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Real Estate Elevator Pitches and Other Career Advice with Jenn Cook

Much of our content here at Adventures in CRE recently has been about career help and advice. This isn’t accidental. With the current pandemic, we’re doing our best to help A.CRE readers/listeners to enhance their career through this unusual time.

In this episode of the A.CRE Audio Series, we’re pleased to be joined by Jenn Cook, Corporate Recruiter and Learning & Development Manager at Crow Holdings. Jenn offers some of the most sound and timely advice for real estate job seekers that we’ve had on the series. In the conversation, Jenn, Michael, Spencer, and Sam discuss what it takes to stand out as a candidate, how to polish your personal elevator pitch, how to nail the interview, what questions to ask along the way, and much more.

We’re very grateful for Jenn’s willingness to share her knowledge with the A.CRE audience!

Real Estate Elevator Pitches and Other Career Advice with Jenn Cook

Watch as Spencer, Michael, Sam, and Jenn Cook discuss various career advice.

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Episode Transcript – Elevator Pitches and Other Career Advice

Announcer (00:01):

Welcome to the Adventures in CRE Audio Series. Join Michael Belasco and Spencer Burton as they pull back the curtain on everything commercial real estate, and introduce you to some of the top minds in the industry. If you want to take your skills to the next level and be part of a growing community of CRE professionals across the world, this is for you.

Sam Carlson (00:25):

All right. Hello and welcome back to the ACRE Audio Series. We’re excited to be back here today and especially excited to be here with our guest today, who is Jenn Cook. Jenn, thanks for coming aboard here.

Jenn Cook (00:37):

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Sam Carlson (00:39):

Yeah. We are excited to have you. We’ve got a great discussion lined up for you guys today. To get us started and to frame out the conversation, let’s kick it over to Spencer to see what we’re talking about today.

Spencer Burton (00:49):

Yeah. Sure. Again, Jenn, thanks so much for joining us. For those of you who don’t know her, Jenn Cook is a corporate recruiter and a learning and development manager at Crow Holdings. Crow … especially if you’re in Texas, Crow’s a household name, but for those outside of the region, Crow is a privately owned real estate investment and development firm. They have 16 regional offices across major U.S. markets, and they’re a staple in the real estate development world. Jenn, it’s really great to have you.

Spencer Burton (01:22):

Before I jump over to you with our first question, the other thing to mention about Jenn is she so well-rounded. A doctorate in education, by the way, spent time in counseling. She really understands human psychology and education. Being able to bring that education background to real estate, both as a recruiter, but also as someone who can help young professionals, either at Crow or elsewhere, develop their careers, I think is incredible skill set. Again, Jenn, thanks for joining.

Spencer Burton (02:00):

In terms of our discussion today, for those of us who are on the job-seeking side of this equation, what you do and what your colleagues do in going out and finding the right talent for the firms that you represent is somewhat of a secret, a black box to us. We’re hoping over the next 15/20 minutes, we could get some tips for ways that we can prepare ourselves to have those discussions with you, and to present ourselves in the best light.

Spencer Burton (02:35):

To prepare ourselves from an education and experience standpoint, in a way that will increase our chances of getting on amazing companies like the company that you’re at. I guess the first question for you, when you have a job that goes out to market and you get a hundred resumes, applications that come in, a thousand resumes or applications, what is it about certain applications or resumes that stand out that help those to float to the top of the pile?

Jenn Cook (03:07):

Absolutely. No, that’s a great, great question. You’re absolutely correct. There are some positions where we’re looking at hundreds and hundreds of resumes, and so trying to figure out what’s going to make someone stand out is crucial. One thing I’ll say is apply early. The people who get to the top of the pile, oftentimes are some of the first applicants. Don’t sit on a job posting because you want to make sure you’re submitting something that’s absolutely perfect. Absolutely, you want your materials to be polished.

Jenn Cook (03:33):

You want your resume to look great, but go ahead and get it in. If you see your dream company has posted a position that you’re really excited about, go ahead and get that in ASAP. The other thing with your resume is I’ll tell you when I’m trying to go through applications, I try to be as thoughtful as possible and making sure that I’m giving every resume a minute to look through everything and see what content is on there, what stands out to me. You want to make sure that your content is described in a way that’s very eye-catching.

Jenn Cook (04:02):

Not being excessively wordy, not including multiple paragraphs summarizing you at the beginning. I want to get to the meat of your experience ASAP. Having your most relevant job descriptions really at the top of your resume, highlighting those things you want me to take away. Having those at the top is incredibly helpful, and will almost certainly ensure I’m going to continue to read, and I’m not going to quickly pass on for another application.

Jenn Cook (04:26):

The other thing I would say is if you’re really excited about a company, do your research and go ahead and reach out to some people within the organization. That’s not to say email the recruiter 10 times, or reach out to every single person in the company. Be thoughtful about how you want to start developing those relationships. Some of the people who stood out most to us in the past, they were intentional about seeking out people who were on that team that was hiring for that position and just trying to have that informational interview with them.

Jenn Cook (04:56):

Asking them a little bit more about the team, asking them a little bit more, expressing your interest in the position and really trying to build that relationship. Because I think it shows that genuine interest and not just saying, “I’m throwing my name in the hat along with 50 other job postings.”

Michael Belasco (05:13):

Just to add to that on the first exposure you get to a candidate and having them pursue people on a team potentially for a job that they want. How does that get conveyed to you? Is that through a cover letter? To a bigger question, how important is the cover letter to the resume application process? Do you really review it and read it? That’s a big question we had.

Jenn Cook (05:36):

That’s a great question. I will say, so for some job postings you may require a cover letter. Others may not. If a cover letter is optional, I always advise people do it, and that’s because you never know who’s reading your materials, right? It may be a team of people at the company, it may be one person. I really like the cover letter because I think that it could convey just different parts of your character. It tells your story a little bit better. I think your resume is more data-focused, right? You’re really focusing on, how have I added value to the company?

Jenn Cook (06:05):

Have I brought in new clients? Have I brought in more capital? How have I really benefited the company that I was part of? Then I think your cover letter is also weaving that in with your genuine interest in the position, your excitement to be part of that company and the industry that they’re in. Not every job needs a cover letter. It really just depends on the role itself. I think if there’s an option, it’s always helpful to do so.

Michael Belasco (06:31):


Jenn Cook (06:33):

To speak to your other question about how you’re reaching out to those people and how that’s conveyed, if you have had a relationship with someone in the company, always include that in your cover letter. If you have a long-standing relationship with someone, or maybe you met me at a career fair and we had a great conversation, and that’s how you learned about the position, it’s a good reminder, right? If I’m reading on here that this person spoke to so-and-so, who’s in leadership, if I like that person’s resume, I’m going to go directly to that person in leadership and say, “Hey, it seems that you talked to Michael. What was your impression of Michael? Do you think he might be a good fit for this role?”

Sam Carlson (07:09):

It seems to me, I mean, like with any piece of … We’re talking about getting a job, but the beginning of any relationship starts with attention, right? Because you said it yourself, when you look at a resume, there’s a lot of objective data there, right? If you’re comparing two, they might be very similar. I’m sure in fact, you have minimum qualifications for these job postings most of the time and so you’re looking at a lot of the same thing. There’s got to be something that grabs that attention.

Sam Carlson (07:41):

Is that usually … And I guess I’ll put this … You’ve said, tell why you’re interested. Is it mostly that or maybe it’s, what do I think this company is really hiring? What kind of outcome and results are they looking for? Then how can I convey quickly that that’s me? That I’m a fit for that. Not only do I love that, it’s my personality, but I can provide the result you’re looking for. Is that a tactic, a strategy that people use?

Jenn Cook (08:11):

Yes. That’s exactly right. I always tell people, when you’re looking at how you’re structuring your resume especially, you should almost be able to draw an invisible line between the job description and the information that’s on your resume. You don’t want to copy verbatim. You don’t want to make it sound like you’re just regurgitating the job description in your resume. If I say in the job description, “I’m looking for someone who has utilized this skill.” I need to see on your resume, how you have utilized that skill.

Jenn Cook (08:38):

Not just that you know how to use that software, but how have you used it to drive results, right? Be very result-oriented and quantify and qualify wherever you can on your resume. Being vague and philosophical, and … When people say, “I’m detail-oriented, I’m a team player.” That doesn’t really tell me anything. I need to know from the content in your resume. I need to know from the results you’ve driven and the impact that you’ve made in these various projects with your employer, that you’ve actually done that. That’s going to speak way more to that.

Jenn Cook (09:11):

Then when I’m looking … Because I know the job description well, right? I probably wrote it. If I’m reading your resume, I should think, “Wow, this sounds exactly like what is in that job description.” That’s going to say, “Okay. This resume needs a second look. I’m going to put this over here in this pile.” These are probably people that are going to get asked for a phone interview first.

Sam Carlson (09:32):

I’m curious, and you said there’s a couple of things that people … Whether they’re vague or whatever, what are some of the things that people do wrong? What are some [crosstalk 00:09:40] not to focus on, but what are some definite no-no? Some things that you see that are very common that people just need to stop doing so they don’t get put to the bottom of the pile.

Jenn Cook (09:53):

Right. Right. There’s a few things. I’ll say with resume and cover letter, this sounds very, very simple, but make sure that you proofread and make sure that you have somebody else who’s not you also proofread. We all have read our resume a million times. I know every time I go back through my own, I always find something that I should edit. Have another set of eyes, preferably someone with industry experience, who is reading your resume with a fine-tooth comb. If something is misspelled and this role requires attention to detail, automatically done.

Jenn Cook (10:22):

If you are writing an email to me and it’s poorly worded, my name is incorrect, things like that are automatically going to make me think that you’re not necessarily taking the role as seriously as you should. That’s something to be mindful of. Then I will say it’s just being thoughtful also in your interview process about making sure that you have researched the company well. If I’m having an interview with you and you’re asking me very basic questions that can be answered by just reading our website or people ask me to tell them more about the role and they ask something that’s in the job description itself, then that can also be challenging.

Jenn Cook (11:02):

We can speak more to the interview process in a minute. I think there’s a lot of different components with it, but throughout the entire thing, I think your resume, your cover letter, your interview process, all of that, we want to show that continuity. That continuity in terms of being polished, of being professional, of being comprehensive with a comprehensive overview of your experience, and just making sure that it’s tailored to the role. You should never be submitting the same resume to every single job that you’re applying for.

Jenn Cook (11:34):

You should always customize it to every single one. Even if you’re applying to, let’s say a hundred investment analyst positions, I guarantee you, my company is different than the next company you’re applying to. We want to make sure, even if it’s just reversing bullet points, that you’re just drawing attention to different things because that’s going to be more critical for the role.

Michael Belasco (11:53):


Spencer Burton (11:55):

Yes. I’m sorry, Mike. Go ahead.

Michael Belasco (11:56):

I was going to say quantifying every piece of information on your resume and making sure … I just want to repeat these because these were constant. Making sure you’re quantifying everything. Then tailoring your resume. Every time Spencer and I get on calls with universities, I always say, “When I was in grad school, I had 10 different resumes.” Every time I applied to a company, it’s a slight tweak. I’m just really happy to hear you on the other side say that and just repeat that. Quantification and customization of the resume.

Jenn Cook (12:29):


Michael Belasco (12:29):

Sorry. Spencer.

Spencer Burton (12:30):

Yeah. Yeah. There are the things that the employer asks us to submit. Resume, cover letter, maybe an application that we fill out, but I’m curious, for you and also your colleagues in the industry, not just at the firm you’re at, what other things, if any, are you looking at? I’m thinking the LinkedIn page. A lot of us put a lot of time into our LinkedIn page. A lot of us are concerned about what comes up if you google our name. I don’t mean in nefarious things, but there’s other people with our name that … In fact, there was a Spencer Burton who was a criminal like 10 years ago.

Spencer Burton (13:11):

I mean, today, when you google Spencer Burton, he was one of the top. That was something that you worry about an employer who’s looking through, they just quickly google and is like, “Oh, I can’t take the chance that this is the same person.” Just curious, what other things are you looking at independent of just the standard items that we should be aware of and we should be curating and preparing for employers to be looking at?

Jenn Cook (13:36):

Absolutely. Well, I think, one, you mentioned LinkedIn, it’s definitely very valuable. I love to see when people include their LinkedIn URL in part of their header for their resume, because if I want to learn more information, or to your point, if you have a very common name and there’s maybe other people who have similar name … I know my name is pretty common now and so I know that if you look up Jenn Cook, there’s going to be thousands of them. If I have my LinkedIn URL there, you know exactly who you’re talking to and really more about my experience.

Jenn Cook (14:05):

I think that’s also helpful because your resume should be a snapshot of your most recent relevant experience. It should not be every single thing that you’ve done since you were in college. If I want to learn more about your background, maybe something that you wouldn’t have included on your resume, I can go to your LinkedIn and I can pull that from there. I think that’s one really important part. To your point about Googling, I mean, I will say it’s very common for employers to Google you during the process, just to make sure nothing unwieldy pops up.

Jenn Cook (14:35):

That’s where I think it’s helpful, especially for people who are college students who are looking to get hired, making sure that your social media is appropriate. If I see very, very different images when I Google your name between your LinkedIn and what pops up on your Facebook or something like that, that’s definitely going to be a red flag in terms of just being professional. I think just making sure that the image that you’re putting out, I always tell people, you never know who you’re going to meet. You never know who you’re going to run into.

Jenn Cook (15:02):

You want to make sure that the image that you’re putting out there, whether it’s personal or professional is still someone that you would be proud to represent yourself.

Sam Carlson (15:10):

Yes. That’s excellent advice. I want to go down the funnel here and go to the next step of this process because … And I should probably frame this by saying how it is that you came to be here today. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been doing a lot of mock interviews with these different universities and they’ve been fantastic. They’ve been so fun. Well, they’ve been really fun, first of all, but we’ve gotten so much feedback from the students about how much they learned and what it was like to actually go through the repetition, the process that we did in those mock interviews.

Sam Carlson (15:49):

Your name was one of the names that was just a standout interviewer and a person that really brought a lot of value there. I know that I had a chance to come in and listen to some of the things you were doing. I want to transition, and for any listeners, let them understand, what you’re about to hear, what I hope we can … what Spencer, Michael and I are able to pull out of you is just all of the cool things that you can really do to set yourself up you so stand out in the interview process. One is obviously we have the resume. That’s a big part, right?

Sam Carlson (16:25):

You don’t get the interview if you can’t get past that [inaudible 00:16:31]. Maybe we could start with just a big idea as far as your overall advice for the interview process. Then maybe Spencer, Michael, and myself will be able to pull little things out and just see if we can pull some of that mock interview magic out of you, Jenn.

Jenn Cook (16:46):

Sure. Absolutely. The interview, I mean, oh my goodness, one, nowadays there are so many different types of interviews, right? I think with the 2020, with the situation we’re in, most of us are at least starting those interviews virtually via phone or video. I think with … Just the nature of the job market is very competitive right now I think more than ever. We want to make sure that people are putting their best foot forward in an interview, so much of it just generally is speaking. I’ll say, make sure that you are preparing for this interview.

Jenn Cook (17:19):

Make sure that you’re doing your research. It is amazing how many people will walk into an interview and they’ve never even looked at the company’s website. They have not read the job description. They probably haven’t done an interview in a while. That’s very apparent from the first couple of minutes of the conversation. So much too, especially if you’re having a phone interview, first is making sure that your tone and your body language, if it’s a video interview, are conveying the excitement to just be having that conversation.

Jenn Cook (17:51):

I’ve talked to people who have decades of experience. They have multiple degrees. They have worked at outstanding organizations and their resume jumps off the page at me. Then when I’m talking to them, maybe it might not be very … It’s little flat. I don’t hear that excitement. I don’t hear, “I’m really excited for this opportunity. I’m genuinely excited about the opportunity to be at your organization for X, Y and Z reasons.” That enthusiasm goes a long way.

Jenn Cook (18:21):

It tells us that not only are you the kind of person who’s well-prepared to execute the responsibilities of this role, but you’re also someone who I genuinely would enjoy sitting next to and talking with and working with on a project. That tells us, especially for a phone interview, that’s largely about cultural fit. That tells me right away if that’s the kind of person who would be a good fit for the organization.

Michael Belasco (18:48):

Yeah. That’s awesome.

Sam Carlson (18:50):

Michael, I think you have a question, but I have one quick question.

Michael Belasco (18:52):

Go for it.

Sam Carlson (18:54):

Something that we saw a lot in these mock interviews. It seems like there’s this gap, there’s this window, right? Maybe it’s the first two minutes to where you have the interviewer and then you have the interviewee and some people really mess up that first two minutes.

Jenn Cook (19:11):


Sam Carlson (19:14):

Whether that’s they don’t know what to do, maybe they’re supposed to be enthusiastic, but they’re over-enthusiastic.

Jenn Cook (19:21):

That’s also possible.

Sam Carlson (19:23):

Right? As you were saying that, I was just thinking back to some of the interviews that I was watching. What is your advice? Just to get things going in your favor, what can a person who is being interviewed, what can they do in that first minute or two?

Jenn Cook (19:41):

Yes. That’s a really great question. You’re absolutely right. I think people can start an interview and it’s not going the right direction and then unfortunately just we’re automatically a little bit less engaged in the conversation. I think one of the things you can do to really help that is make sure you have a polished elevator pitch. Some people make the mistake of going off a little too far and talking for 10 minutes about everything they’ve done. What I want to know during that first, it should be something that’s concise.

Jenn Cook (20:10):

It should be a minute or two minutes tops, of really who you are. Basically, why are you here today? Why are you excited about this role? Then, what are your most recent relevant experiences that are directly applicable? Then from there I’m going to guide the conversation and say, “Well, tell me a little bit more about your position at this company, or, your job responsibilities look really interesting here. Tell me how those might transfer to this position.”

Jenn Cook (20:36):

Just giving me a quick snapshot is engaging. It tells me why you’re here, but then it also gives me a little bit more info maybe than I would glean from your resume and I’m able to frame my questions from there.

Sam Carlson (20:51):

Yeah. That’s awesome. I love that.

Michael Belasco (20:53):


Sam Carlson (20:54):

Go ahead, Michael.

Michael Belasco (20:55):

Yeah. In the spirit of people preparing, I want to … and to what Spencer had said in the intro, to call it peeking behind the veil a little bit and getting a little bit of insight. I guess, how formulaic are these interviews for you? Is it very subjective? Do you guys have a criteria you follow? When you’re in an interview process, are you taking notes, checking boxes? Is there something you follow? Is it very just subjective in feel, and then based on resume? How does the process work?

Michael Belasco (21:31):

Maybe that’s a little too much. You can’t give all. I’m just curious, how structured is that or how subjective is that when you get off the phone when you’re having these interviews?

Jenn Cook (21:40):

Sure. Sure. For a first-round interview, I think there are some pieces I’m always trying to understand a little bit more. I want to figure out exactly how relatable is their experience to what the job is looking for. I do always ask them to tell me a little bit about their experience as it relates to this role. If there’s a technical skillset that we’re looking for, or when I talk to the hiring managers, I always ask them, “What’s the deal breaker here? What does this person have to have? Then what are the nice-to-haves?” Because if this is a have-to-have, it doesn’t matter how polished they are, it doesn’t matter how great they are.

Jenn Cook (22:14):

If they don’t have this skill set, we can’t hire them for this role. I want to discern that. If they absolutely have to have proficiency in Excel, for example, or if they have to have proficiency in ARGUS, I need to ask those skill-level questions to understand their level in that regard. Then I typically have … In a phone interview, I will ask them a little bit about what kind of compensation range they’re targeting for the role as well, just to make sure that’s in line with what our hiring manager was thinking for this position as well.

Jenn Cook (22:48):

Those are a couple, but then outside of that, I really don’t try to structure it too much. A lot of it is just based off of what they tell me. I may have follow-up questions. Maybe they say something about a project they’re working on, and I really want to hear a lot more about it, or if they are not quite as forthcoming and I don’t get a lot of information, I may ask them some specifics about strengths and weaknesses and things like that.

Jenn Cook (23:12):

When it gets to a further round interview, those are going to I think be very subjective just depending on the hiring manager or what they’re looking for in the position, and then any next steps from there.

Michael Belasco (23:25):

Got it. You mentioned a question that I think is always challenging for people to answer. Compensation. When you ask that upfront, how do people prepare for that question and how would you guide them to an answer along the way? What should they say or how should they prepare for that answer?

Jenn Cook (23:44):

Sure. Absolutely. I would say the best way to prepare for any question about compensation is to make sure that you do your research. Making sure that the compensation that you’re asking for is market, that it’s competitive within market. That you’ve looked at what are you seeing other similar roles are offering at different organizations, things like that. Then also compare that with your experience, because sometimes people might say, “Well, if I have this degree or this level of education, then I should automatically be allotted this much.” Et cetera.

Jenn Cook (24:22):

Make sure that if you’re asking for that compensation level, we’re assuming then that, that education level is required for that job description. Because some employers may be willing to pay more for a higher degree or for others it may be about more direct experience in that position. Others, it could be a combination of the two. I think just doing your research and then just being just prepared to answer that question. I don’t want people to feel that they’re nailed down to that specific answer. I understand there’s fluctuation.

Jenn Cook (24:56):

If you’re applying for a job that’s in a different market than you’re in currently, it’s not always comparable, but I think just having done enough research that you can give a general range is comfortable from there.

Spencer Burton (25:12):

As an interviewee, we’re often asked a question at the end of the interview, do you have any questions for me? All right? It’s a bit of a red herring. There’s all sorts of advice online, like what are the right answers. In your view, what are the sorts of questions that interviewees should come back to you with?

Jenn Cook (25:37):

Yeah. Absolutely. There are a couple of things with this. One, I’ll say, make sure you always ask questions. One of the biggest red flags that goes up for me, personally, is if people say they don’t have questions. I think that that would convey that you have complete mastery level understanding of the job, of the company. I just don’t think that that’s accurate for anybody. I think there’s always things that you should want to know. Understand that if you’re talking to the recruiter, I’m going to have a lot of insight into the role, but I’m also not going to be the expert on that day-to-day responsibility, that nitty-gritty of the position that the hiring manager would.

Jenn Cook (26:15):

I think preparing some of those questions is helpful, but understand that they may not be all questions that I can answer at this point. I think understanding, asking about some of the maybe projects that the team is working on, the priorities of the team, what they see is some of the biggest priorities in the coming quarter or the coming fiscal year, et cetera. Maybe asking a little bit more about the team structure, if that’s not something that’s available online, where you can’t necessarily tell, so how is the team structured? How are some of those responsibilities distributed? Things like that.

Jenn Cook (26:52):

I think also just asking what are some of the … especially if you’re talking to the hiring manager, asking what are some of the ways that you see success measured and accomplished in this role within the first 90 days, within the first six months, within the first year, so that I can understand how my performance as an applicant would be evaluated in that position. Definitely make sure that you’re not asking questions that can be found online.

Spencer Burton (27:20):


Sam Carlson (27:23):

That’s a perfect segue because I have one more question on what you had talked about. I think this is a missed opportunity for a lot of people. When you ask a question, and I’m going to ask you, I’ll prep you a little bit, if you could give us a scenario, an example where it might be appropriate. You had said asking the right questions will demonstrate that you understand something. I think that’s a really … I feel like … I heard you say that I’m like, “Oh, we can’t just glance over that.” Because that right there is a huge opportunity for you to say, “Hey, I know your problem and I can solve it for you.”

Sam Carlson (28:01):

When people tend to respond to a question and then follow it up with, “Hey, this is what they’re implying.” And ask more questions about that, I think that really demonstrates that you have a dynamic understanding of that. I prepped you a little bit. Is there a scenario or an example that you could share where that really stood out to you?

Jenn Cook (28:24):

Absolutely. I think where I’ve heard really good questions and follow-up conversations have happened is when someone asks, similar to what I mentioned, of maybe I’m looking at the job description and maybe I want to understand how a particular responsibility plays out amongst the team. Then I’m able to answer that question for them. Then in response, they almost echo that and they tell me how their experience matches that. Yes. I’ve done something similar in my current team.

Jenn Cook (28:55):

I’ve actually done the X, Y, and Z for this project and utilized this job responsibility. It’s a good way to talk in additional information about the applicant, something you want people to really know about you in the interview, while also getting your question answered that I’m able to provide more insight on.

Spencer Burton (29:13):

What I’m hearing both from the pre-interview, resume, LinkedIn, cover letter and for the resume, is it’s about demonstrating genuine interest and fit. There’s a lot that goes into that. What about the post-interview? Right?

Jenn Cook (29:29):


Spencer Burton (29:31):

How can we wrap it up in a nice bow and complete the entire cycle? What are some tips? I mean, we all hear the send a thank you and all that. If it’s just simply a thank you, how should the thank you be crafted and are there other things as well that that can really seal the deal post-interview?

Jenn Cook (29:57):

Sure. I think a thank you note … I know people sometimes want to roll their eyes at that because they think, “Well, of course I can do that.” Or like, “Oh, is that really necessary?” I think people tend to fall into those two camps, but I think a thank you note, I mean, at the end of the day, this person is taking the time out of their day to interview you for this position. They’re obviously busy doing a lot of different things and so I think thanking them genuinely for the time to speak with you is great.

Jenn Cook (30:24):

With thank you notes, especially if you’re writing them to multiple people, one, don’t send a mass thank you note. If you interviewed with five people, don’t send one email addressed to five people. Customize them. If I talk to you, Spencer, about something in particular and you Michael, about something different, I want to customize that. With Spencer, I really appreciate you sharing your perspective on your time at the company and how you’re able to do this and this. Because that’s going to put me fresh in your memory.

Jenn Cook (30:52):

You’re going to remember, “Oh right. I did have that conversation with Jenn. That was a great conversation.” It really says that I’m not just copying and pasting this from one email to the other, but I’m truly being thoughtful and I really did enjoy the conversation that I had with you. I think that can go a long way, making sure that you’re getting business cards or looking at email addresses for people so that you have that information and you’re prepared to do so in a timely manner. Then I think it’s appropriate to follow up.

Jenn Cook (31:19):

I always ask … I think candidates it’s great if you ask about the timeline for the role, especially if I don’t mention that explicitly. Just so that can set their expectations, because if I said that we’re still in first-round interviews and you’ll hear more information in the next couple of weeks. If I get a follow-up email two days later that shows me that maybe they weren’t listening to the timeline and it might push that email aside a little bit, because we’re still in the midst of those first-round interviews.

Jenn Cook (31:49):

I think being thoughtful and marking down whatever timeline I mentioned, and then following up during that period is helpful. I’ve had some candidates do that really successfully where I actually was thinking of them and then their email popped up and I was getting ready to send them a notice for our next round phone interview. So it was actually very helpful and timely. I think [inaudible 00:32:08] that is great. I would steer clear of doing things like sending lists of references or sending business plans you’ve written and things you’ve done unless they’ve been explicitly asked for.

Jenn Cook (32:21):

Sometimes that is the case, and that information can be helpful if we’re looking for it. If not, it can get lost with a lot of application materials. It may not always be necessary.

Michael Belasco (32:34):

Just to follow up that, have there ever been thank-yous that have gone wrong? Like you overdo it. You send a letter, you send chocolates or you send whatever it is. Has that ever happened and is that … How do you-

Jenn Cook (32:46):

Wow. That’s a good question.

Michael Belasco (32:49):

I’m curious, because you really want to make a good impression and people may overdo it. They buy Papyrus and whatever they do and they write these letter. I’m curious. People really want to make an impression. I’m curious your thoughts on that.

Jenn Cook (33:01):

I think I’ve seen a little overkill like people sending me letters of recommendation people have written for them and things like that. I’m like, “At this point it’s not necessary.” If we are checking your references, it’s because we’re at the final stages of a process, and then we’re going to call the people that are on your reference list. You’ll fill that out when you fill out an application. Et cetera. We don’t really need all of that additional information. I think if it’s bombarding the recruiter with all that info, that may not be very helpful, but I think just a genuine thank you note.

Jenn Cook (33:30):

I do tend to forward those on to the hiring manager and just let them know that this person has been really thoughtful and how much I appreciate my conversation. In fact, I will often forward that and include my notes from the interview just say, “By the way, I really enjoyed my conversation with Michael. Here are the big takeaways.” Then he can see Michael’s message underneath there. I think just being thoughtful about that and, like I said, making sure that you customize it to the individual that you’re speaking with.

Sam Carlson (33:55):

Yeah. Okay. Jenn, we’re getting to the end of the podcast here, but we are at the end of a crazy year. 2020 has been a little nuts, okay? For a lot of different reasons. What are some timely advice for anybody on the job search or anything that you would recommend people do if they’re looking to get that next job?

Jenn Cook (34:18):

Absolutely. One big thing is take some time, make sure that your resume, all your job materials are completely up to date. It’s very common for people to get in the midst of a job and you’re doing all these things, all these projects, all this great work, but you’re not keeping track of it. By the time it comes to update your resume, you’ve almost forgotten half the things that you’re doing on a regular basis. I think just keeping an unofficial log for yourself of some of those great takeaways, those big wins for you.

Jenn Cook (34:45):

Then making sure that you’re updating your resume, your master cover letter, your LinkedIn profile, and keeping all those things up to date. The other thing is building relationships. You can never have too many contacts. You can’t build your network too much, even if you’re very, very happy with the company that you’re at, continue to build relationships within that company. I guarantee you, you don’t have the best relationship with every single person in your organization. Set up time, whether it’s a Zoom call or a coffee date or whatever that needs to be to build those relationships.

Jenn Cook (35:19):

If you’re looking outside of your organization, then start to do those informational interviews. Those informational interviews are just conversation. Sam, I’d love to learn a little bit more about your role at this organization. I’m looking to transition my career into that. Would you have time for a quick phone call? I’d love to learn more about your professional background. Those conversations over time can help build those relationships that turn into really crucial contacts when you’re actually applying for a role at their company.

Jenn Cook (35:50):

I would say the combination of those is really, really helpful and will hopefully position people well, as they’re looking to pivot to a new role or to a new company or industry.

Sam Carlson (36:01):

Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, this has been absolutely phenomenal, Jenn. Just like the mock interview, you wowed us. It was great.

Spencer Burton (36:10):


Sam Carlson (36:11):

Yeah. I think everyone listening has gotten tons of value. Thank you for doing this, and for the listeners, you can go over to the website and look at the podcast. There’s a write-up, as far as the notes and articles. You can look for podcasts. We’ve got it right up there. Then for anybody watching, you can go there too and we’ll see on the next episode.

Announcer (36:31):

Thanks for tuning into this episode of the Adventures in CRE Audio Series. For show notes and additional resources, head over to www.adventuresincre.com/audioseries. Would you like to learn real estate financial modeling in a matter of weeks and do it with zero guesswork? If so, the ACRE Accelerator is for you. The accelerator is a step-by-step case-based program designed to teach you exactly what you need to know and in the order you need to know it. So you can gain both the knowledge and experience to take your career to the next level. To see if the accelerator is right for you, go to www.adventuresincre.com/accelerator.