In this executive Q&A, Kent Elliott, principal at RETS Associates, a leading national real estate recruiting firm, shares the top three tips for executing a search process that helps ensure a firm hires the right candidate to support sustained and long-term growth. Patrick McGinley, president of management services at Vestar, shares his experiences in following these guidelines during a recent search for a VP of property management.
Vestar is a Phoenix-based leader in management, acquisition and development of retail space with more than 26 million square feet currently under operation and management across the West and Southwest.
Kent Elliott’s Tip #1: When beginning the search process, assess the entire talent pool – not just the candidates who apply to a job opening.
Pat McGinley (PM): We view each hiring opportunity as just that – an opportunity to build our team’s knowledge base and skills through the best practices that new talent introduces. When assessing an opening, we also aim to hire team members who will be with us for the long-term, and hopefully through retirement. We take our brand and our reputation seriously, which is why we engaged RETS to help us identify and qualify every possible candidate in the region. By following the first step in RETS’ process and evaluating all possible options, we were able to ensure that we identified and hired the best possible candidate who fit our culture and desired skillset.
Vestar needed a leader who could bridge the role of property manager with operations and services to increase value for our clients across all the properties we manage. We sought a seasoned expert with a proven track record of effectively steering client relationships – from knowing the right questions to ask and what needs to anticipate, to always going the extra yard with client service. This was a very important search for us, and we would not have found the right person without RETS’ support in expanding our search parameters.
Elliott’s Tip #2: Don’t skip over talent just because you have a current or past relationship with them.
PM: We saw a need for new role in our Phoenix office because our institutional clients are ramping up activity with a focus on driving NOI. We have a large presence in the Phoenix region and a vast network in the industry, and knew that we needed a methodical process that evaluated all candidates, known and unknown, to ensure we found the right fit. We were in search of a property management expert who could bolster and support the other team members, including individual property managers and our VP of operations to ensure that clients receive excellent service. We aim to operate efficiently and effectively to help our clients achieve their business goals.
RETS unearthed a number of candidates who we weren’t familiar with, yet as a result, we ended up selecting a former Vestar employee who over the course of several years and other experiences had grown into exactly what we were looking for. He worked for us in 2008 and since then, has gained more market knowledge and experience, and became a fantastic leader. It’s very easy to have a preconceived opinion of someone, especially a former employee, and make decisions based on those notions. To avoid this pitfall and ensure we were making the right choice (not the easy choice), we knew it would be necessary to leverage a recruiter and their non-biased opinion.
Elliott’s Tip #3: Be aware of the current state of the hiring market, and have a succession plan.
PM: We want our employees to be with us through to retirement. Therefore, we approached this search with the future of both the candidate and Vestar in mind. As a company, our goals are to increase client touch points to help us grow with our existing relationships provide new growth opportunities to our team, and empower a business development person to drive continued growth. Through this hiring process, we selected a VP who not only meets our current needs, but future needs, as well.
The market has greatly tightened over the last 18 months. Gone are the days where real estate professionals are job hopping in search of new opportunities or better compensation. As senior and executive management begins to retire, it’s the VPs that we hire today who will become the future leadership of the firm.