Tag: executive recruitment

The Most Important Career Skills You Didn’t Study in College

The Most Important Career Skills You Didn’t Study in College

A recent study exposed a huge gap in the expectations of employers and entry-level job candidates when it comes to the characteristics they value in the workplace. An overwhelming 93 percent of surveyed employers weigh so-called soft skills like problem solving more heavily than academic credentials, while a mere 16 percent of entry-level candidates considered soft skills important. Looking back on the executive positions I’ve filled over the years, I’ve noticed the critical role these professional attributes play in the careers of managers, as well.

Critical Thinking

This is a classic example of an extremely valuable skill set that’s rarely reflected in resume bullet points or job titles. Yet the higher up the job ladder you climb, the more an employer expects you to make competent decisions that affect the company. Leading real estate firms don’t just look for executives who can hire employees and ensure things get done on time. They need people with the capacity to reason their way through unexpected problems and opportunities. This makes it even more crucial to point out specific decisions you’ve made and problems you’ve solved in past jobs when courting potential employers.


A great idea is useless if people can’t quite wrap their heads around what you’re talking about. Companies don’t expect their leaders to be English scholars with half-finished novels in their desk drawers. But they do need people who can get their ideas across in a way that doesn’t seed confusion and misunderstandings. Practices that demonstrate this skill set can be as simple as giving a second read to emails, memos and presentations to be sure your intentions are clear and the text is free of basic errors. Respect language and seek continuous improvement in how you use it. This might seem rudimentary, but just consider how many times you’ve seen “excellent communication skills” required in a job description. Keep in mind that effective communication now goes beyond traditional inter-office messages. The ability to convey ideas succinctly through texting and social media has also become invaluable. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like may have changed the format of our communication in the last five years, but keep in mind that their effective use requires more writing than ever. Regardless of the medium, persuasive written communication will set you apart.


It’s not enough, though, to be a smooth talker. I don’t know how many construction-related positions I’ve filled where employers emphasized the ability to communicate well, not just with executives, but also with site foremen, subcontractors, tradesmen and municipal officials. Hiring managers know first hand that you can’t manage a large team unless you feel at ease with its members at all levels. That requires not just confidence, but a sense of humility as well.

For more than 20 years, Christopher Frederick has helped match the skills of high-value executives with leading companies in real estate. Visit our website at www.chrisfred.com where you can find exclusive job listings for real estate professionals and read more about our one-of-a-kind approach to executive recruitment.

Ambition’s Back: A Rebounding Market Calls for Career Confidence

Ambition’s Back: A Rebounding Market Calls for Career Confidence

It’s taken seven long years, but the shadow of the financial crisis has finally receded from American real estate. Residential property values have seen sustained increases across major markets. Commercial activity has picked up, and in many cities builders are scrambling to meet a significant under-supply of multifamily housing. For professionals in the industry, guarded optimism has given way to justified confidence about the future of their careers.

Good News for Builders

Recent job statistics from the Associated General Contractors of America back up the trend. April saw the construction workforce expand in 220 markets compared to the same month the year before. Employment remained stable in another 49 markets and declined in 70, partly because of reduced spending on government projects and the impact from Hurricane Sandy. Job gains ranged between 10 percent and 11 percent in the greater Los Angeles area and came in at 9 percent in Atlanta and Dallas. A handful of smaller markets experienced a small gold rush, with the construction workforce increasing by 42 percent in El Centro, Calif., 35 percent in the Steubenville, Ohio, region and 27 percent in both Pascagoula, Miss., and Springfield, Ill. These numbers don’t just represent tradesmen. In my recruiting practice, I continue to see consistent demand for construction professionals in purchasing, acquisition and development, regional/divisional leadership, investment management and other areas.

Make it yours

Confidence is empowering. It helps people work harder, take risks and broaden what they consider possible. An optimistic future for real estate should inspire those who work within it to seize the potential for advancement and professional growth that might have been delayed during the recession. Now is the time to redefine your goals for the next five years. How can you assert yourself in your current position to make them happen? Who in your professional network can help you? Is the organization you belong to the best place to grow? A rejuvenated market affords us the chance to explore these questions to an extent that wasn’t possible in the fairly recent past. As you do, remember: Mindset matters. I’ve found that success isn’t necessarily a product of one-off opportunities, but rather the result of decisions we make based on the circumstances at hand. In real estate, at least, today’s circumstances are as promising as they’ve been in a long time.

For more than 20 years, Christopher Frederick has helped executives and the companies they lead seize opportunities in real estate. Visit our website at www.chrisfred.com where you can find exclusive job listings for real estate professionals and read more about our one-of-a-kind approach to executive recruitment.

Hot Jobs – Especially in These Fields, Real Estate Pros Are In Demand

Hot Jobs – Especially in These Fields, Real Estate Pros Are In Demand

Things are moving again in real estate. Capital, consumers and employees have flowed back into the market over the last year. Companies are positioning themselves to meet the demand for housing and commercial space pent up over the last five years as the days of scarce financing and weak economic growth finally recede. Likewise, competition has once again heated up for leaders in highly skilled positions.

Hot Jobs

While it’s far from the only sector experiencing growth right now, construction has emerged as one of the most active areas of my recruiting practice in recent months. Professionals with land expertise are particularly in demand right now, with managers in purchasing coming in a close second. In commercial and multi-family real estate, I’ve seen consistent demand for acquisition professionals. Higher up the chain, I’ve also been filling positions for housing construction executives at the division level and regional property managers.

Now’s the Time

There’s wide demand for leadership across real estate specialties as companies rebuild their ranks to make the most of the ongoing recovery. For the professionals who dug in during the lean years, tackling new duties and widening their areas of expertise, 2014 is the year to think proactively about what’s next. Consider how you want to advance in the next five years while preparing yourself mentally to respond to unexpected job opportunities. Look to your former colleagues, peers and superiors. Are they jumping ship? Are they moving up or leveraging the demand for their skills to negotiate better compensation? Competition for talent will continue to ramp up in the foreseeable future, making this a great time to advance from a position if it no longer meets your professional needs.

Build Your Team

For hiring managers, this competition will make it essential to build a good team now, keeping in mind the potential for growth in the next five years. Widen your sphere of contacts, stay attuned to the professional development of longtime employees and keep an eye out for people who can fill positions requiring high-demand skills before those openings emerge.

Often, that process is frustrated by the deluge of off-the-mark applications generated by standard job advertising online. That’s why Christopher Frederick maintains a network of only real estate professionals and screens qualified applicants one-on-one for every position we recruit. We can quickly promote your critical openings by drawing from a database more than 200,000-strong, narrowed by specialty and location. To learn more about how we can save you time, money and work during your next executive search at no upfront cost, contact Chris Hingle at chingle@chrisfred.com.

For more than two decades, Christopher Frederick has helped place leaders with some of the largest companies in real estate. Visit our website at www.chrisfred.com where you can find exclusive job listings for real estate executives and read more about our one-of-a-kind approach to executive recruitment.

Taking Stock and Giving Thanks – A Holiday Greeting from Chris Hingle

Taking Stock and Giving Thanks – A Holiday Greeting from Chris Hingle

As the holidays arrive and afford us the downtime to contemplate the last year, I’m struck by how much we have to be thankful for in the real estate industry. The economy remains fragile, yet we seem to have reached the end of the worst downturn the majority of us have ever experienced in our careers. We’ve worked long and hard to stay atop the housing market as it has rapidly evolved, and for many it’s finally paying off.

Just look at the numbers: October’s home sales were up 21.6 percent, year over year, despite rising interest rates. For the same month, the unemployment rate in the real estate sector fell below 6 percent. Unemployment in construction remains higher but continues to drop to levels not seen since 2008. All of this is driven by recovering home prices and double-digit increases in housing starts in markets across the country.

In my work as a recruiter, I’ve had the pleasure of working with both the industry’s existing leadership and its rising talent as homebuilders, commercial real estate firms and others restart their hiring. Engaging with these truly driven and knowledgeable professionals this year has left me absolutely confident they will capitalize on today’s growth and lead the industry to a sustainable, lucrative future. To all of you I’ve had the chance to correspond with this year, I wanted to say “thank you” for letting me be a part of your professional development.

Even as excited as I am about the prospects for 2014, the things I’m most grateful for this season are not professional but personal. This year, I’ve been privileged to watch my daughter enter college and to visit my own tight-knit classmates at The Citadel in South Carolina. I’ve had the chance to enjoy time with my family in Houston and New Orleans. I’ve also had the opportunity to deepen relationships with the outstanding professionals I’ve worked with over the years. The downturn drove home the fact that relationships are the most lasting, most important blessings that I’m thankful for each day. With better times on the horizon, that hasn’t changed.

I hope this finds you and your loved ones enjoying this season and looking forward to a prosperous 2014.

Happy Holidays,

Chris Hingle
Principal, Christopher Frederick Search Consultants

Big Data or Big Mistake? How a Personal Approach to Recruiting Can Beat Out Automated Screening

Big Data or Big Mistake? How a Personal Approach to Recruiting Can Beat Out Automated Screening

When it comes to creating a pool of potential job candidates, some employers think bigger is better. Large companies will often make use of their electronic application systems to gather any and all resumes that come their way on a continual basis. The logic for doing so is sound, as personnel departments can then analyze the resultant data for insight into their hiring programs while building a seemingly endless bank of potential employees. In practice, though, such automation is only useful to a point and can actually hinder the very personal process of building a successful team.

To start with, resume-reading algorithms are not perfect, even when it comes to basic sorting. I once read of a job candidate who found he’d been marked as unqualified by a computer program despite a relevant degree from Stanford. The full name of that school is Leland Stanford Junior University, but the computer didn’t understand that Mr. Stanford shared a name with his father, assuming instead that the applicant had only been to junior college. It might be impossible to review hundreds of applications in a timely fashion without some form of automation. But a better solution is to create a smaller applicant pool by tailoring job solicitations to a specific group of the most qualified people. This approach is also more fair to those searching for jobs. Many have grown wary of online applications after submitting them by the dozens and hearing nothing in return, potentially because employers solicited applications on popular job boards as a way to gauge potential response, rather than to actually fill a position. In an environment where candidates feel they are casting their resumes into a lottery drawing, they are less likely to apply for the most appropriate positions or become motivated to pursue a particular employer. Be upfront about the position, its requirements and your hiring time frame. Serious candidates will see you are reaching out to them in good faith and will take extra steps to show that they have the most to offer.

For example, my executive recruitment firm approaches only candidates with demonstrated leadership in real estate, narrowing our target audience further by geographic area. Our digital network has nearly 200,000 members, but it’s our seasoned recruiting expertise that makes that network effective. While we make use of technology to help reach the best candidates, we then review responses individually, interacting with applicants and conducting the one-on-one work needed to find the right personalities and knowledge to fit our clients’ needs. It’s the second part of that process that computers cannot replace. Don’t make big mistakes when it comes to your big data while hiring. Digital technology provides today’s managers with an array of powerful tools, but using them well requires discretion and the ability to evaluate candidates as people whose potential value is not always obvious on a spreadsheet.

Over more than two decades, Christopher Frederick has helped some of the biggest names in real estate hire the people key to their success. To learn more about how we leverage our digital network with our extensive recruitment experience, contact Chris Hingle at chingle@chrisfred.com. Or visit our website at www.chrisfred.com where you can find exclusive job listings for real estate executives.

The Pay Play: Salary Negotiation in 2013

The Pay Play: Salary Negotiation in 2013

Salary negotiation is a high-class problem. By the time it becomes a concern, a job candidate has surpassed the most rigorous tests an employer put in place to find the best fit for a job. Yet discussions over pay and benefits can still derail what would otherwise amount to a win-win between an executive and a company that values his or her expertise. Today’s compensation negotiations for real estate professionals reflect legitimate changes in the market following a tough downturn. Some companies no longer have the resources to chase talent that comes to the table unwilling to budge on pay. Most hiring managers still care more about what that person can do for their organization than about wringing the biggest savings from a new hire. Nonetheless, it’s important to keep the company’s needs in mind while angling for the best possible deal.

The basics still apply:

Information remains the most valuable tool in any negotiation. Candidates are well-served to find out as much as they can about a company’s pay policies, either by hitting up professional contacts or by conducting research online through sites like Glassdoor.com. If you know the salary range for a position, that provides the opportunity to “anchor” the negotiation at the top of that scale during preliminary discussions. Likewise, don’t shoot high above what you know a company has been willing to pay in the past, as this may turn hiring managers off completely.

Prior to formal discussions, it’s also important to know exactly what you want. Think through your minimum acceptable salary for the position, as well as which benefits and perks you consider most significant, whether they relate to bonus potential, flexible scheduling or retirement contributions. Just as important, prepare in your mind the relevant project experience, industry knowledge, contacts and other traits valued by the employer that you can use to justify the compensation you want.

Times are different:

If you’re in a position to discuss an executive pay package, you already know what to do at a negotiating table. The problem facing some companies and potential hires, though, is a misalignment of their expectations. A recovering market has renewed optimism about future business and personal prosperity, yet real estate companies remain cautious in the near term. Emboldened candidates realize that it’s no longer 2009, but companies know it’s not 2006 either. Too often, a promising negotiation can fall apart because a hard-bargaining candidate can’t meet the numbers needed by a company, sometimes when the difference amounts to a small fraction of the salary under discussion. Candidates should take an objective look at the company’s current business. Is it recovering? Is it thriving? It is somewhere in between? If the future offers greater potential than the next quarter, you and your potential employer may be well-served to steer negotiations to long-term incentives that hinge on the success of both you and the company. In any case, it’s more important than ever to enter salary negotiations with a clear picture of both your needs and those of your potential employer.

For more than two decades, Christopher Frederick has helped connect real estate talent to the companies and positions that match their potential. To learn more about our unique, digital approach to executive recruitment, contact Chris Hingle at chingle@chrisfred.com. Or visit our website at www.chrisfred.com where you can find exclusive job listings for real estate executives.

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