In Australia, when we write about planning your career in real estate, we are most often focused on those people who want to get their licence and move into property management or sales roles.
What is often forgotten, is the thousands of people who are employed in supporting roles within local offices, and corporate roles, at head offices around the country. With long and rewarding careers, we’re talking about everyone from our office managers to group marketing directors, IT and finance experts, among others.
If you do want to move from an office into HQ, you will likely be competing against other people who have perhaps studied at university, but may not have spent time on the coalface. While your experience in the field may offer you some advantage, if they have the recognised qualifications you don’t when in a skilled area, you may find yourself lower down on the list of candidates.
So, how can you put yourself in the best position to move into corporate?
1. Plan your moves
The first most important aspect of planning your career is… the planning part! Some people who randomly decide to make a career change get the job they want quickly and the remuneration they expect, but many don’t. The reason they miss out may be due to unrealistic expectations, a lack of skills or experience.
Know where you want to go and what is required in that role in terms of qualifications and skills.
Jump on LinkedIn and look up people in the initial position you might need to take to get into corporate, and each subsequent position, so you understand what their resumes look like, what qualifications they have and where they’ve been before. This helps you understand what you need to do and also who you’ll be up against.
2. Start with CPD
If you do need to upskill, get a taste of the formal learning you need, when doing your CPD.
If you are a level 2 licence holder, you will have an option to do electives that may be relevant to your planned career trajectory — marketing courses, business, finance. If you are a level 1 licence holder, some of these types of courses will be compulsory.
Take every opportunity you can to learn the theory that underpins your chosen career path, so when you do get to starting those formal qualifications, you have a good foundation to begin from.
3. Get qualified
While some of the roles in HQs or the more corporate roles across real estate don’t require formal qualifications, many do, especially the higher up you go!
The good news is, education has moved a lot faster than workplaces, and online learning has been available long before Covid forced flexibility in other industries.
With many TAFEs and universities, you can study part-time or full-time online, or even complete intensive qualifications with specialist providers in a condensed period of time.
Before committing though, understand the requirement. Taking on, for example, a bachelor degree, can be quite demanding. Taking it on and continuing to work full time is a brand new lifestyle!
That being said, it’s not impossible and many do it successfully. You only need to look at EAC’s social media, for an example of a PM who completed a law degree while working in real estate!
4. Update your resume and cover letter
Remember, when competing against others, you may be competing in circles where your qualification or experience in the specialisation is more limited.
To combat this, your resume and cover letter need to tell the story of your understanding of the role itself and what is required, and your broad, practical knowledge of the industry.
If you can illustrate that you have the theory and some practice for the role, and you uniquely combine this with first-hand insight into pain points of agents and consumers, you tell a story of someone with real value to any HQ.
5. Provide relevant references
The list of references you provide, just like your resume, should be tailored to the job for which you are applying. For example, if you are going for a sales job, drawing on a reference from a sales role will be more relevant than one from your beginning in childcare.
When coming from a sales or PM role, it’s completely understandable and expected to include your current/last employer, but if you can, also include a reference more relevant to the field you want to go in to, who can talk to your theoretical knowledge and how you may have previously used and applied it.
6. Get experience
If you don’t have relevant experience and you want to beef up your story and your chances, seek, for volunteer roles is only a few clicks away.
Not for profits and charities are often looking for extra hands in office roles, and you could find yourself volunteering in business, finance, marketing or other fields in a housing-related NFP.
With volunteering, you often have the opportunity to have flexible hours and location, and choose your commitment, so a little bit of extra hard work for six months could get you into a corporate path even faster.
7. Understand the remuneration
Moving from sales or property management, there’s every chance you’re coming from some sort of base wage with commission on top or bonuses.
In most corporate roles, especially at a junior level, you won’t find the same. While sometimes, in more senior roles, you may be offered bonuses, usually your salary is what it is, no matter how hard you work!
When looking at your career trajectory, make sure the remuneration suits your plans. If you were making a lot of commission, you may even need to take a cut to your annual haul, so calculate those changes and make sure it’s acceptable. You don’t want to take all the steps needed to make this change, then find the dollars just don’t add up for you!