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What makes for a bad real estate job candidate?

Just a bit of context regarding the titlethis does not mean you are a bad candidate! This uncovers what makes you the wrong candidate for a specific role. As your track record improves, the probability that you will be more attractive to employers grows.

I was speaking to a top employer recently about candidates. He asked me, “Tucker, what are the reasons these candidates are not a good fit.” I was caught off guard, great question! After thinking about it for a moment, we boiled it down to 3 reasons why real estate candidates are not attractive for a specific role.

#1: Lack of Sophistication

Keeping the context of my conversation in mind, this hiring manager’s firm is doing business in the $100M+ range. Say you are a candidate that is interested in this job, but your deal experience ranges from $0 – $1M deals. You will not be an attractive candidate to the employer. There is less sophistication in the modeling, financing, borrowers, types of risk, legal forms, partnerships, etc….

If you are in the job market and want a higher probability of finding a job, my recommendation is to not go from 0 to 100!

Work your way up patiently.

For those that don’t know, at night I am a swim coach and coach our top group. When a swimmer comes to me and thinks they are ready to move up, I see if their technique is proper, if they can make the intervals on the time allotted, and if they are in shape enough to do that consistently. It is the same with evolving into new roles within the real estate business.

Be patient. Grow into the role by working hard where you are now, with a mindset and end goal of working on bigger deals, with more sophistication. If you are currently evaluating $0 – $1M deals, go into a job that is dealing with $1M – $5M, or $5m-$25. Build up the necessary deal experience and meet new contacts who play in the more sophisticated space. Eventually, you’ll find your way into that $100m+ space if you can show the employers a proven track record of being successful at each level.

I have also seen people like yourself enroll in Top Tier MBA Programs. That will automatically help you get to that next level, as those more sophisticated firms recruit directly from those grad schools.

If you want to find a list of those kinds of schools, visit our University Deep Dive section.

#2: Job Hoppers

The real estate business is small enough where if you do great work over a long period of time you will rise above the crowd. Opportunities will now seek you. Be it headhunters, internal talent acquisition professionals, or friends, people will reach out to you asking if there is any interest in joining their company. But when an employer or headhunter looks at your resume and sees that you have 4 different jobs in 6 years, that does not look good.

Let me start by talking about your first 3 years out of college. It is okay for you to move jobs if your current one does not suit your liking, or you are not growing at the rate you had hoped. Don’t be afraid to leave your current job and find a new one – I recommend it. Additionally, don’t stay in a position that puts a limit on your potential. By quitting and moving on sooner rather than later, you are doing yourself and your employer a favor. If you have graduated within the last 0 – 24 months, make sure you are at a company that is giving you deal seasoning, the opportunity to meet new people, training, trust, and a path forward.

If you are still in college, refer to my last blog post about how to evaluate this decision and have a higher probability of getting it right.

When companies are evaluating candidates with 4+ years of experience, and they see you have not been with a company for 2-3+ years, this shows a couple of important things to be aware of:

    1. Inability to stick with a job
    2. No loyalty

There is only so much work you can accomplish in a 2 – 3 year span of time. There is only so much trust you can build with your team in a 2 – 3 year span of time. When you’ve spent 4+ years working with a company, you’ve seen changes happen, promotions, firings, and strategy and culture shifts. You’ve proven you are not caught up in the proverbial thinking that “the grass is greener on the other side.”

I always relate it back to Tom Brady. Companies want to hire the Tom Brady’s of the world. Tom is someone who has a track record of sticking with his “company” for nearly 20 years. Tom started from the bottom of the Patriots organization as the 199th draft pick and left them with 6 Super Bowl Championships. Every team wanted to hire him! The team that ended up doing so later won the Super Bowl that same year! Companies are looking for candidates who take ownership of their work, find ways to add value, and have proven track records in their current jobs!

Not sure where to start with your job search? Download our Commercial Real Estate Company Database Tool to browse over 2,000 real estate companies, filter by Location, Company Type, Job Function, and Property Type, and create a target list of companies for your job search.

#3: Inability to Communicate

Great, you’ve made it past the resume screening. Now companies want to dive deeper in the interview process with you, be it setting up an initial 30- to 45-minute conversation, scheduling a technical interview test, getting coffee, or a super day. If you are not able to speak confidently and succinctly or provide examples that show you’ve done research on their firm, take a hike! Whereas, if you prepare by researching their firm (reaching out and building relationships with current employees, learning about the company culture, finding a weak spot within the company) and prepare in advance how YOU can add value to their firm (bringing them a deal, introducing them to a potential client, giving them a sample of your work), there is a high probability you’ll go into this interview or meeting with confidence and get asked back for another interview.

Hiring managers are looking for candidates who know what they want.

Just the other day I was talking with a candidate who has been in the real estate business for 4 years and wanted a new job. When I asked where he wanted to be, he said I’m open to everything! That is not what a recruiter, or hiring manager, wants to hear. Whereas, if this specific candidate said the following, I’d think differently. “I’ve worked in Asset Management, Property Management, Development, and Capital Markets. With all that experience, my favorite was Development because I got to see all aspects of the business. I know what each stakeholder wants and that is why I’d be a great Developer.” I would immediately agree with them and try and get them into the next step of the hiring process.

“Ask and you shall receive” is a value that I live by. It doesn’t hurt to ask your boss for or to bring them a more sophisticated deal. It doesn’t hurt to communicate with your team the reasons you are not happy. It doesn’t hurt to ask for honest feedback about your ability to communicate, in person or through your work.

Hiring managers today focus on all these points if they see your resume come across their desk.

For you to continue to evolve in your career, keep all these points in mind while searching for that next position in Commercial Real Estate.

About the Author: Tucker is the Head of Training and Career Services at A.CRE where he works with universities, companies, and candidates to provide training and job placement. Prior to A.CRE, Tucker spent two years at the 9th largest executive recruitment firm, where he focused on recruiting top talent in Commercial Real Estate. Tucker holds a BBA in Real Estate Finance from Southern Methodist University. While at SMU, Tucker was President of the Real Estate Club and was instrumental in providing guidance and connecting students with careers in CRE. Tucker currently resides in Dallas, TX. Please email Tucker if you would like to talk.