In the wake of the Great Recession, the pendulum has swung, and to remain competitive companies now are increasing their overall compensation packages (i.e., salary, bonus structure, benefits, perks, etc.) to hire and retain the most qualified candidates in the job pool. With the market on the rise, employers must refine their hiring practices to identify, attract, and secure prospective top talent during an interview process. 

As principal of RETS Associates, I specialize in the placement of interim, permanent and executive positions in the real estate industry and I am an expert in recruiting and retaining top talent. I have identified the top four hiring practices of highly successful companies, regardless of their size. Here, I share my more than 20 years of expertise in real estate and executive search, and provides tips for managing and, when appropriate, accelerating the hiring process to secure the best candidates.

Provide Opportunities for Growth

Companies that retain top talent offer their employees growth opportunities for professional development (e.g., new skills training, seminars/webinars, conferences, etc.), on-the-job experiences (e.g., travel, working with various organizational leaders, etc.) and increasing levels of responsibility. A recent primary research study of more than 260 real estate professionals conducted by RETS indicated that growth potential within a company was the third most important decision-making factor when considering new employment opportunities, ranking closely behind compensation and geographic location. As a result, when recruiting or keeping high-level talent, employers must carefully consider whether the person’s role is “blocked” from ascending by another team member or other circumstances. If so, employers must creatively find other ways to ensure growth in the workplace or risk losing a candidate or current employee who – according to the research – is not afraid to turn down an offer or leave a current position if there is no path for advancement.

Treat the Compensation Package as an Investment, Not an Expense

Though a candidate is greatly driven by opportunities for growth, the compensation package still remains the highest consideration for candidates who weigh whether to accept an offer. Many times, companies will view a compensation package as an expense, thereby compelling hiring managers to sometimes reduce the package to save company money. A balance between “right-sizing” the package in the best interests of the hiring company and providing a compelling offer must be struck. During the interview process, the hiring manager must ask key questions to assess each candidate’s abilities and in turn tailor a custom, competitive package that ideally ties to incentives that achieve mutually beneficial business goals. In other words, qualified candidates that drive maximum productivity that results in increased bottom-line revenue or profitability should feel as though they have a financial stake in that success. Prior to offering a package, it is important to thoroughly understand what is considered “competitive.” This research may require the help of a third-party recruiter or placement firm. In addition to the research, companies that keep top talent philosophically understand that one important factor in high employee-retention rates is regarding a compensation package as a mutually beneficial investment for both the employee and the business.

Ensure Candidates are a Proper Culture Fit

When seeking top talent, highly successful companies understand that the interview process involves more preparation and analysis than actual interview time. RETS advises to not only seek information on a candidate’s education and work experience, but also conduct performance and behavioral interviews to uncover technical skills, internal personal motivators and environmental preferences. This research will provide a hiring manager with insight into how a candidate will fit into the culture of an organization, work under pressure and handle different management styles. RETS uses a comprehensive profiling questionnaire to help ascertain whether a candidate is a proper fit. 

The Power is Now in the Candidate’s Hands

In today’s market, there has been a shift in power during the interview process from the company to the candidate. During the Great Recession, many candidates gratefully accepted any offer to simply have a job. The upturn in the market and competition to hire top talent has created greater expectations of what companies can offer a candidate. According to RETS’ research study, candidates’ top considerations when evaluating an offer include medical coverage, a healthy amount of vacation and PTO (personal time off), and 401K matching. Because strong talent is at a premium, hiring managers must be competitive in providing these benefits, and the successful hiring organizations have been more aggressive in including these items in their compensation packages.

Conclusion

In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, offering a competitive compensation package with strong benefits is merely the starting point to recruit and retain top talent. Prospective employees must see and understand what growth opportunities exist within the organization, and employers must ensure that candidates are a cultural fit. Only this way can both the employer and employee hope to deliver the best possible workplace experience.

Kent Elliott and RETS Associates can be contacted at 949.724.0800 or at www.retsusa.com