Tips for Getting into the Commercial Property Industry
Once you’ve set your sights on a career in the commercial property industry, generally it’s a case of “okay, now what?” Well, you’re not alone – most of us have been there. Irrespective of your current circumstances and level of education, training and experience, the below tips should give you some clarity as to the way forward.
Qualification / Registration
If you’re seeking higher education before entering the industry, Universities across Australia offer their version of a Property degree that encompass a diverse range of property topics including but not limited to valuation, development, real estate agency and property management. Alternatively, there are TAFE courses in real estate services on offer if Uni isn’t your scene. Whilst having a degree or TAFE certificate is ideal (and note some employers may prefer those), it isn’t essential in order to practice in the industry.
What is essential is formal registration in your selected state through the respective business and consumers affairs division, that handles licensing and registration. Whilst state to state may have different names for the relevant licence required, it’s generally a real estate licence that allows you to deal with property in your relevant state (note for Property Managers, most states now require registration as a Property Manager in addition to or in place of the standard Real Estate Licence).
When applying for your licence, there’s certain criteria that must be met which generally will require a level of education or training be it a university degree, a TAFE certificate, or completion of a short course through your state’s Real Estate Institute – it’s best to check the criteria in your state first before choosing your preferred way forward.
Networking / Industry Events
The term networking is thrown around a lot, and whilst it can send shivers down the spine for some and create trepidation once you’re at an industry event, there’s no denying it is a great way to build your network of industry contacts. The more events you attend (with a commitment to actually network and achieving an outcome), the quicker you’re able to build your network yet reality is it won’t happen overnight, it takes time.
Each state has various industry bodies that put on an array of events throughout the year, including but not limited to:
o the Property Council of Australia,
o the Property Institute of Australia,
o the Urban Development Institute of Australia, and
o the Real Estate Institute relevant to your state.
Each event is your opportunity to get to know a few people and you should take to it with a bit of drive and passion. Depending on your demographic, there’s events for young property professionals, all property professionals, ladies in property, amongst others – you just need to select what you think best suits you or get along to them all at least once and work out which you’d go back to in future.
The biggest challenge many face with networking is going to events with a few people they know well, get to the event and mingle with each other, but they never approach anyone outside their existing contract group – so in order to widen your network, be bold, go along to events ‘Han Solo’ and have the confidence to approach people. Everyone is there for the same reason as you, and just as cautious as you about approaching others. So make your move and don’t forget to grab their card, flick them an email in the days following the event and this is the key part – actually make the effort to build a relationship with that person, meet them for a coffee, stay in touch – this is fundamental to fostering the relationship.
Whether or not networking is your thing, (strongly suggest you keep at it even if you loathe it! It gets better) you’ll be amazed at the likelihood that someone you know will know of someone, have a relationship with someone, or have a mutual friend with someone who works in the industry that can give you a warm, soft introduction to an industry contact.
I speak from personal experience here in that my genesis in the commercial sector was out of sheer luck – at a family dinner over some time ago, I mentioned to a family friend that I was dead set on forging a commercial property career yet had no idea where to start. Turns out he played football with a Director of an up-and-coming property firm and he put me in touch with him, the rest is history as they say.
You never know who the people you know may know and who they can put you in touch with… until you put it out there! (There’s science backing this up, check out the six degrees of separation concept!)
Recruiters often get a bad rap, yet there are some good operators out there. The best recruiters take the time to get to know you, to understand where you want to take your career, what you’re looking for in a company including the values and ethics you hold true to ensure these align with any potential company the recruiter may wish to put your forward for.
It’s easy enough to jump online and seek out recruiters in your state and often they’ll specialise in the commercial property sector, so it’ll cost you nothing but your time to get in touch with them for a coffee and explore what opportunities there are.
Do Your Research
There’s nothing stopping you from researching the firms in your state that you would like to work for and finding out who the people are in the area you’re interested in.
It’s not difficult these days to get an email for the company and/or person you think might be able to help you. Don’t hesitate to flick them an honest and open note, (or if you’re feeling particularly bold make a cold call!) detailing why you’re contacting them and your aspirations. People will generally be open to helping you if they can and if there’s nothing they can do personally, you’ll find they’ll at least point you in the right direction – for some this might take some nerve yet if you ‘don’t ask – you don’t get’ so have a crack and see where it can lead.
What’s Your End Goal?
Whether your goal is to create a network of contacts, to find an entry level role or to simply meet a senior operator in the property industry segment that you’re interested in (i.e. office leasing or property management), you need to have an end goal in order to know where and what to focus your time, effort and attention on. If you’re not a goal setter, don’t worry, as it’s not rocket science – get a piece of paper out, grab a pen and write down your aspirations/goals relative to your future career in the industry.
Once you’ve reflected on your list, tweaked and ratified it, these become your end goals. Everything you do thereafter, day to day, week to week, month to month should be focused only on what your end goal is – your success will come from consistency and repetition once focusing on your end game which you’ll now have a list detailing the same!
Keep Going, Stay the Course
Don’t get too down if things aren’t going your way early on. Keep going – keep being consistent in getting to events, networking, approaching industry contacts and getting yourself out there. Don’t do it once and give in – consistency, drive and repetition are key.
Finding your way into the industry isn’t always smooth sailing, but keep at it and don’t give up – if you’re set on forging a career in commercial property the above tips are a sound starting guide and I wish you all the very best in your endeavours.
Manager – Property Asset Management
Lloyd would welcome the opportunity to meet with people looking to make the jump into the industry and can be contacted via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).