A leading industry recruitment expert says our industry is facing its worst personnel shortage in a generation.
Anthony Hesse, managing director of agency recruitment consultancy Property Personnel, says three proposals need to be enacted to raise standards and attract new people to into the sector.
“We have to recognise that estate agency is currently experiencing the worst staff shortages in a generation. Finding new personnel is difficult because there are not as many people applying for jobs in the sector as there used to be. We desperately need to find a way not only to retain the talent we have, but also to bring staff into the profession who have never even considered estate agency before” he says.
Hesse believed companies need to be more open minded about recruiting trainees from outside the industry.
“However attractive it may appear to be to employ only those with sector experience, you are in danger of excluding those with excellent potential and transferable skills from other professions” explains Hesse.
“Just because they haven’t been an estate agent before doesn’t mean they don’t have the makings of an excellent one in the future. So you should widen your search, to bring these people into focus for the first time.”
In addition, he says agency firms need to show staff a clear career path.
“It’s so easy to fall into the trap of recruiting for the moment. But the best employees will be asking themselves what their working life will be like in two, five, even 10 years’ time. So in order to secure their interest, you should outline how you will help recruits develop and realise their potential. This makes sound commercial sense too - as the saying goes, ‘If you want to grow your business, you need to grow your people’.”
Hesse has a further demand of the industry too - that is, to improve working conditions for agents.
“You should pay your staff what they are worth, not what you think you can get away with. That means recognising and rewarding your high achievers accordingly. But it’s also about the work/life balance – and expecting your staff to work excessively long hours and every Saturday will not only hinder your recruitment, but also make it harder to retain your top talent. Get it wrong, and they’ll walk.”
Hesse says that whilst he recognises estate agency is a service industry, agents need to adapt to current requirements rather than basing their decisions on what used to happen in the past.
He continues: “Good candidates will come away from their interviews with three or four job offers. In days gone by, potential employees seemed to be most persuaded by the type of company car on offer. That no longer seems to be so important any more.
“So if you want to recruit the top people in today’s market, you need to provide them with the support, development, salary and work/life balance that will persuade them that yours is the sort of estate agency they not only want to work for, but also to remain in for some time to come.”