New Skills for a New Year

The past year was a strong one for real estate, and that momentum seems likely to carry into 2015 and beyond. With business on the upswing, this is the time to bring your career strategy to life. An expanding business often provides avenues to gain new experience or advance into more challenging roles as competition builds for talent. At the same time, it’s important not to overlook the importance of education in making the most of career opportunities that emerge in the new year.

Always Ask

Even in favorable business conditions, it’s easy for employee development to go overlooked by executives managing more immediate concerns. Don’t assume someone else will find time to advance your professional priorities, even if it’s part of his or her job. At the same time, you also shouldn’t assume your superiors aren’t interested in building your knowledge just because they haven’t dropped an educational opportunity on your desk recently. Keep an eye out for classes, conferences and seminars relevant to your job and the position you want to earn down the line. As budgets improve, it becomes easier to ask for the time and money required to pursue additional education. Doing so shows initiative and can also offer a gentle reminder of where you’d like your career to move in the future.


Spend much time on airplanes? Commute by rail? Have a few spare hours in your week to commit to personal and professional improvement? It’s never been easier to access a staggering array of classes online. Massive open online courses have made many classrooms at the nation’s top universities available to anyone who wants to log in. While programming and other technology courses tend to draw the most attention, there’s also a surprising range of free courses in management, finance and other fields relevant to a career in real estate.

Want to know more about the basics of corporate finance, marketing or even architectural photography to fill a soft spot on your resume? You might just find an appropriate video course at a modest cost on Or, for more advanced learning, consider the career potential of online coursework or credentials from a relevant professional organization. A membership with the Project Management Institute, for example, costs less than $200 yearly and offers access to networking opportunities and educational resources that include dozens of webinars that can be used to help earn certifications.

Be the Person Who Knows the Software

Occasionally, picking from among well-qualified candidates comes down to which one can start the job familiar with that company’s systems. Likewise, team members who can troubleshoot a critical program or train others to use it can quickly become indispensable. While I’ve met few professionals in sales eager to spend a Saturday afternoon exploring their customer relationship management software, showing an interest in it can be an easy way to set yourself apart. If an employer isn’t footing the bill, remote training can be pricey for software like JD Edwards, Yardi or RealPage. But it’s worth considering whether the long-term earnings potential makes it worthwhile if knowledge of a specific system can make jobs available that were previously out of reach.

In the end, outlining educational priorities comes back to setting professional goals and putting in place concrete steps to make them happen. I’m optimistic that 2015 will see a continued recovery that buoys all of us in real estate. The professionals who benefit the most, though, will still be those willing to build their knowledge to match their ambition.

Over more than two decades, Christopher Frederick has helped match the talents of executives with leading companies in real estate. Visit our website at where you can find exclusive job listings for real estate professionals and read more about our one-of-a-kind approach to executive recruitment.