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Agency bosses urged to rethink how they attract staff amid talent shortage

The pool of candidates for jobs in the estate agency sector appears to be shrinking.

It comes after official figures showed overall job vacancies now exceed candidates for the first time.

Using the latest industry data from job listings websites Reed, property recruitment firm Rayner Personnel has crunched the numbers to see how this equates to the estate agency sector.

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It found that available job roles have remained fairly static with an average of 2,586 jobs being on offer each month this year as opposed to 2,463 per month in 2019 before the pandemic hit.

The big change in the property sector employment market has been a massive drop in candidates, the research suggests.

In 2019, there were typically 9,866 people looking for jobs in estate agency. 

Three years later there are just 4,780 job seekers registering per month. 

The big decline began in spring last year and accelerated throughout 2021.  

The number of job seekers is still shrinking month on month, according to Rayner Personnel.

Josh Rayner, chief executive of Rayner Personnel, suggested firms need to rethink how they attract staff.

He said: “We live in a world where if you want to find your future partner you just swipe left or right.

“If you want to buy a coffee you tap your phone and walk out 30 seconds later with a cup with your name on it.

“When it comes to attracting talent into our businesses, an incredible nine out of 10 potential candidates drop out because the application process was too lengthy or complicated.

“Organisations need to seriously rethink their approach to the candidate journey if they want to add the other 90% back into their funnels. 

“Not only this but with candidates being so scarce now and good ones even more so, employers would do well to look after their staff before they start to think about leaving - not once it’s too late. 

“If you see a great fit for your role, snap them up quickly because they are now demonstrably fewer and further between.”

It comes after recruitment consultancy Property Personnel highlighted this week that working from home is now top of the estate agency hiring agenda for recruits.

Anthony Hesse, managing director of Property Personnel warned that employers not prioritising this issue will fail to secure or retain the very best candidates.

Hesse points out that the issue is complicated, and is in danger of creating a ‘two tier’ workforce, divided between those who work from home and those who don’t.

He said: “There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach here. The wish to work from home is not evenly spread throughout the workforce. 

“New employees, graduates, anyone undergoing training is likely to value the social interaction of the office and will seize the opportunity to be part of a team, rather than enduring the dispiriting isolation of solo-working from a back bedroom.

“There’s also a division between those roles which can feasibly be carried out from a home environment, and those which can’t.

"In estate agency, managers and negotiators in sales and lettings departments are more likely to be needed at the office, apart from the times when they’re out and about on viewings and valuations.

“But for those in support roles, perhaps in property management, renewals, tenancy progression or administration, such as office co-ordinators, there is clearly much more scope to work from home.”

He warned that working from home can be disruptive, adding: “For example, if two days working from home are allowed each week, only some of the people will be able to get their first choice of doing so on a Monday and Friday. How will those days be allocated?

“Similarly, should working from home be specifically mentioned in contracts, or considered as an occasional extra? If it’s down to the line-manager to decide, there’s a danger that a sense of unfairness will start to build. So, managers will need to be well-versed in discrimination law, with every decision they make open to rigorous analysis.

“Those wishing to work from home will also need to take into account that employers may want to match their pay to their home location, which may well be cheaper.”

He said working from home is a massive magnet at the moment and employees will simply leave if they no longer think they are getting the best deal.

Hesse said: “Before the pandemic I would never have considered the prospect of my staff working from home. But now my office manager lives and works three counties away, and it works brilliantly.

“Within estate agency, the coronavirus pandemic merely sped up what was probably going to happen anyway. 

“Working from home is already part of the working landscape, so there’s no point anybody trying to fight it, hoping it will quietly go away. 

“Personally, I’m convinced it’s set to remain, in some form or other, permanently. Which is why it’s currently such a key issue in estate agency recruitment and employers ignore it at their peril.”

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