By: Carrie Rossenfeld | Orange County
NEWPORT BEACH, CA—Today’s employees are more interested in compensation and benefits packages than in workplace amenities and perks, RETS Associates principal Kent Elliott tells GlobeSt.com exclusively. We spoke with Elliott about changes in the commercial real estate employment sector during 2015 and what candidates and hiring firms should remember going into the new year.
GlobeSt.com: What areas of employment within the real estate market do you foresee growing stronger in 2015?
Elliott: With the economy back, we have seen very robust hiring across the board in commercial real estate. However, the most recent senior-level searches (vice president and higher) that we’ve performed are primarily construction and development positions. Multifamily is still very hot. In fact, many of those construction and development positions have been with multifamily development firms. However, the demand for those positions is growing in the office and industrial sectors, too. We are still wrapping up several VP-level-or-higher searches in acquisitions. But this area is not as in demand as construction and development, where hiring is fast and in greater quantities than other real estate functions.
GlobeSt.com: What office amenities or employment perks will be most essential for hiring companies next year?
Elliott: Interestingly, amenities and employment perks are far less of a priority than actual compensation and benefits packages. Companies are opting to compete on compensation, rather than “chase” amenities or perks to which candidates will respond. That being said, there is a broad array of options that companies will offer to make themselves more attractive to a candidate, ranging from flex-time to creative-office space to reimbursement for the pursuit of higher education. For example, we are currently doing a search for a real estate private-equity firm in Silicon Valley that is not offering a competitive incentive package; however, the firm is offering a very competitive base package. If firms aren’t going to offer competitive packages, another employer will, and it is a candidate’s market.
GlobeSt.com: What should candidates remember as they are interviewing for positions in commercial real estate?
Elliott: When interviewing, candidates must strike a balance between confidence and humility. Though it may be a “candidate’s market,” interviewees still must show that they want the job by following up with a thank-you email or card, etc. Also, during an interview, candidates should focus on the type of culture that they prefer, emphasizing an ability to “work well with others.” These qualities may seem simple, but many candidates will not demonstrate that they are considerate of others, including an interviewer or another member of the employer’s staff, such as an HR manager or even the receptionist. These are the types of things that candidates must do to separate themselves from the competition.
GlobeSt.com: What other traits will make one candidate stand out among others when companies are hiring?
Elliott: Expanding from confidence and humility, the top quotients that we’re seeing when we speak anecdotally with the hiring managers are the following: hard worker, ability to strategically solve problems and add value to the company, and commitment. The hard-worker quality is self-explanatory. Problem-solving that adds value to the company, either through operational cost savings or creating new opportunities, is a key factor, and many candidates simply are not relating how they have been an asset to their prior employers. We frequently coach our candidates to relate how they strategically problem-solved a situation in their prior work, and that storytelling really separates a candidate. Lastly, commitment is an important quality. Employers are on the lookout for job-hoppers, and unless candidates have a really strong narrative about why they have recently job-hopped, it could be perceived as a risk. To be clear, it is OK for candidates to lift up their head every now and then to test the waters elsewhere; however, they must use discretion when doing so.