When is the best time for an estate agent to recruit new staff? Always!

When is the best time to recruit?

This is not a trick question. Your immediate answer may be, “When I have a vacancy” but if you leave recruitment until you have a real, live vacancy – as most in the industry do – you’re setting yourself up for a hasty and potentially poor recruitment decision.

That’s because you’re painfully aware that every day the hole in your team goes unfilled you are losing money. Without a full team to drum up new instructions, conduct market appraisals, accompany viewings and negotiate sales, you will inevitably be missing opportunities.

It’s precisely because you’re aware of the urgent need to fill that vacancy, particularly in the current tough market, that recruitment mistakes can be made. With the clock ticking, there’s a temptation to choose “the best of a bad bunch”, even if you have niggling doubts that they are the right person for the job.

If these doubts prove correct, apart from having to waste time repeating the whole process a few months down the line, the cost of that hiring mistake can be costly (Read my January column on the cost of a bad hire).

That is why many recruiters (myself included) extol the virtues of ‘continuous recruitment’.

What this means in practice is that agency bosses should always be recruiting, whether there is a current vacancy or not. I recommend estate agency employers meet at least one person a week every week to build up a talent pipeline and keep in touch with these prospective employees. That way when a vacancy does arise, you have a readymade pool of potential candidates you already know are a good fit who are interested in a career with your company.

This approach has many benefits:

  1. Fill vacancies more quickly

As you’ve invested a little time upfront in building a network of receptive potential employees, you have a head start rather than starting from scratch. This means your vacancy should be filled more quickly, before productivity and sales take a hit.

  1. Keep existing staff motivated

When your team suddenly has to take on an increased workload to compensate for being a head down, morale can dive. Being able to hit the ground running when you have an unexpected vacancy can help you plug the hole more quickly and reduce the burden on remaining staff.

  1. More cost-efficient

With the traditional recruitment model, in Rayner Personnel’s experience, you have a roughly 60% chance of success. This is because as humans, we tend to rely largely on gut instinct and base decisions on appearance, speech or gravitas alone, often recruiting in our own image.

This subjective recruitment process often consists of some rudimentary CV screening and, at best, a couple of rushed face-to-face or Skype interviews with a time-poor branch manager or director.

In contrast, a strategy of continuous recruitment enables you to objectively assess potential candidates through psychometric testing that evaluates behavioural traits and competencies. This can bring the success rate up to 96%.

With the cost of a bad hire typically averaging 3.5 x salary, the cost-savings in terms of the recruiter’s fees, management time and training invested in an individual who is the wrong fit can be considerable. And that is without the human cost to the unfortunate employee.

  1. Raises your company’s profile

When you have time on your side, you can cast your net wider. Continuous recruitment can be carried out using social media channels, which apart from the staff time involved in managing your firm’s presence, are largely free.

This proactive approach boosts your firm’s visibility and reputation. By continually reaching out to individuals with the skills your business needs you’ll also be spreading awareness of your business as an employer to a wider audience.

The recruitment model hasn’t changed fundamentally for decades, but I firmly believe continuous recruitment is the future and will benefit clients and candidates alike.

* Joshua Rayner heads up Rayner Personnel

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One Comment

  1. CountryLass

    But what about the applicant who is wasting time and money by applying and interviewing for a job that does not exist, and may not exist for 6 months or more, when they need a job now? I appreciate the ‘pipeline’ for an employer is a good thing, but if I (as I did for one interview) bought a new shirt, arranged childcare, travelled for 45 minutes, paid for parking, did the interview and travelled back home and then found out that the job didn’t actually exist? I would be annoyed! As I was when it happened to a job someone from your company put me forward for… In your consultants defence, I don’t think they realised that the client was considering delaying starts etc for 6 months.

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