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How to recruit staff cost-effectively in the digital age

We’ve moved on from circling newspaper ads with a red pen to a highly evolved recruitment process. Lisa Isaacs reviews the new routes available to employers and job seekers.

Lisa Isaacs

Online recruitment image

Recruitment. It’s full of clichés; an ever decreasing pool of talent, revolving doors and carrots being dangled, in reality, the property employment scene is mobile, healthy and packed full of employees willing to get on and move up the career ladder.

New staff, however, can be expensive. A study by Oxford Economics found it costs employers £30,000 to get a rookie recruit up to speed, with £25,000 in lost revenue while the person learns the ropes and £5,000 spent on advertising, temporary cover and time spent reading CVs and interviewing. If you find yourself with a white envelope on your desk (although that cliché has been replaced with an email or even a WhatsApp message) from a staff member with itchy feet, read on.


Online recruitment is quick to action and cheap to run but sifting CVs from unsuitable applicants can be frustrating if you have set your job filters precisely. Many job boards exist – Reed, Monster and Total, to name a few – they pull from the widest possible pool of candidates and you’re likely to get speculative CVs from warehouse packers when you actually stipulated experienced property managers.

To ensure that agents can search within their own industry – and save time – The Negotiator has created www.thenegotiatorjobs.co.uk – with thousands of vacancies for your perusal. As a property industry leader, we have the distinct advantage of a ready-made agency audience, backed by substantial marketing campaigns for added visibility.


An advert placed on a job board will almost guarantee a response but what if you don’t have time to CV sift and vet candidates? Thankfully, property-specific recruitment agencies exist, making it easier for both advertiser and applicant to find each other. Before you take a sharp intake of breath at the thought of agency fees, today’s recruitment specialists employ highly sophisticated methods of candidate matching to ensure agents interview the very best people and receive a return on investment.

We are the only property recruiter licensed in The Predictive Index Behavioural Assessment – part of our pursuit of a ‘deep match’ for our clients. Lynn Cannell, LCA Jobs.

Lynn Cannell - LCA Jobs - imageLynn Cannell, the Director of LCA Jobs, takes a unique approach, “We are the only UK property recruiter to be trained and licensed in The Predictive Index Behavioural Assessment™ – a science-based framework that allows us to screen a candidate pool and dramatically increase the chances of job-person fit.” The strategy is part of the LCA team’s pursuit of what Lynn calls ‘a deep match’, knowing that the cost of a poor recruitment strategy outweighs agency fees.

We are increasingly filling roles via LinkedIn – it’s designed more for business than the other social media networks, where people look for friends. Gareth Broom, GCB Recruitment.

Gareth Broom imageGareth Broom, the owner of GCB Recruitment also highlights the ‘hidden’ jobs that recruitment agencies often hold.

“We have confidential and unpublished vacancies that job seekers won’t know about unless they register with us”, which comes as no surprise given the volatility of the current market and the elevated level of staff movement in the industry.


From slick psychological science to sticky tape. If you’re occupying a High Street position, your competitors will be close by, meaning other agents are probably walking past your office.

For many, the thought of leaving their current role doesn’t occur until they see a better offer so if they catch sight of a poster in your window, it may prompt them to dust off their CV.

We put an A frame board outside the office when we need new staff. It’s cheap and you’re likely to attract local staff with the local knowledge agents require. Simon Duce, ARPM.

Simon Duce imageAt ARPM Outsourced Lettings Support – a provider of property management to the lettings industry – Managing Director, Simon Duce puts an A frame board on the pavement outside his office when he’s looking for new staff. “It’s unusual but cheap and we only need one or two successful candidates from this method for it to be very cost effective.”

Another plus point of advertising this way is the catchment – you’re more likely to attract local staff willing to travel to the office and those with the level of local knowledge agents require.


Anthony Hesse imageSadly the allure of agency seems to be on the wane, reflected in findings by Anthony Hesse, Managing Director at property recruitment agency, Property Personnel, “We monitor all candidate applications and our figures confirm there has been about a 55 per cent drop in the number of people looking to get into estate agency since 2016, and the lack of applicants coincides with experienced staff leaving the industry as they are no longer earning the money they once were.”

We’ve seen a 55 per cent drop in people coming into estate agency, while experienced staff leave as they aren’t earning as much as they were. Anthony Hesse, Property Personnel.

While agency experience used to be the prerequisite for hiring, today’s fabled talent pool may lie outside of property.

Employers casting their net wider have identified other sectors where agents-in- the-making can be found. Charles Robinson, a Director at estate agency Jones Robinson, endorses candidates with call-centre or retail experience, while Anthony Hesse has seen people from the hospitality sector make successful transitions into property.

What these applicants lack in agency experience they make up for in people skills and a willingness to work long or unsocial hours. “It’s all about attitude, drive, determination, likeability and coach-ability,” adds Hesse.

Agents should also seek candidates from Generation Y (and even Generation Z in the form apprentices) as they possess the skills needed as property marketing moves deeper into the digital space. The challenge is how to tempt Millennials into estate agency.


If you’re offering a decent wage but can’t fill the vacancy, consider whether your office culture, brand image and rewards are good enough – especially if you’re looking to add Millennials to your team.

“Whilst the perception is that money is the main motivator, statistics from applicants interviewed via LCA confirm that job satisfaction, recognition and company culture are more important to most than money,” says Lynne Cannell.

While you don’t have to rush out and buy a ping pong table, it is very clear that a positive office vibe and employment perks are just as good for retaining existing staff as they are for attracting new team members – think a generous holiday allowance, family friendly rotas and prize incentives.


Newspapers are out, social media is in. For Broom, it’s LinkedIn that’s proving the social media star. His recruitment agency cherry picks the job adverts it promotes, preferring to ‘mine’ the site for talent instead: Newspapers are less effective and social media is in.

For Broom, it’s LinkedIn that’s proving the social media star. His recruitment agency chooses a selection of job adverts it promotes, preferring to search the site for talent instead, “We’re increasingly filling roles via LinkedIn as we find it’s designed more for business than the other social media networks, where people may be looking for friend connections as opposed to looking for job opportunities.

“This year to date, we’ve placed eight times more people via LinkedIn than last year, and that’s largely due to our consultants who scan LinkedIn for suitable talent, matching their skills and experience to roles by hand.”

Agents also have to fill those essential admin, part time and weekend roles, and success in this area can come via the ‘share’ facility on Facebook – especially if a page has a local, loyal following. “Our biggest challenge is recruiting part time and weekend people,” says Alan Robinson, co-founder of The Robinson Jackson Group.

“Although we still advertise each vacancy on our own website, we replicate the advert on our Group Facebook page and ask the staff at the branch concerned to share the vacancy to their personal pages too.

“As our mantra is to employ local people first, we know our staff’s Facebook connections are highly relevant.

“Our staff often tag friends who they think will be a good fit for the job – it’s a great way of organically growing our workforce at no cost.”


Charles Robinson imageTo the employee this is flattering heading hunting. To your rival it may be unethical. Yet making an approach to a worker from another estate agent may be your quickest route to the perfect candidate. While many are uncomfortable with poaching as a recruitment solution, Charles Robinson takes a different view, “If agents don’t look after their staff they deserve to lose them, and a tough market can lead to the best people becoming disenchanted as agents cut back on training and development.”

If agents don’t look after their staff they deserve to lose them and a tough market can lead to the best people becoming disenchanted. Charles Robinson, Jones Robinson.

There may be opportunities to lure people from their current roles for the bold but poaching should come with a health warning. It can damage brands, ruin a local reputation and prove to be a double-edged sword if others try and tempt your own staff away.

There may be opportunities to lure people from their jobs, but poaching should come with a health warning – it can damage brands and ruin your reputation.

Charles, however, is a man who walks the walk. His current marketing campaign is based around staff longevity and with the average length of service at Jones Robinson standing at 15 years, he must be doing something right for his staff to resist outside advances or moving on.


Career progression is often lauded in the initial recruitment advert but how can an agent ensure they’re moving up the ranks? “If a candidate comes to us looking for a new job purely for career progression, we recommend they speak to their exiting employer before they commence a job search elsewhere,” says Hesse.

Internal promotion has serious upsides for all involved, and employers who promote from within almost always save time and money. Candidates coming from other estate agents will be susceptible to ‘counter offers’ from their existing employer – especially in a climate where companies want to hold on to their best staff. For ambitious agents, knowing a business intimately and being able to demonstrate a successful in-house track record will always give them the edge over outside candidates.

For agents looking to spread their wings, the unanimous advice from recruitment agencies is to refine your CV. Bullet point agency-relevant skills, responsibilities and duties; list jobs in chronological order – most recent first; don’t fill more than two pages and, finally, check and double check for mistakes.

October 19, 2018

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