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Blog: Oliver Argles, Deverell Smith Recruitment4th September 2012

In a previous article for Property News (Give us a job guv...July 2012) I concluded that the mood among employers was cautiously optimistic and that unless something drastic happened in the wider economy, then there would be an increase in the number of opportunities from September through to the end of 2012.

This time last year we saw a strong appetite for additional recruitment within surveying firms and while that dampened at the beginning of this year and has remained stagnant through a typical British summer, I believe that surveying firms will look to increase headcount in Q3.

If this optimistic view materialises, it may well present a problem that has been inevitable since 2009, when surveying firms made significant cuts across graduates, semi-qualified surveyors and, in some cases, recently qualified surveyors. Which is a lack of candidates at surveyor and senior surveyor level.

During the past three years, it has been well documented how few graduates were being taken on at the larger surveying firms. Property has always been a well regarded profession and the popularity of degrees at the likes of Reading and Oxford Brookes has not diminished, despite the downturn that the industry has faced since 2008.

When I first started in recruitment in 2005, candidates who worked in areas like valuation and management were a scarce commodity and clients would often move quickly and offer above market rate salaries in order to secure their services and I believe that this could materialise again.

The two main reasons for this are:

a) There are fewer candidates in this sector at surveyor/senior surveyor level than there has been for over five years  

b) A large proportion of surveyors are looking to move client side.

The appeal of moving to a property company, fund manager or family office has always held strong with young ambitious candidates who dream of being the next Mike Hussey, Raymond Mould and Patrick Vaughan. They often don’t want to change consultancies for a similar role, they will either stay in an area such as valuations and rise up the ranks or look to utilise their experience and become the client.

This in turn will present consultancies with a problem that is of their own making. The process of becoming qualified is long, hard work and can’t be fast tracked, so unless surveying firms start adding more numbers to their graduate intake soon, this problem will gradually become more significant.

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