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Commentary by Don Kottick

RISMEDIA, May 6, 2008-In our fast moving society, nothing stays static for long and this has become very apparent in the real estate industry. Back in 1983, prior to the National Association of Realtor bylaw restricting the solicitation of agents by competing brokers, agent recruitment was practically non-existent. With the dissolution of the restrictive bylaw, one of the early pioneers to emerge was Carol Johnson, now President of the Recruiting Network Pipeline, who is largely responsible for clearing the path of what is now known as Real Estate Recruiting.

Initially, the task of recruiting was a secondary role filled by either the office manager or the broker. The majority of this focus was placed on new agent recruitment with very little effort placed on recruiting experienced agents. Over time, the importance of the recruiting role increased, and in some larger organizations, a dedicated recruiter was brought onboard. The typical profile of this individual was usually a former sales representative with a bubbly, cheerleader personality, who smiled and charmed the prospects into the fold.

In the last few years, we have seen the emergence of a new profile for the real estate recruiter. This individual tends to come to the table with a record of experiential learning, a good understanding of business, and the associated acumen. The vocabulary of these individuals includes words like metric-driven, accountability, pipeline activity, recruiting milestones and hiring ratios. The old cheerleader has been replaced or has subsequently moved on; and we now see the arrival of recruitment systems and standardized processes to improve recruiting efficiency.

Liz Boone, Senior Account Executive with AlignMark, formerly a recruiter, did not fit the mold of the old style recruiter as a result of her innovative strategies and techniques for lead generation and prospect management. Boone now educates and consults recruiters and managers on systems, procedures and processes to drive prospects into their pipelines.

The emergence of this “New Age” recruiter has driven the need for an understanding of selection systems, assessments, hiring standards and practices, online recruitment techniques and practices, social networking, and online conversion rates. Various brokerage operations now have teams of recruiters that are specialized into both new prospect and experienced agent recruitment. It is not uncommon to see a recruiter with a Masters Degree such as Rod Peters, Senior Manager, Career Advancement Division for Metrobrokers GMAC from Atlanta. Peters’ focus is entirely on cultivating and recruiting the experienced agent market segment. In another example, Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, brought Kim Hudson on board, a former teacher, National Volleyball Champion and Division I Coach of Year, as their Vice President of Recruiting, responsible for transforming their recruitment initiative spanning six states.

Reaction time is another aspect of the recruiting process that has changed since the early days of the cheerleader recruiter. Darrel Hoover, recruiting director for Prudential Gardner in New Orleans, ensures that all the managers in their operation respond to online and voice based leads within a predetermined time after receipt of the message. Prudential Gardner has subsequently implemented accountability measures to ensure that this practice is adhered to by the managers.

The Real Estate Recruiting Network Conference, in Scottsdale in the spring of 2008, brought to light the inclusion of mergers and acquisitions into the recruitment arena. Steve Reibel, senior vice president with The Keyes Company out of Florida enlightened the attendees on growing a brokerage through the acquisition of other competing firms utilizing creative and innovative methods. Reibel heads up the recruitment effort at The Keyes Company and is responsible for instituting metric based tracking for the company’s 30 branch recruiters and the central recruiting staff.

The release of AlignMark’s iNTELAGENT product provided one centralized online system to track, manage and incubate the recruiting pipeline for both new and experienced agents. Dr. Cabot Jaffee, president and CEO stated, “We are seeing the system continually evolve with additional reporting and accountability measures being added with each new release”. Prior to this application, recruiters tracked their pipelines and communicated with their prospects through a combination of online and desktop applications such as EXCEL, Outlook and other contact management systems.

The proliferation of technology in real estate is coming to fruition in recruiting as well. Lucy Costa, a Career Counselor with Signature Service GMAC, along with a number of other brokerages has started to conduct virtual career sessions where prospects can view webinars to passively attend the career event. Using technology to conduct these sessions allows the prospect to extend the passive stage of their career assessment process and potentially increasing the size of the pipeline for the brokerage.

The focus in recruitment is shifting to the Generation Y demographic as the Baby Boomers move closer to retirement. This shift requires recruiters have a deeper understanding of technology, specifically Web 2.0 applications and social networking systems. Do not be surprised to see recruiters initially dialoging via text messaging with these individuals. Recruiters must now understand the psychology of the Generation Y, not only to recruit this segment of the population, but also to ensure retention.

The New Age Recruiters must be knowledgeable on the theory of employment branding and how their organizations are truly differentiated in the market place. The value proposition to a potential recruit must be clearly defined and communicated by the recruiter. A new prospect has many career options and is probably highly educated, so they are looking for substance as opposed to being charmed by a recruiter.

The revolution started in 1983 has come a long way and it is by no means over. The combined impact of the Internet, the demography of the population, the introduction of Web 2.0, the increased adoption of technology, the move towards to accountability and structured processes has all fuelled the “New Age” of recruitment and the evolution of the real estate recruiter.

Don Kottick is the Vice President of Products & Services for AlignMark.

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