Recent graduates may not yet have much of a resume, so they need a way to set themselves apart from the competition. A little involvement can go a long way: join a commercial real estate association, run a committee, or serve as a junior board member. Get active in your community, help fundraise, join a charity, or open doors for those in need. All will demonstrate transferable skills.
For more mid-level and senior management positions, the key to professional development and enhancement is – just as it is for a high school senior looking to land a spot at a top college – being well-rounded.
“I define successful managers by thinking of a Trivial Pursuit game piece, with a successful manager being the one who has every wedge in their game piece,” Fischer says. “They’ll have a wedge for construction, operations, client services, accounting, finance, etc. In order to be successful in a high-performance organization like Transwestern, they absolutely must have a wealth of experience in a variety of areas. It’s a full-court press every day.”
Fischer also takes a hard look at the companies from which managers have come, knowing that some cultivate well-roundedness more effectively than others.
“In some companies, the property managers do not handle construction projects or, if you can believe it, budgets, operating expenses, and financial reporting. Those tasks are handled elsewhere in the organization. I can’t hire property managers with those limited skill sets,” he says. “I want someone who has had full responsibility for the entire property management scope of work – because that is going to be their job when they arrive here to work. I’m looking for exceptional performers who have the mentality and the knowledge to manage a commercial building better than anyone else. I also want someone who comes from a building that’s benchmarked with ENERGY STAR. Surprisingly enough, I talk with many potential hires who have no idea how to benchmark their buildings. If they haven’t benchmarked their office buildings in ENERGY STAR, that’s inexcusable, and in most cases, the interview is over.”
Committing to Life-Long Learning
Employers are also paying more attention to candidates who can demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning through their participation in formal and informal educational programs, as well as their pursuit of professional designations. Programs could include BOMA International’s “Foundations of Real Estate Management,” which covers the fundamentals of commercial real estate administration, management, building systems, accounting and reporting, and contract management. Other options are BOMA’s RPA, FMA, SMA, and SMT designations, along with the Institute of Real Estate Management’s CPM and CCIM designations. Any of these options can serve as capstones for any manager’s professional education. Energy management classes that provide a more in-depth understanding of ENERGY STAR and LEED are also critical.
And, just as education should be a lifelong pursuit, so should networking. Whether you’re securely in a position you love or actively in pursuit of a new opportunity, create a list of people in the industry whom you admire, and make it a goal to meet one person from that list every other week for lunch or a quick cup of coffee. Perhaps most importantly, go to those mentor-building meetings not with the idea that you’re looking to get something out of the other person, but that you are bringing value to the table.