Will Recovery Spark New Hiring?
CCIMs reach for better career opportunities.
real estate professionals have done their best to ride out the economic storm
and the deep real estate recession. The focus for many professionals has simply
been staying afloat, as opposed to moving careers forward. However, that tide
may be starting to turn as the recovery gains momentum.
no doubt that the past three years have been extremely challenging for
commercial real estate professionals across the board. The industry saw very
were certainly job changes, but it was more reactive — kind of like a game of
musical chairs,” says Paige Palmer, CCIM, CPM, RPA, an executive search partner
at Search Professionals International in Plano, Texas. “There were not many job
opportunities out there. You just had to try to find a seat, even if it was not
the right seat.”
number of people who are still unemployed or underemployed, it is still very
much an employer’s market. Even industry veterans were displaced during the
downturn, as transaction activity ground to halt and companies were forced to
cut back on staffing to run more efficiently.
would have been more tempted to move out of the commercial real estate industry
and change jobs if there was somewhere to go. But, in this particular
recession, there was really no place to go because other industries were
suffering as well,” Palmer adds.
gained momentum in the second half of 2012. In particular, activity has picked
up on the East and West Coasts and is now expanding into other markets in the
rest of the country, notes Palmer. “There is not any one area that is really
hot. We are seeing a wide range of opportunities, which is a good thing,” she
says. New hiring in transaction-related positions such as leasing,
acquisitions, and development have been virtually nonexistent in recent years.
But even those positions are starting to return. “There might not be many, but
they are coming back,” adds Palmer.
S.C., is one market where hiring has returned along with improvement in the
commercial real estate sector. “As the market continues to heal and as
financing becomes more and more available for projects, you will see more new
brokers getting into the business,” says Brian Young, CCIM, SIOR, senior vice
president, managing broker at Cushman & Wakefield/Thalhimer in Greenville.
“I think you will also see more brokers that weren’t making it over the last
two to three years start to make money again and be rewarded for having stayed
in the business.”
of its ongoing expansion in the Mid-Atlantic, Richmond-based C&W/Thalhimer
acquired the South Carolina firm of Coppedge & Tison in February 2012 and
established offices in both Greenville and Charleston. In June 2012, Young was
hired to serve as broker in charge of the new C&W/Thalhimer office in
Greenville. His main focus is growing the brand in Greenville, recruiting new
brokers, and pursuing corporate business.
hired three new brokers during 3Q12, and Young hopes to grow the team of five
brokers to eight or nine by the end of 2013. He also expects to add support
staff and recruit a summer intern. “We are looking for retail and office
brokers, in particular, to help us execute on new business opportunities,” says
Young. “We are also considering hiring junior-level brokers who would work on a
team with senior brokers in our office.” C&W has seen hiring pick up across
its broader network of affiliates. The company made 1,900 hires in 2011 and an
additional 1,200 hires year-to-date through August 2012 across its 253 offices
in 60 countries.
Facing Fierce Competition
real estate professionals who are actively looking for jobs or to advance their
careers are finding an intensely competitive market. Candidates need to be on
top of their game when it comes to setting themselves apart, sharpening their
skills as they work to identify and secure new positions.
Martin, CCIM, CPM, RPA, can speak firsthand to the challenges in the current
market. Despite an 18-year career in the industry and a reputation as a top
investment sales broker, Martin found himself scrambling to find a job. After
months of searching, he landed at the University of Illinois in September as
the assistant director of real estate.
job market, the key to finding opportunities is doing everything: networking
with other CCIMs and using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Monster.com. “It is
literally a full-time job,” Martin says. “You can’t assume that because your
resume is put in one time that they are going to keep it in their top drawer.
It doesn’t work like that.”
real estate professionals are increasingly taking advantage of technology and
new resources such as social media to network, maintain industry relationships,
and search for available jobs. “The commercial real estate world is changing
and within our jobs we need to continue to reinvent ourselves to adapt to this
change,” says Shawn E. Massey, CCIM, SCLS, a partner at The Shopping Center
Group in Memphis, Tenn. Massey uses Twitter and also writes his own retail blog
graduate school adjunct professor at the University of Memphis, Massey mentors
both students and friends on the importance of using resources such as LinkedIn
to identify job opportunities. “Although, face-to-face networking is by far the best way to
create a new opportunity, I see multiple jobs offered through the various
groups I belong to every day,” he says.
professionals are using the downturn to enhance skills, which can be an added
bonus when trying to differentiate themselves in a crowded field of worthy job
candidates. Designations such as CCIM do make a difference. Professionals also
are taking the time to pursue professional designations, complete graduate
degree programs, and take additional training or courses on financial analysis
software, such as Argus.
Bishop, CCIM, a broker at Southeast Venture in Nashville, Tenn., opted to use
the economic recovery period to sharpen his brokerage skills, build on his
knowledge, and focus on networking and strengthening relationships. “I thought
that if I could do that, then when we came out of this recession, I would be in
a pretty good position,” Bishop says. He started his career as a mortgage
banker in the 1990s and moved into the commercial real estate sector in 2006
where he worked on developing NNN retail properties. Even though that business
came to a screeching halt when the recession hit, Bishop opted to stay in
brokerage and decided that it was an opportune time to sharpen his skills. He
obtained his CCIM designation in September 2011.
the market recovers, real estate firms remain cautious, and as such, hiring has
been slow to increase. “When companies do hire for either newly created
positions or replacement positions, there is quite a bit of focus on assessing
talent, identifying top performers, and making the right hire, not only for
today, but for the future,” says Katie M. Becker, a managing principal at
Christenson Advisors in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. The firm provides executive
recruiting and consulting services to the real estate industry.
side is that candidates also are much savvier than they have been in the past.
They are assessing the viability of future employers. “Many smart and talented
employees found themselves out of a job despite their own performance, and they
are using great care when considering their next move,” she adds.
In order to land that top talent, companies need to have a strong message as to why
somebody should join their organization, Becker says. Real estate firms need to
communicate the short- and long-term benefits of working for their organization
to any future employees. That is something that candidates are taking into
consideration, because they want long-term stability. Professionals also
recognize that too much “job hopping” is not attractive to future employers.
“Some of that has been out of their control, but candidates are being careful to
make sure that the next move is the right move,” she adds.
Mattson-Teig is a business writer based in
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An Improving Market
New employment opportunities are returning and
companies are hiring again. Professional and business services added 51,000
jobs in October 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since
September 2009, employment in the sector has expanded by 1.6 million, or by an
average of 44,000 jobs per month as of October 2012.
Sentiment regarding hiring and new job opportunities
in the real estate sector is also beginning to swing in a more positive
direction. The commercial real estate job market saw steady improvement in
2012, with job postings up 32 percent over 2011 at the end of third quarter
2012, according to the Cornell/SelectLeaders Job Barometer. Job opportunities
in the retail and multifamily sectors grew by 22 percent and 15 percent
respectively, while office grew by 9.4 percent. Based on job postings, property
management, asset/portfolio management, and accounting/control were the top
three job functions, accounting for 30 percent of all postings.
Acquisition/disposition job offers grew a little more than 5 percent from 2011
to 2012, while brokerage and leasing job offers declined slightly, indicating
the still-recovering state of the real estate market.
“There are pockets of hiring
happening, and lots of encouraging signs that we are all grasping. But, in all
honesty, I think the recovery will remain slow through the next year,” says
Katie M. Becker, a managing principal at Christenson Advisors in Oakbrook
Terrace, Ill. “Even as the market recovers, companies are savvier and they are
being cautious with their hiring so they don’t bulk up too much and have to go
through the layoffs again. So the mantra that we are seeing is that companies
are pushing employees to do more with less.”