The Future of Attracting Talent


Recently I had the opportunity to attend Kennedy Information’s Recruiting 2009 Conference and Expo, The Pillars of Recruiting.  The audience consisted mainly of people reasonable for attracting talent at a corporate level for companies in various industries. At first glance you might think a corporate recruiters job is pretty easy these days. With almost 14 million unemployed, there certainly are a lot of people looking for work. However, I quickly learned that there are many downsides and challenges facing the corporate recruiting industry.

With so many applicants the importance of making the right hiring decision has become more critical than ever before. Companies can no longer afford the costs involved in putting the wrong person in a position. This adds extraordinary pressure to the person responsible for recruiting. This is no different in our industry. The supply of candidates is certainly less then it was five years ago, but the cost of hiring an agent that doesn’t work out has definitely gone up. If this agent loses just one opportunity for a sale per month, each month for 6 months for example, the consequences for that office is staggering.

Often times, recruiters are also charged with retention. Compensation and opportunity have historically been two of the key drivers of retention. In the corporate world today, these two motivators have been replaced with an attitude of “if they don’t like it here, they can go somewhere else, there are plenty of other people who want a job.”

In the real estate industry, we don’t have the margins to rely on compensation as a retention tool and when the market was good most agents were too busy to think of leaving. Now, in both a corporate environment and in real estate we have to find other ways to retain good talent.

My takeaways from the event were rather grim. In a nutshell, the messages that resonated for me were that the jobs lost during this economic downturn are not coming back. We have seen a structural change in the job market. Companies who need to protect their bottom lines in order to survive are having to do so at the sacrifice of their employees. Raises, bonuses, paid expenses, promotions, and other incentives have become nonexistent or at least very limited. Employees are expected to be happy just to have a job.

I asked one of the speakers how he felt these changes in corporate America would effect our ability to attract and retain talent in the real estate industry. It was a very interesting conversation. He felt we were between a rock and a hard spot. In terms of attracting new talent, the freedom and flexibility of the independent contractor would grow in appeal. But the downside would be the uncertainty of the housing market.

I know two things for certain:

  1. We need to attract and retain the best talent to our profession, and;
  2. We will not be able to do this the same way we have done in the past.

The question is, how will we attract and retain talent in the real estate industry moving forward? The answer, is something we we working on every single day.

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