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Making sense of new agent recruiting in today’s market

Real estate brokerage leaders must recruit those leaving the workforce due to a shift in priorities.

It’s no surprise that real estate organizations have grown substantially over the last two years. Home prices have been growing quickly, interest rates have remained at historic lows, and the media frequently touts the financial advantages of home ownership.

During the same period, many workers have experienced a disruption in their employment due to the pandemic. Some of this disruption was forced on individuals (furloughs, layoffs, health concerns, etc.), but much of it seems to be happening as workers reassess their employment status. 

Although there has been much churn already, researchers estimate that over 40% of the workforce plans to voluntarily change jobs in the next two years. Where are these individuals looking to find employment utopia? We think they are prime candidates for real estate. But, the key in new agent recruiting is to never stop and build a system that allows continual talent attraction.

Mismanaging an Influx of New Talent

As many individuals sought to enter the industry over the last two years, real estate companies have thrown open their doors and gladly hired them. The number of real estate agents has swollen to an all-time high, and it’s become increasingly difficult for these new agents to gain traction.

As a result, the average income of agents dropped 13% last year, and may continue to decline as more new agents come into the industry. 

This is a mismanagement of talent. Rather than using the nationwide employment churn to upgrade the success profile of the average agent, most brokerages are diluting the talent pool with unqualified individuals.

Managing Talent Like a Professional

There are professional talent managers in every industry. They don’t carry this job title or wear name tags, but they consistently hire better than their peers and build teams full of individuals who perform significantly above industry averages.

These professional talent managers see the churn in the employment market as a great opportunity to capture high-potential individuals, but they see hiring through a different lens. If you’re aspiring to become a professional talent manager, here are some of the things you’ll need to do differently.

Never stop hiring. 

Many offices (virtual or physical) are already near capacity. There is a tendency to think, “I need to stop hiring so I can better train, coach, and manage the agents I already have on my team.”

This sounds reasonable on the surface, but professional talent mangers know that growing a high-performing team is not a static process. There needs to be a constant flow of new players on and off the team to find the true high performers.

Think of it like a professional baseball team. If you have a mediocre team, does it make sense to abandon your farm system? Up-and-coming talent will always be part of the equation for the successful teams of the future. So, always handling new agent recruiting means always bringing in talent.

Hire to upgrade before expanding.

When aggressively growing an organization, many managers have a “more is better” mentality.   Professional talent managers have a “better is better” mentality. They first think, “If I’m going to hire someone, who is this person going to replace?” The upgrade mindset forces you to focus on quality and organically raises your hiring standards over time. 

The goal is to get to the place where there is no one left to replace. You’ve built an organization of top-level performers, and any future additions must meet the higher performance bar.

Do you think this can’t be done? I know of one real estate office where the average agent completes 30 transactions per year. And yes, it’s run by a professional talent manager who handles new agent recruiting.

Improve your selection criteria.

Google gets more than one million job applications each year and hires between 4,000 and 6,000 employees. This kind of selectivity doesn’t make sense for real estate companies, but it demonstrates how high-performing companies focus on quality when hiring.

In the professional hiring manager’s mind, not everyone makes the cut. They must meet selection criteria that is well-established and reflective of the desired performance level of the organization.

Your selection criteria can include factors such as work history, interview performance, desired character traits, social network characteristics and capacities, assessment results, and other factors you’ve documented will lead to success.

The goal is not to craft the perfect selection system. It’s to have system you’ve thoughtfully created. Most real estate hiring managers err on the side of not having a selection system at all.

Keep New Hires on a Short Leash

For the professional talent manager, hiring doesn’t end when the new agent recruit comes onboard. It ends when your new hire has gained traction quickly and starts to make a valuable contribution to your team.

For new agents, initial sales may not materialize right away, but revenue-producing lead measures can be tracked and evaluated. If your new hire is not performing these lead measures with more focus, energy, and competency than your average agent, you may have a failed hire.

When poor performance is noted, provide training, set clear expectations, and then release the agent if they can’t meet reasonable expectations.  There is lots of talent available.  It’s better to replace someone early than attempt to push them uphill.

Improving the Caliber of Agents on Your Team

New agents can breathe life and energy into an organization, but they must be naturally talented and have the capacity to exceed the performance level of your existing agents. New agent recruiting isn’t easy. But, the professional talent managers know it’s worth the effort to find them and to keep the imposters from taking up space on the team.

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