Over the last few years, we’ve worked with several real estate hiring managers who insist on seeing a resume before meeting with a candidate. When our account managers ask for an explanation, the conversation usually goes something like this:
"My time is valuable, so I want to make sure the person is both serious and qualified to become a real estate agent.”
One manager recently said:
"If they can't send me a resume, I don't want to waste my time on them."
Is this a good policy? Let’s investigate the pros and cons of this stance.
First consider that every business practice is an expression of various underlying assumptions. From that premise, let’s try to surmise what possible assumptions are being made in the “resume first” stance and then assess their validity.
Assumption #1: Any candidate worth interviewing will have a resume handy and be eager to show it to me before a meeting.
I want you to consider the best people who have entered and thrived in your organization. How many of them would have sent a resume or even had a resume handy when they were first hired? How many of them would have come to an interview if you asked them for one?
It appears to me (for reasons I will go into below) that only the most desperate (and perhaps confused), would feel compelled to bring a resume to the first interview when considering becoming an independent contractor within the real estate industry.
Assumption #2: You interviewing them is more important than them interviewing you.
This assumption is clearly communicated in the request for a resume. In many highly competitive corporate jobs where a salary, benefits, and security are provided, this is certainly to be expected. But, in the real estate industry, there is a different set of expectations.
Most candidates know that becoming a real estate agent means signing up to invest significant resources to become an independent contractor. From this perspective, it only makes sense that the first interview would be a two-way street of reciprocal respect.
Remember, you need great candidates as much as they need you. If, after the first interview, you have doubts about the person’s potential to perform, asking for a resume would seem reasonable. At this juncture, it makes sense to test a weak candidate’s follow-through or investigate their background.
But if you ask a savvy candidate for a resume, you run the risk of alienating them because they are often employed successfully and want to assess you (and the real estate career) before you assess them.
Assumption #3 Your time is more important than their time.
Most working professionals do not have an updated resume in hand. Most people do not prepare a resume until they are unemployed, or think they will soon be unemployed. I know many people who have never needed a resume because their reputation and professional performance speaks for itself.
How do you think the most capable candidates will respond to this request? Do you believe that they will spend the time necessary to prepare a resume just for you? They will only do so if you have earned the right to make such a request. Instead, most candidates will interpret your request in one way: "My time is more important than yours."
Assumption #4: You're in the power position not them.
The very act of requesting a resume communicates a great deal about your assessment (or your insistence) of the balance of power in the relationship. You might as well be saying: "Yes... I think I'm more important than you". Even in competitive corporate America when an important executive is being courted for hiring, the resume is not requested until it makes sense to everyone involved.
In order to attract the best candidates you must not assume this power position. The relationship has to feel peer-to-peer, especially in the first meeting. In my opinion, some managers who request resumes before the first interviews have issues around fearing vulnerability. This technique may help them from exposing this apprehension.
Assumption #5 : You don't expect to interview successful candidates.
This assumption could be based on past experiences of interviewing terrible candidates. The problem with this assumption is that protecting against “wasting time” with unqualified candidates kills the chances of engaging better candidates in the future. It would be similar to a fisherman giving up casting because previous casts were unproductive. Yes, he’ll save a lot of time. But, the chances of catching fish have diminished to zero.
In our experience working with real estate hiring, about one third (33%) of interviews result in an engagement where the managers is truly excited about the candidate’s potential. Of the third who fit into this category, usually one half (50%) of those candidates end up joining their team as an agent. Working backwards on these percentages, it takes an average of six interviews to hire one high-potential “new to real estate” agent.*
If you disagree with my analysis of this problem, don't hesitate to let me know. I have been wrong before and expect I will be again. But, in my view so far, the basic rule of thumb is this:
If you want to attract the best talent to your team, you must treat everyone, initially, like he/she might be the best candidate you've ever seen.
*Note: The overall hire/interview percentage is higher than 17% (1 hire in 6 interviews) for most high- performing real estate organizations. This happens because some of the “not-so-great candidates” also become agents. Overall, high- performing real estate companies see 25% of their total interviews eventually convert to hires. This data is based on the companies who are clients of Tidemark.
Engage in the WorkPuzzle discussion by joining the TMOC private social network. Commenting on a public blog like WorkPuzzle can be a little intimidating, so why not join the discussion inside the privacy of the TMOC discussion group?
By joining TMOC, you'll get to see who else is in the group and your comments will only be seen by those whom you trust. Joining TMOC is quick, easy, and free (no kidding…this takes less than 2 minutes). To get started, click here.
Already of a member of TMOC? If so, join the WorkPuzzle Dialog Group by clicking on the WorkPuzzle Group icon on the left side of your TMOC homepage. Questions? Email the WorkPuzzle editor (email@example.com) and we'll walk through the process.