A common business expression states, “your bottom line starts with your front line.” In the terms of war, a front line is used to designate the forward-most friendly forces on the battlefield. Typically, the very employees we send to battle in the front lines every day, those who are tasked with the heavy burden of representing our brands and defining the experiences our customers have, are often relegated to the bottom of the business food chain. With tight budgets and limited resources, it can be hard to justify investing in our property staff the way we know we should.
Make no mistake, the life blood of the multifamily housing industry is the property staff. Juggling a dizzying array of responsibilities, a great staff member not only works well under pressure, but does so with a smile. So, how do we find and hire these rock-star employees? And can it be done without breaking the bank? Entry-level positions can be challenging to fill because many applicants lack a long history of qualified experience. But the good news is that finding great people isn’t as hard or expensive as you may think. Here’s a few hiring tips:
Documented Experience vs. Demonstrated Skills
Resumes can be a powerful statement about an applicant’s qualifications, but they can also be deceptive. With entry-level positions, many resumes will be short and contain little experience. Don’t let that immediately turn you away! Instead, use a hiring process that allows your applicants to demonstrate that they have the skills needed to succeed. And remember, just because someone worked in a customer service department doesn’t mean they necessarily know how to deliver great customer service. Mock calls, practical assessments, and cognitive tests are just a few of the tools that can help you find great employees who are just getting started along their career paths.
Focus on Values
Not all great employees will thrive equally at all companies. Just as important as finding applicants with the right set of skills is finding applicants that compliment the unique culture and set of values that your company promotes. This alignment is a critical predictor of performance, productivity, and job satisfaction. Craft value-based interview questions that are open-ended and non-leading. Some companies are even using behavior profiling technologies to assess an applicant’s personality. These tools can be helpful, but also look for subtle ways to gauge the level of cultural fit for each of your applicants. For example, if accountability is a core value of yours, pay careful attention to how punctual your applicants are and how well they follow through with whatever directions they are given. By focusing on values, you’ll not only hire great people, but you will retain them as well.
Use a Rating System
Once all is said and done, it can still be challenging to make a final hiring decision. A rating system can help you make sense of the pros and cons of any applicant. By determining up front what factors are most important and how much weight should be assigned to each, you’ll make less biased decisions. Pro tip: store as much data as you can about your applicants. When properly mined, this data can provide eye-opening insights into what factors you should or shouldn’t be considering. This system can be especially helpful when doing interviews. Keep your rating system focused, simple, and values-oriented.
Lean on Existing Employees
Like birds of a feather, great employees flock together. While cheesy, this statement is true. You will likely find that despite all your efforts to reach new potential applicants, employee referrals remain your most consistent source of new hires. Why are referrals so valuable? For starters, They are already somewhat familiar with your culture and have some understanding about the job. If they do have the recommendation of one of your rock-stars, chances are high they will be a good fit and succeed. Encourage referrals by providing generous referral bonuses and involving your top performers in your recruiting efforts.
On our industry’s battlefield, winning tends to come at the slimmest of margins. With competitive threats around every corner, properties that can distinguish themselves by providing great customer interactions will succeed. That cannot be accomplished without filling our properties with great employees. In a recent survey, almost 60% of Americans said they are willing to try a new brand or company (read: property) just to have a better service experience. Are we prepared to respond accordingly?