For young people the length and breadth of the UK, Thursday of this week meant that the waiting was over and their future plans started to become clearer.
A-level results can mean many things: joy; excitement; uncertainty; new beginnings and sometimes disappointment.
It’s also at this time of year that the media focuses on varying career options and what they offer to young people.
That got me thinking: what does it take to be an estate agent today?
I’ve been in the industry long enough to see it evolve and witness the impact that this has had on those we recruit.
We’ve moved from being a business that was once focused solely on face-to-face branch-based liaison and traditional print advertising, to one that now operates 24-7 in an online world – this clearly has some impact on those we employ.
What hasn’t changed, however, are the core attributes that are needed to succeed in estate agency.
Personality traits always have been, and remain, absolutely key. Strong communications skills are vital, as is possessing a genuine passion for property and the ability to consistently provide expertise and guidance that supports clients in achieving their dreams.
It would be naïve, however, to think that the advent of greater technology use in the industry hasn’t had some impact.
Of course, you need to be computer literate and comfortable working with the internet to work in estate agency. But it’s not just a case of us knowing our way around the web.
Technology enables our clients come to us far more educated than in the past. Face-to-face meetings can now occur much later than previously and when our clients do come to us, they do so having taken advantage of the wealth of information available online. They’re simply more knowledgeable of what they want and expect.
This is no bad thing but it doesn’t, however, detract from the fact that the skills required to match the right property to the right person and get our clients the best price, remain the same.
In spite of the role of technology in the overall process, when a client enters the branch they’re still looking for first-class service: a warm welcome, a considered adviser and above all else, a local market expert.
So, when attentions are turned on all things qualifications and careers, what have I concluded?
Well, even though estate agency operates in a vastly different way to how it did 10 or 15 years ago, it remains a career choice that demands so much more than specific paper qualifications.
What it demands is determination, tenacity and a competitive spirit. We’ll consider applicants with a raft of tertiary qualifications behind them, so long as they can demonstrate these personal attributes too.
But likewise, the Modern Apprenticeships programme is an attractive proposition to both recruits and employers alike. The increased flexibility in the way the sector now operates, meanwhile, opens up options for those looking for alternative shift patterns and flexible contracts allowing for greater balance between work and family life.
As an industry, therefore, we need to demonstrate that whether a candidate is starting off on their career path; has completed a period of extended study; or is simply at a juncture in their life whereby they feel they can contribute to and gain from a career in property, that with the right characteristics, attributes and attitudes life as an estate agent can be an incredibly rewarding career – as much today as it has ever been.
*Chris Chapman is Managing Director of Andrews Estate Agents