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Give us a job guv ... an overview of the commercial property recruitment marketBy: Oliver Argles, Deverell Smith Recruitment

Recruitment needs for the country’s surveying firms have continued to oscillate considerably over the past five years. At its high point, before Lehman Brothers collapsed, commercial property was awash with cheap money that fed its way through the market and ensured that property related businesses were usually optimistic and opportunistic regarding their needs for new staff and their ability to keep hold of those that they employed. Unfortunately, now because of the double dip recession, today’s world is remarkably different.

With several of the major national consultancies having either merged or closed underperforming offices, the current job market is trying. Vacancies are arising sporadically and while the majority of people that we speak to are generally positive about the future, this positivity doesn’t often translate to immediate additional hiring needs. Costs must be kept to a minimum and thus only critical hires have been or are being made. Those opportunities that do arise are exceptionally competitive with candidates coming from several areas:

a) Those that are looking for a step up and career progression.

b) Candidates looking for new opportunities who are disillusioned with their current employers and will thus take a similar role

c) Candidates who are unemployed and thus looking for a new role.

Thus the competitiveness of the market has ensured that employers can usually be very precise in what they are looking for.

Graduates looking to get into a role that can provide training for their APC face an even tougher task, with the major consultancies in London having drastically reduced their intake over the past five years (although the numbers that they have taken on for September 2011 and September 2012 has shown an increase in this). This has meant that those seeking their first roles have had to look at opportunities throughout the country, increasing the candidate pool in the regions at this level. However, the lure of London will always ensure that once people have qualified there will be a proportion of them who look to relocate to the capital. This in turn frees up new positions for graduates and less experienced hires within regional firms.

Salaries, on the other hand, have to a larger extent remained constant with the levels that we have seen previously. Companies that are hiring do not want to underpay their staff. While the salaries may be less at each level the further away you are from London, they are still relatively consistent and have not drastically changed.

One area that hasn't changed is from the candidate perspective. By and large, when seeking a new opportunity, they are still looking for the key indicators that they were before the recession hit. These include salaries that are commensurate with experience, career progression and job location. Are candidates prepared to take an opportunity where the commute will considerably reduce their work life balance? I don’t think they are. Location and the ease by which someone can travel to their place of work is still a major issue when dealing with regional recruitment.

It may sound obvious, but having the right experience is key to securing a new role. In today’s market, employers are very definite about what they are looking for; two major factors, age and sex play no part in this. Employers will generally not hire someone for a senior surveyor position (for example) who has previously been a senior associate at another firm; it can affect the team structure and the dynamic within a business.

While the summer is usually relatively quiet, I would suggest that the mood among employers is cautiously optimistic. Areas such as corporate recovery, management and valuations are expected to provide the majority of our instructions throughout the rest of the year, these we believe will come from the bigger consultancies that look to increase revenue and take market share. Within regional surveying firms the market for new hires does appear to be getting better with a higher degree of opportunities arising.

Oliver Argles, Deverell Smith Recruitment

About the author

Oliver Argles is the Principal Consultant for Commercial Property at Deverell Smith Recruitment. He joined DSR in 2011 to launch the firm's Commercial and General Practice Department. Oliver enjoys all sport and has a mid-teen golf handicap. In a recent, friendly but competitive asparagus eating competition, he consumed 54 stalks.

Features July 2012

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