The first thing to accept about multifamily hiring is that people usually fall into this business by accident. They don’t typically go to school for it, and there are very few formal training programs they can attend to get educated about the industry. Instead, candidates typically find that a multifamily job fits their current needs and experience, and, from there, they work their way up.
Against this fairly unusual backdrop, I’m excited to share specific hiring strategies that will help operators identify the right fit for their open roles. Before turning to these approaches, however, it’s important to understand the two biggest hurdles faced by multifamily HR teams — the industry’s exceptionally fast pace and its higher-than-average turnover.
With this context in mind, let’s explore a range of ways your hiring teams can transform their recruiting practices to find people genuinely drawn to the work at hand.
“The first thing to accept about multifamily hiring is that people usually fall into this business by accident.”
At RADCO, we don’t hire people who simply can do the job; we hire people who want to do the job. In this respect, we really turn resume tradition on its head. Instead of scanning resumes to see that a candidate has previously held the role they’re applying for, RADCO hiring teams review the person’s information to assess whether they have a certain set of skills, ones necessary for them to thrive.
We’ve found that a person’s motivations are a much more significant indicator of success than their past job titles. It’s one thing to check all the boxes for a position, but if you don’t care about the work, you aren’t going to do well. So, above all, RADCO looks for candidates who have a passion for people. We always aim to deliver a high level of customer service, so it’s very important that we hire applicants who are genuinely drawn to hospitality work, who have a passion for interacting with people.
“We've found that a person's motivations are a much more significant indicator of success than their past job titles.”
To this end, RADCO is especially focused on training our hiring managers. By investing in managers, we’ll be able to make significant strides in attracting the right people at all levels of our company. Part of the process involves empowering these hiring managers with a specific set of questions that will gear them toward finding out whether someone is truly motivated to do the job.
For example, one of the questions is: “why do you want to be in an industry where you can see the value of efficient maintenance work?” or “why do you want to be in an industry where you can impact residents directly?”
Ultimately, we’re training our managers to focus on the “why” part of an interview — not the “what have you done” aspect but the “why do you want to do this” angle. This kind of questioning ensures that we find people who truly buy into and align with our company values.
Every company values honesty in its employees. That said, at RADCO, we find there’s a big difference between upfront answers and blame games. During interviews, we’re looking for a person who can take accountability for the part they played in something — rather than offer a detailed explanation of why someone else was at fault for a project gone wrong.
“During interviews, we’re looking for a person who can take accountability for the part they played in something...”
We don’t hire candidates who stop at: “my manager was terrible.” Instead, we prize accountability and diplomacy. At RADCO, we expect candidates will have a more reasoned approach, maybe summarizing a situation more along these lines: “it wasn’t the best fit for me, but I can understand how others might thrive there.”
Essentially, we want to gauge a person’s capacity to collaborate. When it sounds like they’re all about “me, me, me,” we have to decide that person is not right for our work culture. In a fast-paced, relationship-driven industry like multifamily, it’s very important that our team members have self-awareness. Everyone is bound to make a mistake at some point in their job, we just want to sense whether or not the person will take responsibility.
Confronting the uncomfortable during an interview can help your teams do even more than gauge a candidate’s sense of accountability. When hiring managers steer clear of sugarcoating and instead cover the range of responsibilities entailed in a job, they ensure candidates are completely on board with what’s expected.
At RADCO, we’ve faced turnover before because of misunderstandings over what a job really requires of a candidate. I think that burden is on us, and we’ve faced this fact by training our managers to be upfront about a position having both challenging and exciting dimensions. When you dress up a job just to get people through the door, you risk turnover in the end.
Ultimately, anything customer-service related will have aspects that people find inspiring and other duties they find less enjoyable. The more upfront a hiring team is at the start of the recruitment process, the better the odds they will find a person who genuinely wants to stay for a good while.
RADCO finds it valuable to treat leaders like leaders from the very beginning. At our company, we view residential communities like companies in their own right. As we see it, our property managers serve as presidents of those companies. For that reason, we treat these professionals as executives, key partners in our business. By elevating this position to the status it should be, we feel it gives our team members a sense of ownership, mentally.
In interviewing for these property manager positions, we feel it’s important to get a sense of how the candidate would lead on day one. When our candidates can show decisiveness and accountability right from this first meeting, we feel confident they’ll be able to run a “company” like a true executive.
“In interviewing for these property manager positions, we feel it’s important to get a sense of how the candidate would lead on day one.”
Similarly, RADCO expects its leasing consultants to be leaders in the customer service experience. It’s why in the interview phase, we make sure these applicants stand out in terms of individual sales expertise and the ability to read a room. Above all, we think it’s critical that applicants for this role have the capacity to connect with their audience, sense needs, and stay organized on any paperwork or online communications they receive. When we set the tone that these applicants are leaders in our eyes, they can truly step up to the best of their ability.
As you consider altering your multifamily hiring strategy, it’s useful to keep tabs on relevant tech options. Social media platforms can be a promising way to spread the word about open roles or raise awareness about your work culture in general. At RADCO, we post quite a bit on Indeed and Linkedin, but we also encourage our team members to post about open roles on their social accounts. To boost this effort, we have a straightforward referral program for our team members to post a role and refer friends directly to our system.
To make the candidate experience even easier, we have also implemented a text feature where our recruiters and hiring managers can communicate via text with our applicants throughout the interview process. We have identified that our applicants are very busy, and this method has helped us streamline the communication in a very effective way.
RADCO also partners with a third-party company, Human Resource Dimensions, that provides a range of HR services, including recruiting. Their approach is especially helpful because of its proactive nature; rather than react to news that a position has opened up, they help us consistently develop a pipeline of talent to fill a range of roles. They also help us network in local organizations, universities, and veterans’ groups to get our name out in the regional job market.
Finally, RADCO is keeping an eye on AI technology as it evolves. Although we have not identified the right AI recruiting tool quite yet, we do see its potential to help remove bias in the interviewing process. We also see it as a helpful option to improve our candidate experience and applicant tracking process. Above all, we’re excited to refine our hiring process so that we merge the valuable human element with promising tech solutions, ones that will help us continue to position RADCO as a recognized brand that people want to work for.
I’d be lying if I said RADCO has never made a hiring mistake. That said, we have also had instances where we were slightly concerned about someone’s ability to flourish and they proved us wrong, shattering expectations with a strong drive to do the job right. We’re always so moved by these stories, when someone wanted something badly enough that they really pushed themselves to get there. In the end, the most important thing to accept about multifamily hiring is... there’s no perfect recipe! We learn as we grow and as the industry continues to evolve.