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How To Break Into Property Management
With a background in hospitality and 3 young kids at home, Rachel Rogers took the brave step of following her dreams to a career in property management. How did she do it? We recently took time out to hear her inspiring story.
How one jobseeker made a successful career change into property management
Rachel completed the Property Management course at the Real Estate Training College and gained her license in 2018, while she was busy raising her three young children. Having tragically lost her husband to a rare cancer in 2016, Rachel focused on raising her young family until she was ready to start job hunting in early 2020. Having always shown a strong interest in the real estate industry, Rachel had already completed some property investment courses in 2017 and 2018.
Rachel was ready to start job hunting in February 2020 but had to put that on hold for a few more months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She started putting resumes out mid-year, but every employer wanted a minimum of 2 years’ experience in property management, which she did not have. She applied for these roles anyway but had no success getting job interviews.
She didn’t want to be out of work for too long, so she took a job in hospitality while she kept looking for a property management role. This only reaffirmed her determination to gain a role in property management.
Then she was given some great advice by a friend of a friend who was a real estate principal. His advice was to target the larger companies, not smaller ones, and to get out there to make contacts in the real estate industry in person.
Rachel then started reaching out to her own contacts, telling them what she was looking for and that’s when an opportunity arose. A real estate agency had advertised on a local school website that they were looking for a property management graduate and that experience was not essential. Overnight Rachel researched the company and the next morning visited the agency. She spoke to the agency principal and they were impressed and promptly booked her in for a job interview. She got the job and started in late August.
What does your job entail and how is it going?
The team at Raine and Horne and very supportive and I'm really enjoying my role. To start with I’ve been doing routine inspections, ingoing and outgoing inspections whilst I work towards being responsible for managing properties by myself. I have just been given two properties to manage, so it’s great to see some progression. I work with and support a highly experienced senior property manager who acts as a mentor and is there to answer any questions I have.
Do you have any advice for other property management graduates on how to increase their chances of gaining employment in the industry?
You've got to get out there in person. When I met the director of a real estate agency (who was a friend of a friend), his advice was to get out there in person and target the larger agencies to start with. If you’ve got a solid resume to back it up, you need to meet people in person to demonstrate that you are personable and professional. It can be a scary thing to do especially when you’ve been out of work for a while, but my advice is to follow your dreams, forget about the fear and go for it.
I’d recommend starting your job search in your local suburbs first as you have local knowledge and the convenience of being close to home.
Do you have any suggestions for the real estate industry about how we can improve job opportunities for property management graduates?
It would have been great to undertake some work experience prior to attending job interviews, which I would have happily done at no cost.
Why real estate?
I've always been interested in real estate. I am one of those people who would love to spend a whole day going through display homes. I go to lots of open homes in my area and I'm always looking at real estate.com. It’s a passion!
Thank you to Rachel Rogers from Raine and Horne for sharing her inspiring career story. We hope this provides jobseekers with useful advice and motivation to follow their career dreams.
The Property Management Graduate Job Conundrum
Graduates who have completed their property management training and gained their registration are finding it difficult to gain jobs in the property industry. With a shortage of quality property management candidates continuing to hinder the industry together with some reluctance from employers to take on graduates with no experience, how can the property management industry bridge the gap between training and productive employment? We spoke with Adam Blight, Director of Property Management at Ouwens Casserly and Emma Slape, CEO at Turner Real Estate for their views on this topical issue.
In discussions with industry leaders, there is no easy solution. Should the industry or the training organisations take more responsibility? Where does the responsibility lie?
What is the main reason property management graduates are finding it hard to get jobs in the property industry in South Australia?
To be a property manager you need to know a lot about a lot. It's not as simple as knowing the act. There are lots of programs out there and technology that you need to get your head around. I've been in the business for 17 years and at least once a week, we'll come across something that we haven't had to deal with before.
To get someone to go from graduation to being a productive property manager takes anywhere from 6 months to two years, which is a significant investment for businesses and even more so for smaller businesses. Even if you're only being paid a smaller wage or a traineeship wage, an assistant property manager is still not paying for themselves for the first 6 months, so you do need significant resources to employ someone.
Real estate is demanding from day 1 so in busy times, businesses will look for experience so that their new team member can hit the ground running. Unless agencies have senior staff who have time allocated to train, support and mentor new recruits, the fit often doesn’t exist for an inexperienced graduate, unfortunately.
How are property management graduates with no experience viewed by property employers?
We've always viewed property management graduates with no experience as an opportunity. They don't have any bad habits and are potentially a lot more optimistic than those who have been in the industry for a long time. It's a chance for us to mould them into what we want out of a property manager. For our organisation, being one of the larger real estate companies, we have the resources to bring them in.
One challenge we’ve had, especially in the last 3-4 years, is having graduates come in with no experience and not having the patience to learn the ropes before wanting to manage a portfolio themselves. Some of the young people coming into the industry have unreasonably high expectations of where they should be in a short space of time. Being a property manager is a very high trust role with responsibility for high-value assets, so, businesses carry a lot of risk if they choose to promote somebody before they are ready.
In saying that we have some excellent young guns in our team who are doing well, and seven out of our ten property managers started with us with no experience, so it's a channel that we've had a lot of success with. The challenge for employers is getting the timing right when to promote trainees. Doing this too early can result in them burning out and becoming overwhelmed.
This really depends on the agency and recruitment model. At Turner Real Estate, we love starting newbies in their PM journey and we gradually build their skills, brick by brick as they learn our systems and processes. We’ve had a lot of success with this model, but we also have senior team members allocated to train and mentor. Generally, the larger agencies have more opportunities for graduates, whereas smaller agencies often need team members with experience and a full PM skillset from day 1.
What could bridge the gap to employment for graduates with their property management license?
It's hard to substitute on the job, 'hands-on' experience. In a theoretical environment, when you don't have any background or any context on why rules are and how they're implemented, I think it's a tough ask for the training organisations to produce a graduate that’s ready to go, without real-world experience or work experience, unfortunately.
More practical training in the PM license is necessary to bridge this gap. Currently, a lot of the training is online, which is great for the theory components, but more simulation of ‘in the field’ work would go a long way. Personally, I’d like to see priority given to conducting quality open inspections, routines and ingoing reports so that the entry-level graduates can immediately help the more senior team members. It is time-consuming to train and learn this, it might be weeks of practice – but they are core skills which would be attractive to employers from day 1 and graduates could then show employers their level of detail and understanding of properties.
What support would employers need to take on licensed graduates with little or no real-world experience?
I think if there was a little bit more flexibility in what trainees were able to do without having their property management license, it would be easier for businesses to be able to offer traineeships in property management.
Back when I started in the industry, I was on a traineeship which meant a low wage, doing my training over a year. At that time, I could be productive and still do property inspections and work unsupervised. The challenge now is that trainees can't work unsupervised and do property inspections of any sort.
Employers, especially small employers would need significant financial incentives to take on graduates because of the limited resources they have. Also, the difference between having someone without experience and someone who is experienced isn't that much of a significant difference pay wise.
You have to have a dedicated team member taking responsibility for training. New people can’t be expected to just watch and learn by osmosis – they need to be supported, reviewed, mentored and counselled when they get off track. It is a time-consuming process, but it’s extremely rewarding to see people reach the next level and employers will also find incredible staff retention and loyalty when they make these investments in their team.
How To Bounce Back From A Job Interview Clanger
It’s a terrible feeling when you’ve made a blunder in a job interview and you think your chances of getting the job have been crushed. However, a major mistake may not necessarily be a deal-breaker. There are many ways you can mitigate the damage and show that you have the tenacity to bounce back. Here are some of the most common clangers made during job interviews and our advice on how to recover.
Common interview clangers
- You get stuck or go blank
Interviews can be nerve-wracking and suddenly going blank or forgetting a question is not uncommon. If this occurs, you could ask the interviewer to rephrase the question, provide further context to the question, or ask to go back to the question later.
- Not answering questions or providing evasive answers
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make in job interviews. When interviewees don’t understand a question, they sometimes ‘waffle on’ and provide evasive answers. Instead, we recommend that candidates seek further clarification about the question, such as: ‘Is that the sort of information you were looking for? Have I answered your question? I’m a bit nervous and have just lost my train of thought, can you repeat the question?
- Being too negative about previous employers
If you’ve had a bad experience with past employers, it’s easy to be overly negative when describing your experience there. However, we strongly advise against this as it can make you look ungrateful and disloyal. If you’ve made the mistake of being overly negative about past employer/s, counteract this by saying something positive that you valued about that employer. Perhaps it was the team culture, colleagues, the company values, or the type of work you did.
- Talking too much
Taking up too much of the conversation in an interview will not work in your favour. Let the interviewer direct the conversation and allow them the time to ask their questions. If you overtake the interview, your interviewer may perceive this is how you would behave in the workplace. If you’ve started your interview this way, it’s not too late to turn it around. Try your best to keep your subsequent answers shorter and more succinct and never interrupt the interviewer when they’re speaking. If you get the opportunity at the end of the interview, you can apologise for talking too much or perhaps say that you were nervous if that was the cause.
Other tools of recovery
- Ask further questions
As well as providing a great opportunity to learn more about the company, asking further questions can allow you to counter any overly negative comments you may have made.
- Send a thank you note
Sending a thank you note post-interview is an opportunity to express your gratitude for the interviewer’s time, to clarify any points you did not effectively convey in the interview, and reinforce why you’d be a good fit for the role.
- Emphasize your strengths
Focus on one or two key strengths about yourself or your achievements that you’d like to get across during the interview. If you get the opportunity to repeat this message at the end of the interview, this is an excellent way to reinforce your strengths and be remembered.
Kelly Armstrong, property recruitment specialist says ‘If you’ve made a mistake mid-interview, don't give up. Making a mistake does not mean your chances of getting the role are dashed. Keep trying and fighting and don’t forget to convey how enthusiastic you are about the role.”
In our experience in the recruitment industry, we’ve seen many mistakes made by prospective job candidates. If you’ve made a serious clanger in a job interview, don’t worry, it can often be mitigated with the tools of recovery outlined above, and if not, you’ve learned some valuable lessons for your next job interview.
Ultimate Work-From-Home Playlist To Stay Focused
As a seasoned ‘work-from-homer’, when COVID-19 hit I was far more prepared than most. Knowing how to motivate yourself without the atmosphere of a busy office and coworkers, takes a bit of practice and preparation.
To get motivated for work, I set up my home office like a café, with a big pot of tea, good lighting, a plant, oil burner and my favourite chill-out tracks. Not everyone is a fan of chill-out, downtempo, or ambient tunes, but they tick all the boxes for music that keeps you focussed and isn’t distracting.
If you like to listen to music while you work, it pays to be selective about the music you listen to. A variety of studies show that listening to music with lyrics whilst working can be a distraction. Your brain struggles to listen to the lyrics and focus on the work at the same time, especially if you’re reading or writing. It's akin to multi-tasking, which can affect the quality of your work and your IQ. Instead, opt for music that contains minimal or no lyrics. Personally, I’ve also noticed that foreign language songs are less distracting because I'm less engaged with the lyrics.
If you are doing more repetitive tasks that require less brainpower, listening to music with lyrics is fine and will be less of a burden on your brain. Whilst the science is overwhelmingly in favour of music with no lyrics for producing high levels of productivity and wellbeing whilst working, every person is affected by music differently.
I used to work with a computer programmer who suffered from ADHD, and he did his best work whilst listening to high energy beats and heavy metal. As someone who suffers from hypersensitivity to noise, the type of music I choose changes daily, depending on my energy levels and mood. Some days, I just can’t stand music and silence is the best way for me to stay productive.
As a self-professed chill-out/downtempo/trip-hop music tragic, here are my favourite work playlists to break the silence, stay focussed and make the most out of working from home.
- St Germain
- Thievery Corporation
The Mirror Conspiracy
- Putamayo Presents
Bossa Nova Around the World
- Café Del Mar
Essentials Playlist 3
- Boozoo Bajou
- Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
(Music from the Netflix Film)
This one is for dancing in your lunch break! This will absolutely be a distraction, so use it to get some quick exercise when you’re not on the clock. It's very silly, so to give it context, it's best to see the film first.
And remember if you start feeling sleepy, you’ve taken the chill-out vibe too far! What are your favourite work from home playlists? Feel free to share in the comments.
Words by Jo Kiley
Is the anomaly in your job application a deal-breaker?
Jane Carey, a recruiter for the past 22 years, received a job application for a facilities management role she advertised. A few moments enabled her to review the candidate’s recent experience, qualifications, goals and aspirations...all looking good. But wait, what’s this? It looks like this candidate has an anomaly in their application. Is it a deal-breaker, or does it require further investigation to substantiate? Either way, the candidate’s hopes of getting a job interview have just decreased, especially if there are other quality candidates vying for the same role.
So, what anomalies are commonly found in job applications and why do they pose a problem for recruiters and employers.
Whilst being in one or two jobs for a short period of time is not an issue, regular job hopping can be a deal-breaker for recruiters. When a resume shows lots of short stints in job roles, it indicates that the applicant may be unsettled, lacking security and a sense of loyalty to their previous employers, meaning they are less likely to be successful in the role. If roles are short term for a reason e.g. for a temp assignment, add this detail to your resume.
- Referees listed are not from recent job roles
A recruiter uses references for feedback on a candidate’s recent job performance. Without recent information about job history, performance and conduct, a recruiter may not have the confidence to put the candidate forward for a role. Remember, when a recruiter recommends a candidate for a job, their reputation is on the line too!
- Unexplained gaps in employment
Gaps in employment are not necessarily a bad thing if the gap is explained either in the resume or cover letter. Usually, there are perfectly logical explanations such as study leave, illness or injury, parental leave, travel, etc. Without an explanation, however, the recruiter or employer will have to guess at the reason for the gap and spend time substantiating the reasons, if they wish to progress the application.
- When studies don’t match the job choice
When an applicant applies for a property management role but is studying marine biology, a recruiter will question their commitment to the job and career path. This may look like an anomaly on a resume, but it doesn’t have to be a problem. It should, however, be addressed to avoid confusion. Some people study for personal interest and just love to learn or may not wish to work in the field they’re studying for another 5 – 10 years.
- Serial applicants who apply for every job
Applicants who repeatedly apply for jobs which they are not skilled in or qualified for, damage their chances of getting the job they applied for. Furthermore, they can develop a reputation as a serial applicant, affecting their chances of getting future roles.
- Spelling and grammar issues throughout the resume
Recruiters may not be worried when coming across a typo in a resume but seeing multiple spelling and grammar mistakes will cause alarm bells to sound. The recruiter will then have to consider if the mistakes are due to, a poor command of the language, lousy attention to detail, or a lack of enthusiasm for the role.
- Overseas/Interstate applications not explained
Applications from people living overseas and interstate are welcome. But when these applicants don’t explain their relocation plan, this brings a definitive obstacle to their application progressing. This is especially important now with strict travel restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Location disparity
A long commute can become a drain over time. If employees are required to work on location or in the office, employers care how far they commute. When we receive an application for a role in Port Adelaide from someone who lives in Mt. Barker, we’re concerned the distance may be a problem. There are times when this disparity can be explained. Perhaps this person’s partner also works in Pt. Adelaide and they commute together. Perhaps they’re writing a book and use the commute time to write. There could be many reasonable explanations for the location disparity, but again, this should be addressed in the job application.
A good recruiter has a sixth sense for false information or when something just doesn’t look right, so it’s best to be upfront and address any queries before they turn into reasons to reject your application.
Before you send off your next job application, imagine you're the hiring manager. Their objective is to hire someone who will thrive in their business and executive the job required whilst getting along with the existing team. Consider any questions a recruiter or employer might have about your job application before they become an anomaly. Then address the reasons for any concerns in your cover letter or in a phone call to the recruiter or potential employer.
Good luck with your job hunt!