Agent Recruitment Tips and Strategies in a Tough Real Estate Market

Words of wisdom from Mark Johnson of Recruiting Insight, one of the industry’s top talent experts

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate profession has been changing. As a result, the period from 2019 to the end of 2022 has been an unprecedented roller coaster. Uncertainty and reactions to the pandemic have given way to a real estate boom now threatened by a sharp slowdown in the US economy. We recently spoke with Mark Johnson, co-founder and managing partner of Recruiting Insight, about how recruiting top talent will be affected. We’ve also asked for advice from agencies caught up in a problem where talent and potential likely trump all other partnering and staffing considerations. Here are Mark’s ideas and suggestions.

RealtyBiz: What challenges do you currently see in recruiting for the real estate industry?

Mark Johnson: Several challenges. First, for a few years, the real estate sector has been attracting new agents who are starting their careers in response to the great resignation and the Covid-19 health crisis. Many of these agents need to be more suited to real estate and will re-enter the traditional job market. While this is happening, there is a huge game of musical chairs going on. It takes work for brokers and teams to find and identify agents with real potential. Second, as inventories continue to fall and demand remains strong, the drop in sales will not support the industry in its current configuration. Teams win a greater share of deals, and according to many accounts, up to 30% of NAR members have yet to close a single deal year-to-date. The implication? Understanding retention at a deep level is critical right now. Some teams help the part-time agent thrive, where he could survive solo. Third, capped financial models with agent allocation or equity allocation are a significant strength, making it essential to define your niche and unique value proposition, as well as the associated total addressable market.

RealtyBiz: What are the innovative ways Recruiting Insight helps brokers and teams of all sizes find and recruit qualified real estate sales professionals?

Mark Johnson: As the old saying goes, real estate and recruitment are also local. We offer innovative and proven sourcing for quality candidates leaving their careers. And for experienced agents, the most effective recruiting happens when a hiring manager builds a relationship with a recruiting prospect before they’re hired. Our tools and services help leaders build those relationships, systematically move prospects through a recruiting pipeline, and engage those with the greatest long-term potential. Finally, we are innovating with a product test that will pair newly experienced Solo Agents who would perform better under a team structure.

RealtyBiz: Can you explain the Recruiting Insight process for matching candidates to firms or teams?

Mark Johnson: Recruiting Insight uses a proprietary screening assessment protocol to help managers focus on the most promising prospects. In multiple longitudinal studies, our hiring protocols nearly doubled the percentage of new hires who become top performers and reduced the number of hire failures by 50%.

RealtyBiz: How is Recruiting Insight different from other real estate recruitment companies?

Mark Johnson: Recruitment is a complex problem, and no solution solves everything. Recruiting Insight, however, is one of the most comprehensive solutions in the industry. We help leaders understand the problem in light of their capabilities, resources, and desired outcomes. Some challenges we help them solve directly (eg, recruiter coaching, prospect research, selection assessment, etc.).

RealtyBiz: What are some common mistakes that brokers and teams make when recruiting, and how can they be avoided?

Mark Johnson: Two come to mind: trying to find the magic pill in relation to building the day-to-day system, structure and process, and second, trying to make an outdated business model relevant without real innovation. If agents aren’t buying what you offer, consider innovating or changing your total addressable market.

Many brokerages and teams are looking for a shortcut to recruiting success. They want to buy something that will relieve them of the work they hate doing. Although this may produce short-term results, the long-term consequences are always negative. And it delays the work of recruiting (connecting with prospects, building relationships, and delivering real value).

RealtyBiz: Can you share some success stories from brokerages or teams that have used Recruiting Insight to boost their recruiting efforts?

Mark Johnson: There are so many that I’m not sure we can list them all, because they all want to keep us as a secret weapon.

At one of the nation’s largest brokerage firms, 50% of their recent “Recruit of the Year” winners were recruited through Recruiting Insight. A regional brokerage in Boston that recently started working with our team saw a 200% increase in recruitment of experienced agents in the first quarter. A brokerage in Pittsburgh has been a client of Recruiting Insight for more than ten years and regularly hires more than 500 agents a year.

RealtyBiz: How does Recruiting Insight keep up to date with the latest trends and best practices in real estate recruitment?

Mark Johnson: At Recruiting Insight, we stay up to date by working hand in hand with our clients. We recruit thousands of prospects every month and our virtual recruiting assistants have live conversations with hundreds of candidates every day. And our coaches work directly with hiring managers to help them overcome their real-world recruiting hurdles. Nothing can replace the practical experience of daily work in the trenches.

RealtyBiz: Can you give some advice to brokerage firms and teams looking to build a strong recruiting strategy?

Mark Johnson: It starts with mindset, leads to a relevant business model, and ends with servant leadership. Successful people believe that talent acquisition is a core business process in their organization, and they devote the time, resources, and mental focus to match that belief. Practically, this mindset translates into the daily execution of recruiting tasks that lead to measurable results.

RealtyBiz: How does Recruiting Insight ensure that the candidates it matches with firms or teams align with their culture and values?

Mark Johnson: It starts with clarity of vision, mission, unique niche and value proposition. Once these are clear, the agents that fit your model (and your total addressable market) become apparent. The hiring process and selection assessment helps our clients hire the best-suited agents and employees. Because quick hires are often failed hires, we implement a systematic hiring process that allows enough time for potential issues to arise before an offer is made. Additionally, we use validated screening assessment to help our clients uncover potential issues that are difficult to discern during an interview.

RealtyBiz: What can brokers and teams expect when working with Recruiting Insight?

Mark Johnson: Recruiting Insight clients can expect hiring results that align with their unique recruiting goals. They can expect metrics and data that demonstrate progress toward those goals. And they can expect long-term results that make talent acquisition a competitive advantage. Many of our clients have been using Recruiting Insight tools for over a decade because we deliver measurable results year after year.

About Recruiting Insight Leadership

Mark Johnson, business partner of Recruiting Insight and co-founder of Co-Recruit. As former Brand President and CEO of JPAR┬« – Real Estate, he led the company to 5x growth over five years, reaching $8 billion in sales. An experienced advisor on effectiveness and leadership, he is an engaging speaker and author of three books. Mark holds an MBA from California State University and a Behavior Change Certification from the National Association of Sports Medicine. A father of three and an adventure athlete, he is dedicated to lifelong learning and personal development.
Ben Hess is a serial entrepreneur, writer and coach specializing in real estate recruitment. He co-founded ThirdPool Recruiting in 2006, which operates in over 80 metropolitan areas across the United States. As lead author of the Recruiting Insight publication, he reaches thousands of industry leaders every day. With a diverse background in software, electronics and finance, Ben is also a graduate of the US Naval Academy. He is the father of six children and enjoys sailing and fly fishing in his spare time.

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