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How To Hire Competitively In A Talent Shortage


Today, more than two-thirds of organizations struggle to find skilled workers — up from 14% 10 years ago. And according to a 2019 survey of senior executives, this shortage of qualified talent tops the list of the “greatest emerging risks” to companies worldwide. By 2030, a recent study by Korn Ferry predicted vacant positions may be costing companies an estimated $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenue. 

In commercial real estate, the talent shortage is hitting construction hardest of all, combining with factors like rising material costs to wallop the industry with rising construction costs. But no sector of the industry is immune.

"Capital is easy to get. There’s a lot of liquidity on the market. The deal flow is very vibrant. What’s holding companies back is that they can’t hire people to do the work," Kaye/Bassman Recruiting’s Managing Director of Construction and Real Estate Jeff Wittenberg said. "Companies that may have an opportunity to grow by 20% to 50% just can’t, because we just can’t find talent."

Wittenberg sees the shortage as a consequence of the 2008 recession. "The impact the Great Recession had in our industry was like blowing a hole in a bucket and everything pouring out," he said. "So many CRE and construction companies downsized. So many went out of business. And schools weren’t graduating as many people in real estate or in construction. It created a real gap in talent at all levels."

Today, Wittenberg said, the resulting inability to fill vacant positions is a problem for companies across the commercial real estate industry. But while available candidates with the right skills and qualifications may be scarce, they are out there, and there are things hiring managers can do to hire them out from under the competition.

Keep Things Moving

According to CRE Recruiting principal and founder Allison Weiss, one of the most practical things a company can do when they find a good fit is to pick up the pace.

“The most successful clients that I work with are decisive and fast-moving when they find the candidate they like,” she said. “Moving quickly — not dragging out the interview process but trying to combine as many meetings as possible to avoid long delays — can help people overcome some of the challenges of a tight talent market.”

Smarter Marketing

For every qualified middle management or executive position candidate searching for a new opportunity, there are multiple companies searching for that candidate. Wittenberg’s company Kaye/Bassman recommended taking a close look at marketing practices to help bring candidates to you. 

These practices include optimizing the Careers page on a company's website, collaborating with marketing personnel to send newsletters or quarterly updates with job postings enclosed, and differentiating job postings from the competition.

For example, job postings should endeavor to "sell first and screen later." Look at how much space in a job listing is devoted to explaining the necessary requirements and qualifications, and how much is is devoted to selling the role’s attributes, the company's ideology, the great benefits and the opportunity for upward mobility. 

Competitive Salaries

It's no big secret that money talks. But to stay competitive in hiring, companies should be up to speed with the market and ready to make offers commensurate with — or even a step a head of — a healthy economy.

"We’re at a point where the market has been in such a healthy place for so long," Weiss said. "Clients may not anticipate or realize that we've reached a point where, if they're willing to be more aggressive from a compensation perspective, that will help edge out the competition."