Published on Connect.Media
August 17, 2016
By Dennis Kaiser
There are a host of opportunities for Millennials in the commercial real estate sector. These range from analysts and associates on the development side of the industry, to assistant project managers, project engineers, project managers and assistant superintendents on the construction management side. There’s also opportunities with architecture firms, as well as at management and brokerage companies.
In Connect Media’s latest installment of 3 CRE Questions, Kipp Gillian of Gillian Executive Search, Inc., who recruits nationally for CRE roles, shares advice for Millennials considering a career in the industry.
Q. How should Millennials approach the CRE industry?
A. Millennials should approach the industry with respect and gratitude for the opportunities that greet them. The industry is fighting for candidates at this level, which shows how lean the bench is for talent with less than 10 years of experience. This does cause some price wars in which Millennial-level candidates are learning to shop their offers. Now, I’m all for negotiating an offer, but Millennials need to be wise. Just because another company will pay you more, doesn’t always mean that’s the place you’ll want to hang your hat. You need to have some humility realizing that, as I always tell candidates at this level, “The money will come later. You need to gain the experience now.” Look at a company’s reputation on the street, look at their leadership and their history in the marketplace, and ask yourself “What can I learn in this position, and can I grow here?”
Q. Are there different or unique skill-sets required to succeed in the CRE industry, compared to say the tech or entertainment industries? How do Millennials skill-sets fit in, or will they need to add skills? What are their biggest challenges?
A. Absolutely. Real Estate is the oldest profession in the world, and it is a highly competitive industry. It moves fast, and has very little patience for those that do not constantly perfect their craft. Real Estate requires a full 360-degree skill set. Almost every position in CRE requires an individual to work creatively, to be highly intelligent in their analysis, be socially able to pitch their ideas to win over a crowd, and then manage their project to a successful completion.
Millennials have naturally harnessed technology in every aspect of their lives, and that skill-set will be very advantageous as real estate companies continue to modernize. My biggest concern for the Millennials is the lack of direct engagement. I feel they should all harness the real life social aspects of the generations before them. I’ve noticed that my phone rings less these days because more and more candidates will shyly send me emails, in lieu of picking up the phone and giving themselves the opportunity to introduce themselves properly. They all have the gift of rapidly improving technology, but that technology does not replace the ability to properly make an introduction, pitch an idea or lead a meeting. My recommendation to all of them is to, if possible, shadow a senior executive and pay close attention to how they interact with clients and opportunities.
Q. What sets Millennials apart from previous generations in the workplace? How should companies adjust to this new workforce that brings different values, allegiances, and sense of purpose?
A. Prior to the recession, candidates at this level had a braver view of the world. Why wouldn’t they? I mean the Great Recession had not happened yet, and money was flowing fast and cheap. Projects where abound, and every sector was moving at a feverish pace. Those candidates were more inclined to make career moves and to take bolder chances. There were often grand rewards for doing so.
These days, candidates in the Millennial level are slowly loosening up. They witnessed colleagues, friends and family lose their jobs, and they have not forgotten it. Therefore, they have all been grateful for the jobs that they have and are, in general, fairly resistant to change. But the human spirit yearns to be great, to accomplish more and to be tested. I love the fact that Millennial candidates have become more loyal to their employers, but I hope many start to worry less and want to venture out. That’s how a career and one’s self-confidence really grows. Be smart about your choices, but don’t be afraid to test yourself.