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How has recruitment changed for Real Estate in the “new normal” workplace?


When the Prime Minister made his announcement on 16th March that all non-essential businesses should work from home, it’s fair to say that the majority of people, myself included, expected to be back in the office by now. However, we are now approaching the end of May and it appears that we are no nearer to returning to the office on a full-time basis, as we were in March, hence I ask the question how do we recruit for the “new normal” workplace?

At the commencement of “Lockdown”, many PE Funds, Investment Managers and SWFs took the decision to pause their recruitment plans. This made sense, as deals went on hold, liquidity became an issue and the focus moved to maintaining their current portfolios, rather than new investments. Since then, some firms have adjusted to the “new normal” by recommencing their interview processes. However, the majority have continued to put their processes on hold, many due to the issues with logistics such as the inability to meet face to face, or start in the office.

Many firms have found themselves in this situation therefore I have listed a few points below to consider if you are preparing to commence recruitment:


1. Is this position an immediate requirement?

Before going to market, it is important to assess whether or not this is an immediate or urgent vacancy. If this is not the case, it is important to be transparent from the start. Currently candidates are not having to make excuses to leave their office, therefore it’s the perfect time to network. However, Firms will soon lose credibility if a candidate has 4 interviews and a case study for a role that might exist in Q2 of 2021.

2. Should we mandate multiple recruitment firms?

Following on from my 1st point, if this is an urgent assignment, I always recommend retaining a recruitment firm and during COVID-19, it is no different. The first question candidates ask me is “Are you retained on the search?” If the answer is yes, it automatically entices the candidates’ interests. On the flip side, if you engage 3-4 agencies to search for candidates, it is inevitable that candidates will be contacted on multiple occasions regarding this role, causing it to lose credibility. A Specialist Real Estate recruiter will be in contact on a regular basis with the Real Estate teams of Investment Banks and Buy-side funds, enabling them to provide an excellent shortlist therefore it makes sense to use one firm.


3. How can we recruit someone without meeting face to face?

This is the most common question that my clients have asked over the last couple of months. I understand that this has been a must for many funds, particularly smaller teams but given the “new normal”, there may be difficulties with meeting face to face over the next 6-12 months, perhaps longer. In order, to counteract this firms must be prepared to carry out all recruitment processes remotely. Click here to find out more about video interviewing.


4. How to carry out processes remotely?

Firms that have successfully recruited during this period have put together a straight forward online recruitment process, which generally includes, initial video applications answering set questions, video interviews with senior managers, remote case studies and HR Video conferences to discuss offers. There have been real benefits to this particularly with case studies and modelling tests. Before “Lockdown”, it had been difficult to arrange due to tight schedules but with online assessments, it has made it easier for candidates to complete in their spare time, hence speeding up the process.


5. How to commence employment from home?

We’ve all had to get used to working from home over the last few months and as mentioned, it is likely to be the norm for the foreseeable future. During this period, many firms have been well set up to cater for this, including arranging delivery of work equipment, remote desktop working, regular team video meetings, online payroll, which has enabled candidates to start from home.


6. How do I manage bonuses?

The majority of candidates will wait until bonuses are paid or try to negotiate a sign-on bonus before committing to a new role. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, it is likely that there will be a reduction of bonuses for 2021 therefore many funds are seeing this a very cost-effective time to engage new talent.


Obviously, it is going to take time to adjust to this “new normal” but in my opinion the firms that adjust earliest on the recruitment front, will see a real benefit over the months and years to come. If you would like to discuss any recruitment plans or obtain any guidance on how to approach your next hire, I would be happy to discuss. Please feel free to contact me on Jamie McCord jmccord@leap29.com or call me on +44 (0) 1625 537 555 ext 100.

Also, feel free to check out some of my previous blogs including:

How has COVID-19 changed opportunities for candidates looking to move into Real Estate Private Equity?

Posted by Jamie McCord