Medcalf, director of operations at SelectLeaders, a real estate job site and network.
Other roles will be much more difficult to make remote: property managers who need to be on-site in buildings on a weekly basis, brokers who need a block-by-block knowledge of the buildings in their core markets, directors who play a hands-on role in asset leasing. Even if they may not be physically back in the office or on-site, hiring managers may want to keep hiring locally so that employees are available when buildings open back up.
Hiring managers should also consider the seniority of the role. Real estate firms may be comfortable hiring a remote employee for an entry-level role that reports to a single manager, Medcalf said, but directors, vice presidents and positions that interface with many different teams or the executive suite may be harder to push outside the firm’s headquarters.
Technology To Hire Smarter
While investing in hiring software might seem like a big step, especially for small firms, everyone who touches the recruiting process can benefit from having technology that organizes and screens résumés, SelectLeaders principal Marc Torrey said. Application tracking systems can make sure pertinent information is available at a glance and can help keep the best candidates’ résumés from falling through the cracks.
Roles that bill themselves as being remote-friendly may attract a wider talent pool, but all those additional applications can be difficult to track. Hiring systems that scan résumés can show where applicants are coming from in a single dashboard, allowing recruiters to quickly determine which applicants are best suited for the role.
Small Firms Require A Deep Search
Though there are behemoth companies across the industry, most CRE firms comprise only a handful of employees. Even with more employees looking for work now than in recent years, replacing a single employee who represents 10% or more of a company’s staff can be a struggle. As hiring has slowed over the course of the pandemic, Medcalf said, demand has nonetheless risen for recruitment and executive search services that can seek out candidates to fill niche roles in the world of CRE.
“Many of these boutique firms don’t have built-out human resources departments,” Medcalf said. “They have full-time jobs and don’t have the time to comb through dozens of résumés. Using a search firm can bring the extra care and attention to finding a new position that smaller firms might not be able to get on their own.”
Embracing The New Age Of Recruiting
The pandemic has interrupted many classic recruiting techniques, from simply bringing new hires into the office for an interview to taking candidates out for a meal. But some firms are adapting and working to create facsimiles of the effective hiring processes they know. For local hires, a candidate and their eventual manager can likely still meet safely in person while outdoors and either masked or distanced.
Although it may feel as though the pandemic has forced CRE professionals to cling to the jobs they have, there is a remarkable appetite for change across the industry. According to a survey of CRE professionals released by SelectLeaders, 77% of employees are open to making a career change in 2021.
“There’s a definite appetite for change from employees in the industry,” Torrey said. “Even in a slower hiring environment, that could mean a large shift coming for the next year.”
This article was produced in collaboration between SelectLeaders and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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