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Agent Recruiting Tips and Strategies in a Challenging Real Estate Market

By RealtyBiz News | May 1, 2023

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

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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate profession has been in flux. As a result, the period from 2019 through late 2022 has been an unprecedented roller coaster. Uncertainty and reactions to the pandemic gave way to a real estate boom market now threatened by a brutal downturn in the U.S. economy. We recently spoke with Mark Johnson, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Recruiting Insight, about how recruiting the best talent will be affected. We also asked for tips for agencies caught in a problem where talent and potential probably outweigh all other considerations concerning partnering and staffing. Here are Mark's insights and suggestions.

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

Mark Johnson: Several challenges. First, over the past few years, the real estate industry attracted new agents who started their careers in response to the great resignation and the Covid-19 health crisis. Many of these agents need to be more suitable for real estate and will reintegrate into the traditional job market. As this happens, there is a massive game of musical chairs underway. It takes work for brokers and teams to source and identify agents with true potential. Second, as inventory continues to decline and demand remains solid, reduced sales will not support the industry in its current configuration. Teams are gaining a larger share of transactions, and by many accounts, as many as 30% of NAR members have yet to close a single transaction since the beginning of the year. The implication? Understanding retention at a deep level is critical at this time. Some teams help the part-time agent thrive, where they might survive going solo. Third, the cap financial models with agent vesting or stock grants are a significant force making it critical to define your niche and unique value proposition and the associated total addressable market. 

RealtyBiz: What are some innovative ways Recruiting Insight is helping brokerages and teams of all sizes to source and recruit qualified real estate sales professionals?

Mark Johnson: As the old saying goes, real estate and recruiting are local too. We offer innovative and proven sourcing for high-quality candidates moving out of 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 establish these relationships, consistently move prospects through a recruiting pipeline, and engage those with the most long-term potential. Lastly, we are innovating with a product test that will match newly experienced solo agents that would perform better under the structure of a team. 

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

Mark Johnson: Recruiting Insight uses a proprietary selection assessment protocol to help managers focus on the prospects with the highest potential. In several longitudinal studies, our hiring protocols have nearly double the percentage of new hires who become top performers and minimize the number of failed hires by 50%.

RealtyBiz: How does Recruiting Insight stand out from other recruiting firms in the real estate industry?

Mark Johnson: Recruiting is a complex problem, and no one solution solves everything. Recruiting Insight, however, is one of the most complete solutions in the industry. We help leaders make sense of the problem in light of their capacities, resources, and desired outcomes. Some challenges we help them solve directly (ex., hiring manager coaching, sourcing prospects, selection assessment, etc.). 

RealtyBiz: What are some common mistakes you see brokerages and teams making when recruiting, and how can they be avoided?

Mark Johnson: Two come to mind: Trying to find the magic pill vs. building the daily system, structure, and process, and second, trying to make an outdated business model relevant without true innovation. If agents are not buying what you offer, consider innovating or altering your total addressable market.

Many brokerages and teams are looking for a shortcut to recruiting success. They want to purchase something that will relieve them of the work they hate doing. While 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 offering real value).

RealtyBiz: Can you share some success stories of brokerages or teams that have used Recruiting Insight to supercharge their recruitment efforts?

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

In one of the largest brokerages in the country, 50% of their recent "rookie of the year" winners were sourced by Recruiting Insight. A regional brokerage in Boston that recently started working with our team experienced a 200% increase in experienced agent recruiting in the first quarter. A brokerage in Pittsburg has been a Recruiting Insight client for over ten years and consistently hires more than 500 agents annually.

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

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

RealtyBiz: Can you provide some tips for brokerages and teams looking to build a robust recruitment strategy?

Mark Johnson: It starts with the mindset, flows to a relevant business model, and is capped off with servant leadership. Those who are successful believe that talent acquisition is an essential business process in their organization, and they dedicate the time, resources, and mental focus that align with this belief. Practically, this mindset results in the daily execution of recruiting tasks that lead to measurable results.

RealtyBiz: How does Recruiting Insight ensure that the candidates it matches with brokerages or teams fit 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 help our clients hire agents and employees who are the right fit. Because quick hires are often failed hires, we implement a systematic hiring process that allows enough time to pass for potential problems to surface before an offer is made. In addition, we use a validated selection assessment to help our clients uncover potential issues that are difficult to discern during an interview. 

RealtyBiz: What can brokerages 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 towards these goals. And they can expect long-term results that make talent acquisition a competitive advantage. Many of our clients have been using the Recruiting Insight tools for more than a decade because we produce measurable results year after year.

About Recruiting Insight's Leadership

Mark Johnson, business partner in Recruiting Insight and Co-Founder of Co-Recruit. As the former Brand President and CEO of JPAR® - Real Estate, he led the company to a 5x growth over five years, reaching $8 billion in sales. An experienced advisor on efficiency and leadership, he's an engaging speaker and author of three books. Mark has an MBA from California State University and a Behavioral Change Certification from the National Association of Sports Medicine. A father of three and adventure athlete, he is dedicated to continuous learning and personal development.
Ben Hess is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and coach specializing in real estate recruiting. He co-founded ThirdPool Recruiting in 2006, which operates in over 80 U.S. metro areas. As the primary 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 US Naval Academy graduate. He is a father of six and enjoys sailing and fly fishing in his free time.

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