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An interview with a recruiter - Latest trends

Ashleigh Goodchild:

Today I'm joined by Kim Coffey, who is a good friend of mine. She works at Longreach Recruitment in Perth. What I love about Kim is that she has worked in the real estate industry for several years, so she has a good understanding of what employees want and what the employer wants. So lots of questions today which I think are really relevant for employees and employers, but I did do a poll on my Instagram last week where it came up with 70% of employers have used a recruiter to employ staff. So I thought that was quite a large chunk, but is that consistent with what you're seeing?


Kim Coffey:

Yeah, absolutely. I think when you have your loyal clients that obviously you've built that relationship with, they use you over whenever the need arises, and then, I guess, with property management in particular, sometimes the timing is quite critical and they haven't been able to find the appropriate candidate to fill that role, and the speed to market coming to a recruiter that specializes in that area is essential.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Okay, excellent. Now I don't personally use a recruiter a lot because I have quite long-term staff. Is there an average of how long property managers are staying in the industry for?


Kim Coffey:

Yeah. I think the changes since probably 2012, when I first started specializing in real estate, I think the burnout rate was a lot quicker. I think with the changes to the industry, the systems and the technology, I think we're seeing a little bit more longevity in those property managers, and as long as their basic needs are met, there's not a lot of movement.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

What's a basic need?


Kim Coffey:

That they've got the culture that suits them, whether that's that they need some flexibility to pick their kids up from school... It's not always about the dollar figure, and a lot of the people that I meet aren't necessarily looking for an increase in their salary, they're looking for that culture fit for them.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

We talked about that in one of the other podcasts, about staff burnout. I think Jamie actually said it was 1.6 years that the turnover of property managers was, but I think it's getting a bit longer than that now.


Kim Coffey:

I think we're seeing better longevity now. I hate to say it, but when I was first recruiting in real estate, I felt like every property manager that I met needed some sort of Prozac or something. They were just so strung out with the workloads that they had. Again, we've got some great outsourcing services, we've got remote services, we've got cloud-based technology that's really enabling those property managers to get more work life balance.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Which is good, but I sometimes think that people outsource so much that you're a glorified admin worker as well. I think if you can outsource the stuff that your staff don't like, so sometimes people don't like PCRs, or sometimes people don't like final... well, actually always people don't like final one inspections, but sort of outsourcing those things that people don't like is probably the way to go with it.

So the employers that do use a recruiter, are they time-poor or do they just trust the recruitment process better because they don't want to use their own judgment, or do they think they get better quality? What would be the reason that someone would choose to use a recruiter?


Kim Coffey:

It's a little bit of a blend. They know that this is what we do, it's our network, we sort of should be knowing who's who in the zoo out there, and we should be able to get some feedback to them on their performance in previous roles, whereas they may not have that capacity to do that.

But also, again, it's time-poor, and these roles are critical. You've got somebody managing a portfolio, you can't have that seat empty for too long. Putting the wrong person in that seat, how many managements do you need to lose before it becomes a bigger loss?


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah, absolutely. Are people employing experience or newbies at the moment? What's the trend?


Kim Coffey:

Definitely experienced. In recruitment, they're coming to us because they want experienced people to come into that environment. I guess there's some wriggle room, I suspect, but majority of the time they do want people who are experienced. But it's not necessarily experienced in the technology as it was previously where they needed to be able to use Rest, and it was a no go if they couldn't use that system. Now, with the changes, I think most of the cloud-based systems are quite user-friendly, so that's not critical. But certainly the property management experience and the depth of that experience is quite important, depending on the role.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Then I guess you wouldn't naturally get newbies... like if you were wanting to get into the industry, you wouldn't naturally go to a recruitment agency and say, "Hey, I want to get into property management." So you would tend to only get, I would say, experienced people on your books?


Kim Coffey:

Usually but, again, I think a lot of the people that I meet, whilst they've got that experience, I'm also looking for those soft skills, the people that have worked in the service industries before that. Property management, real estate, it's about relationships. So they need to have that high-end customer service skill. So maybe my minimum requirement generally would be that they've got their registration, and it's an indicator to me that they're ready to make a career in that area, and that way, when those entry level roles do come up, then, potentially, but generally they're experienced.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Okay, excellent. What is the most unusual or best perk you have seen be offered? I said that appropriately because I originally asked Kim, "What's the most unusual or best perk you have been offered?" and we went on to a different tangent. So what have you seen employers offer?


Kim Coffey:

Actually, just recently I was speaking to a client who was offering their team an opportunity to win a trip to Hawaii, and it was KPI-based.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

How many people was that between?


Kim Coffey:

I think there were three in that team, and obviously due to circumstances, no-one really can take that trip. So that was probably one of the more unusual ones. I guess, your BDM bonuses, they're all out there, there's nothing really unusual about those. PMs used to get them but now with the lean towards getting a BDM in the office, they go to the BDM.


Kim Coffey:

I think most candidates really appreciate their bonuses being in the form of training and industry recognition. If you're talking about a career focused property manager, then they want that recognition for the hard work they've put in, and getting those training events that we've met at before, and having that recognition in the industry is pretty important. So that would be one of the biggest bonuses that most people are looking for.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

We all want to feel loved by our boss !

Okay. What is the benefit to the employee to use a recruiter? Now, I actually asked someone this a long time ago, and we had to go down the road of getting a recruiter because we just didn't have any luck privately looking for someone, and I said to the lady in the interview, "Can you give me some feedback as to why? I've had this job offered on SEEK for months and months, but I had no-one interested, and you have now come along through a recruitment agency. Aren't you looking on SEEK as well?"

She said to me that she chose to go through a recruiter because she felt that it was more private, that she wasn't just sending out her resume to people and not knowing that... they might talk to the next person, and you can't do it privately, but a recruiter you can. Is that the reason?


Kim Coffey:

That's one of the main reasons. I think you're a good example of that, Ash. How many people do you know in the industry? If you had a CV fall on your desk, you'd be able to make that connection back to somebody that they've worked with previously, and there is that risk of exposure. Maybe you've only got one foot out of the door, you're not sure whether you are leaving.

Another thing, I think, is that property managers in particular are quite time-poor, they don't have time to attend five, 10 interviews to find the right fit for them, and coming to a recruiter, they can sort of get that inside, what the vibe is in that office, what the culture is, what their salary is, the tenure or the reason for the vacancy. They can get that from the recruiter without actually having to go to five or six interviews to find out.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

So they can say to you, "This is what I'm looking for, go and shortlist me some jobs," and then you can shortlist it, and they're not doing five to six interviews, and they're not putting themself out there in a very vulnerable industry.


Kim Coffey:

They're not exposing themself, absolutely.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

I get that.


Kim Coffey:

I think some of the probably more experienced candidates that I have will come to me with a wishlist, who they've seen in the market. They're not prepared to make that approach on their own behalf and sort of seek me out to do that for them.

Ashleigh Goodchild:

Do they sometimes have unreasonable things on their wishlist or are they pretty good?


Kim Coffey:

No, they're pretty good. Look, again, like I said before, salary's not the be-all and end-all of what people are looking for, and there's always a negotiable. I think the smaller the business is, the more agility it has to work with these candidates.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah. So that comes to my next question, which is, why are people leaving? Is it lifestyle, money, proximity to work? What are you seeing?


Kim Coffey:

What they're looking for is culture, and why they're leaving is generally culture. Some of them are unreasonable, and it's a conversation that I have with them because their expectations are here and I need to establish that actually that's not unreasonable. But usually it's culture. There's people that will come to me that are earning 65 and want the same job but want to earn 70, but are not prepared to take on any more workload. So there's the variable.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah, absolutely. What do people do these days? If they're unhappy, if you're a property manager and you're unhappy in your job, do people just give notice and then just go find another job and say, "See you later"? Because I haven't been in this position for a while. Do people try and talk to their boss and tell them they want something else different and then they're not getting it, or do they just go, "You know what? I didn't like that. I'm just going to go"? What do people do, do you reckon?


Kim Coffey:

It really depends on their motivations for moving, and I think that's a really great question because you need to establish... anyone that you meet, you really need to understand their motivations for moving and whether they've had that conversation with their boss. Nine times out of 10, they would have already left the breadcrumb clues: "This is what I'm not happy about. This is why I'm unhappy," but nothing has changed, and they're ready to make that move. They need to be having those conversations because the last thing you want is to get excited about a candidate, making them an offer, only for them to be counter-offered at that resignation stage.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah. Which I've heard of that happening to people as well.


Kim Coffey:

Yeah. That's one of the most important questions you can find and make sure that they are ready for that move.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

That's it. Because I think there was one recently where the property manager had given notice to the boss and then the boss had... then they had gone, and then the boss said, "Well, if I knew you were leaving, I would've matched... I can give you what they're offering," and then they stayed. It was like, well, if you had that discussion in the first place, you could have actually probably worked out a plan.


Kim Coffey:

Absolutely. I think what happens too, unfortunately, once you've resigned, there's always that-


Ashleigh Goodchild:

It's a bit awkward.


Kim Coffey:

... loyalty: "Okay. So..." So it can sort of make that relationship quite awkward.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah. I think whenever I have staff that come to me with a pay rise request or anything like that, we always look at it and say, "Yeah, that's fine. The request is actually fine, but what can we do to get you in that position with your job, where a pay rise is warranted?" So if I pay an average pay for an average sized portfolio and you want more than the average pay, I will say to you, "Well, listen. To earn more than the average pay for the average portfolio, you've got to do something extra. So we can do this, this or this or this." So then we've had a plan where we have put that in place for a staff member to take over some extra managements which she's comfortable she can do, to justify her having that pay rise-


Kim Coffey:

Yeah, absolutely.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

... as opposed to just giving a pay rise for the sake of doing it.


Kim Coffey:

To hold on to staff. That can really get out of control.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah. And then people talk and they compare. It's really hard. The one dilemma I've always had in the past is, do you pay for experience? So if you've been in the industry for two years or five years or 10 years, is there a pay, or do you pay for loyalty to the business? There's so many different variances. I've always just gone on the fact that I pay for the experience you've got.


Kim Coffey:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Again, do you pay for the experience or do you pay for the job that they're doing? Someone may only have two years experience but is managing a far larger portfolio, and that portfolio is obviously creating some great cashflow for the business: What do you do there? They're managing maybe more than a senior PM.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah. My final decision does come down to the income for that portfolio. So I sort of have a formula that I work with. So as long as the pay is in line with my formula and percentage of that portfolio, then I'm normally comfortable. So I'm sort of somewhat paying based on... just, for example, I can't even remember what the exact statistic was, but your pay will be 20% of that portfolio or whatever it is-


Kim Coffey:

Yeah. Makes sense.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

It also takes the emotion out of pay rises and staff as well because it's all a formula and there's no emotion.


Kim Coffey:

It puts it into perspective for them as well. As a business, you can't be paying someone more than the portfolio's making, it still has to show some profit for the business.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Has there been any changes to recruitment in the last five years?


Kim Coffey:

No, not really. Recruitment's recruitment. Besides maybe going to a cloud-based system ourselves and being able to work a little bit more remotely, not r

I think the biggest changes for me in particular have just been keeping abreast of the changes with the industry that I recruit in, and they have been massive, and I guess that changes the candidate that people are looking for. Some people are still looking for your traditional PM and others need someone that's sort of, I guess, happier to move with those changes in the industry

There's so many variables, as you know. Some offices are task-based or more tiered, where they've got a senior, a PM, an assistant, somebody doing outside work.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Do you see any businesses perform better with pod-based or portfolio-based? Do you see a trend there?


Kim Coffey:

It depends on the size. If you're talking about your standard sized real estate agency, capability-


Ashleigh Goodchild:

About 200 or under?


Kim Coffey:

Yeah. I think 200 or under. I think probably they work better with sort of the traditional model.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Portfolio.


Kim Coffey:

You can't have five people working in there doing different tasks because there's no profit.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

There's no tasks.


Kim Coffey:

Whereas with some of the bigger agencies, the rent rolls that are around the 2,000 or 3,000-


Ashleigh Goodchild:

I was even going to say 1,000 really.


Kim Coffey:

Yeah. Being able to offer those task-based opportunities are there definitely.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

I think task-based is good to a certain extent. I've tried it and it just hasn't worked for me and the clients, but I don't mind task-based with the leasing side of things. But when it comes to like one person who does maintenance, one who does owners, one who does tenants, one who does inspections, I think that gets hard.


Kim Coffey:

It's not for everyone. I meet property managers that will say, "I hate... I love... I love leasing." "Okay, great. Let's focus on leasing for you," and they don't want to do the ingoing property condition reports or anything like that, they just love the leasing aspect of the role. The leasing role's a tough one because what do you do when you've got low vacancy?


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Well, yeah.


Kim Coffey:

You need a robust leasing officer that can operate and do these things as well.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah. Because we have been sitting at 35 properties being advertised for the last three years, and we are today down to about 12-

... and the girls are like, "Oh, I've got some free time." I was like, "Beautiful. Managing authorities now. You can do that." But you're right. If you don't have the leasing, you don't have the property condition reports as well, so even your property condition reports is down. You don't have the final bond inspections as well probably because there's not as many people changing. So there's actually a lot of jobs that are minimized.


Kim Coffey:

And they Can become redundant for certain periods of the cycle.

Ashleigh Goodchild:

I think we're all suffering... well, not suffering, I don't want to say suffering, but I think we're all dealing with that at the moment with the low vacancy rates, which is good and bad at the same time. I think good for staff members, and somewhat bad for business owners because that's a good chunk of income that you don't have coming through.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Are there any future changes we should be aware of it with hiring staff?


Kim Coffey:

No. Not really, no. I wouldn't imagine. The biggest changes have happened sort of in the last couple of years. It's an exciting industry to be part of. I love real estate. The changes to the industry, I think, you've got your young, upcoming property managers and you've still got your traditional, 10 year plus experienced property managers. I don't see a great deal of change.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

And there's a space for all of us.


Kim Coffey:

There is a space for everyone. That's the thing, I think, which is quite exciting. You're meeting your candidates and having a good relationship with your clients, and just knowing that, knowing how to match what they're looking for with your candidate pool.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Yeah. So I think that is all my questions. I always love catching up with you. You are fun professionally and personally. I appreciate you joining me today and giving us a really great insight into real estate recruitment.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

Is there a final tip that you can leave us with today for either employers or employees?


Kim Coffey:

For employers, I would say build a really good relationship with your recruiter. Let them know the ins and outs because they are obviously trying to source the best fit for you. When the need arises, we're better off being on that front foot and understanding your business and what you're looking for to grow.


Ashleigh Goodchild:

And a tip for employees?


Kim Coffey:

Talk to your boss. And tenure. Staying somewhere for a year and not being happy and not being able to work through that repetitively, isn't going to put you in good stead for career development. You need to make some good decisions on the upfront and stick with it and get tenure. That is how I've seen some of these great property managers really get that career growth, the salary, expectations being met, and the recognition in the industry.


For any real estate recruitment needs contact: -


Kim Coffey - Real Estate Consultant

kim@longreachrecruitment.com.au



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