Kent Elliott, Principal and John Colelli, Director, RETS Associates
Record-breaking low unemployment rates—currently at 3.9 percent nationally—indicate a thriving economy, but companies trying to fill critical positions are seeing the downside of this labor market. Real estate and development firms throughout the United States are struggling to find and hire qualified talent. Along the West Coast, the Seattle and Portland markets reflect the U.S. levels, while Orange County at 3.2 percent and San Francisco at 2.8 percent unemployment are experiencing extremely competitive hiring conditions. Denver matches the Bay Area at a 2.8 percent rate, and the situation is also competitive in Chicago, Dallas, and Charlotte.
Ironically, technology isn’t the answer. Real estate executives will tell you that their companies’ successes are based on the human factor—the knowledge and communication skills only people can provide. Nothing beats having a solid team in place—the right people in the right places with the right skills. However, finding them and making the right match is not a slam-dunk, even for high-profile corporations.
Because today’s candidates come to the table with more leverage than in past years, companies looking to hire should develop a well-organized game plan for selecting and acquiring top talent. Here are some proven steps to put your firm in a winning role.
Have a Process in Place
Just as you wouldn’t go into a client presentation without organizing your talking points, take a similar approach in hiring. Is the position well defined, including reporting structure, responsibilities, income, and benefits? What specific qualities are you seeking in a person for this role, and how will you assess each candidate?
Most important: Have a very compelling reason why a person should be eager to join your organization. You’re selling your company to prospective employees as part of the interview process. Your corporate culture will be a key element in attracting and retaining talent, so finding a comfortable fit is critical. It may be difficult for in-house Human Resources to be candid about those factors, but a third-party recruiter often can recognize and interpret the subtle details that make the difference in establishing a solid match between a candidate and a company.
Involve Stakeholders from the Start
Layers of interviewers can isolate the candidate from your core team without adding significant knowledge about that person. Even worse, an extended process can drag out the final hiring decision. Sending a promising candidate through several preliminary steps with Human Resources (such as a telephone screening already performed by a third-party recruiter), delaying interviews, and responding slowly conveys a message of corporate disorganization or disinterest. The time lag allows your competition to slip in with an offer and leave you in the dust. We saw this happen recently when a firm interviewed a great candidate and then spent 10 days making a final decision. In the meantime, he interviewed with a rival company and was hired on the spot.
By involving key decision-makers from the start, you shorten the process and improve your odds of gaining a valuable team member.
Cross the Finish Line
In this job market, the race goes to the speedy—it’s a sprint, not a marathon. If a candidate brings solid experience, impresses stakeholders, and feels like a good corporate fit, don’t hesitate to go with your gut reaction. Make the job offer and bring that person onboard.
The steps may seem simple, but following these suggestions can make a big difference in your hiring successes. We’ve seen it happen. When you strategize before interviewing candidates, you’re in the best position to hire top talent in a challenging market.