How Would You “re-do” Your RE Job Hunt?

FDR's picture
Rank: Monkey | 39

For those of you who have transitioned into real estate from another area of finance (or another career entirely) and those of you who went into real estate post undergrad or grad school, what mistakes did you make in your job search? What tips/tricks/websites/recruiters do you wish you would've known about? Any specific tactics or strategies you employed that you found particularly beneficial?

For instance, I'm currently combing through a stack of Real Estate Alert publications and documenting every firm, function, and headquarters that comes along. This has been useful because sometimes they'll mention a smaller shop that won't make it into The Real Deal or other popular publications.

What else have you guys found?

(Sorry if this is a repeat, I did some searching but didn't find anything too similar)

Comments (32)

Jul 9, 2019

I'm gonna chime in and provide my input, but I don't think my perspective will carry much weight because I'm only three years into my professional career (and out of undergrad).

I didn't know that I wanted to get into real estate, but I just happened to end up in a commercial real estate advisory group at a national accounting firm.

The work I do isn't traditional real estate, and I'm afraid that I already pidgeon-holed myself because the roles that I would qualify for based on skills that I've developed here would still only net me entry-level roles, even though I should in theory be one step ahead of those graduating candidates, so it makes me an unattractive candidate. I'm trying to unwind by actively networking, going to events, trying to find mentors, and reading up on this site as much as I can.

So for me, if I could go back in time I would just be bombarding everyone via LinkedIn or other professional real estate orgs like ULI and asking to pick their brains to get as much industry insight as I can, regardless of what line of real estate or what asset class they work in. At the end of the day, you're still so green to the industry that any information is helpful information, and you should be accumulating as much as you can before you try narrowing down what specifically you'd like to be doing. Too many narrow-minded individuals have this glamorous perception of going into REPE or any other acquisition-related work without actually knowing why they want to do it. There's so many interesting career paths within real estate that you should be exploring and learning about as many as you can, especially while you're at a stage where you have all the time in the world career-wise and don't have other obligations (like family) that would impede you.

Whether or not you see yourself in RE long term, you should be doing yourself a favor and try soaking up as much as you can, whether it's reading, listening to podcasts, seeking out alum, going to events, etc.

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Jul 9, 2019

This is a very broad question. I'd suggest you try to narrow down what you are interested in. If you don't know, talk to everyone and try to narrow it down. Are you interested in acquisitions and management? ...financing? brokerage? ...etc

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Jul 9, 2019

I agree this is phrased pretty broadly but I figured this way the thread as a whole could apply to lots of job seekers. If anyone has any function or industry specific anecdotes that would obviously be incredibly helpful too!
But if people just have broad advice like I should have networked more, I should have shotgunned more applications (or fewer) or I wish I would have held out for X because of Y, whatever it may be.

Thank you for your reply though

Most Helpful
Jul 9, 2019

I spent too much time looking for jobs vs preparing for interviews.

Getting that email for the first round interview is a bit of a endorphin / dopamine rush so it makes sense that we chase that high through networking emails and perusing job sites. But the reality is searching for jobs and sending networking emails shouldn't take as long as memorizing your deal metrics / job responsibilities, crafting your story, practicing technicals, and getting modeling reps in.

Obviously you don't want to do the reverse either. But I blew some interviews because I was too focused on finding opportunities when I should have been doing the less "fun" parts of the job search such as outlining my "walk me through a deal you've worked on" response

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Jul 9, 2019

Perspective from my experience, I hope it helps.

First- make sure to know what you want. This takes some networking and research. Yes, learning about roles helps you hone, but you will make both your own job and recruiters' jobs easier if you can identify specific search criteria.

Second- pull every thread. I used job websites, friends and family, and many top recruiting firms for six months. I ultimately found my dream job because I decided to hear out a random recruiter from LinkedIn.

Third- I see others have enchoed this response. Prepare for interviews. Most importantly, be able to articulate both the minutae and the big picture of your current role or last internship. Understand what it is that you currently do to a tee, and have a damn good answer for why you are seeking the new role.

Read, listen, and ask questions, everywhere and always.

    • 2
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Jul 10, 2019

Started sooner. Chased jobs blindly for two years and languished in a terrible job before pulling the trigger and going back to school. Hindsight, I'd be done with school by now. It's never a bad idea to keep getting educated but it's a time suck at the moment and sometimes i look back and think "oh i could already be in REPE [or whatever]."

that being said, i don't always look back on my missed opportunities as a bad thing. Sometimes you have to get philosophical and think you're where you're supposed to be at any given time. hard to do most days but it's gotta be true.

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Jul 10, 2019

Climb the corporate ladder and prove yourself at one place, then the job will find you

Out of college I started as analyst in credit card at a commercial bank, the largest subprime card issuer, stayed there many years till senior manager, all my time spent in credit card business, the bank didn't even have any CRE business at that time ( not till after they bought GE capital and beech street later on)

Then I went to Fannie/Freddie, one of them, to do analytics in multifamily for a couple years, now back at bank as senior director/sr credit Officer in CRE lending

I never underwrote a loan in my life and all they asked me in the interview was whether I am comfortable with certain asset types (which I had zero experience with)

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Jul 10, 2019

This advice is more about the career path. When you start a career in CRE finance, it is critical to get as much reps early on to all types of asset classes, financial vehicles, transactions, etc... For example - a retail or office IS analyst at a major shop will have solid opportunities, but won't have the broad experience as a capital markets analyst who has worked on all kinds of debt and equity placement across all major asset classes. The more widespread experience you get early on, the wider array of opportunities you have even later on in the career. If you go from dedicated single asset class IS analyst to dedicated single asset class acquisitions associate, it will be much harder to jump into a diversified role or a different singular asset class role.

Also - earlier on in my career I cannot count how many times I heard "strong Argus experience" as a necessary prerequisite to being considered for a job. This is by far the easiest way to get into the CRE finance space.

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Jul 10, 2019

This is wonderful advice.

For me networking has always been the easy part. Though I'm only a few years into my career I've built a pretty solid network (In large part due to the role i previously held), unfortunately that network has only been in my product type. When I became ready to move on from my previous role, you can imagine where the best opportunities came from.

All of that to say, try to put off isolating yourself into one product type, or role as long as you can. If you're interested in acquisitions, look for an (acq/asset management/development) hybrid role. The experience you obtain from holding multiple posts is as valuable as anything in this business. I was obsessed with getting into acquisitions and found out I like other things even more than that after doing the job, so it was nice to have a multitude of responsibilities that allowed me to figure out what i liked.

    • 4
Jul 10, 2019

So true about getting experience in development and asset management. It allows someone in acquisitions to size up deals in a much more granular way.

    • 1
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Jul 10, 2019

Underestimating the volume of networking it would take to get into the positions i wanted. It's important to have your shit together (general re knowledge, being up to date on the news, Argus / Excel basics) but the vast majority of your time should be spent sending emails, scheduling calls, and setting up meetings. If you set goals around volume of contact (10 emails / week, 8 meetings / month, etc) you'll have much better luck. As JSmithRE2010 said though, after you get these meetings you have to prepare to impress.

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Jul 10, 2019
FDR:

For those of you who have transitioned into real estate from another area of finance (or another career entirely) and those of you who went into real estate post undergrad or grad school, what mistakes did you make in your job search?

This is a bit of a sidebar, but I think it's relevant. My job hunt(s) have been fine, in my opinion. My general "path" is what I would change.

I started, like many, with a name brand brokerage firm, and after some soul searching I realized I wanted to be on the development side. Knowing what I know now, at Undergrad+1 year, right there, I should have networked immediately to get into a development company or went to grad school immediately. Instead, I knew that I didn't know shit about development, so I went a roundabout path to try to "learn" more in acquisitions and a wide variety of odd jobs in real estate.

Ultimately frustrated, I went to graduate school for a MRED at Undergrad+3 years, only for 80% of my class to be Undergrad+1 years. Now it all worked out in the end, mind you, but I could have shaved 2-4 years off my timeline had I just immediately went after my goal as opposed to meandering through the real estate wilderness first. There are guys in my role 4 years my junior because their path was far more direct.

Know what you want and be deliberate about achieving it.

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Jul 10, 2019

I am surprised that most of the MRED students only had one year of experience. Did you find the MRED helpful for building your knowledge base, or was it done more to brand yourself?

Jul 10, 2019

I did it for the network and re-branding- I had no finance background and came in with a history degree. I had a mix of experience coming in totaling a couple of years, including time before and during college working for my family's construction company.

"There are only two opinions in this world: Mine and the wrong one." -Jeremy Clarkson

Jul 10, 2019
InVinoVeritas:

I am surprised that most of the MRED students only had one year of experience. Did you find the MRED helpful for building your knowledge base, or was it done more to brand yourself?

I went into it for the knowledge base and branding. I came out with branding and a network. I did not learn as much as I thought I would, but the branding and especially network eclipsed my expectations.

Jul 10, 2019
CRE:

Know what you want

I think this is the issue. Agree with everything you say, but it's clear these threads start because posters cannot answer this question.

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Jul 10, 2019
Edifice:

I think this is the issue. Agree with everything you say, but it's clear these threads start because posters cannot answer this question.

Very fair and valid point. I suppose mine should have been more "as soon as you know what you want, chase it relentlessly"

Jul 9, 2019

Thanks for your reply.
Actually it's quite the contrary, for this thread at least. I'm 99% certain I want to go into development at a small firm but I did open the thread to real estate job searches as a whole because so often I think we look back and kick ourselves and think "if i would've known X or Y I could have gotten here several years sooner" just as @CRE mentioned in his very insightful post. I apologize if the initial question seemed to meander, I just wanted to give lots of people the opportunity to air the dirty laundry of their job hunt pitfalls!

However, if anyone does have advice specifically relating to breaking into development, I'd appreciate hearing it!

Jul 10, 2019

I would have probably spent more time networking while I was still in college. I finished college with a couple courses but no internship experience. In the end, I got lucky in landing something just a couple weeks before graduation.

I think networking with lots of people from different areas of the industry would have been worthwhile in helping me understand their job a bit more and the kind of challenges they are faced with regularly. I think that could have cemented things more and make me think " would I like to be this person in 5 to 10 years?"

My tips:

-Take any courses in real estate that you can to demonstrate interest
-Network. Knock on as many doors as you can asking for an informational interview
-Like the other posts above know the answers to the interview questions. "Why RE?" Why Acquisitions?" "Why us?"
-Read current news to help keep yourself up to speed

Recruiters haven't been great. I don't recommend putting a lot of effort with them, especially the third-party ones. They'll only talk to you if you're an outstanding candidate, but then at that point what is it worth to you to go through them? The firm hiring pays the third-party if the candidate gets hired which means the hiring firm could still hunt for their own candidates and actually end up forgoing to the candidates a recruiter sends them.

Jul 10, 2019

In the downturn I probably should have "settled" for something more pathetic (anything ... Answering phones at loopnet or whatever) just to get into the industry. I wasted a good bit of time holding out. But, I don't beat myself up about it, those were shitty times for everyone and I had no experience. Things turned out pretty well regardless by sticking it out.

    • 1
Jul 10, 2019
  • Once you have a job, know when to move on.
  • Don't get too comfortable at your current job.
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Jul 14, 2019

Any advice around those two points?

Jul 10, 2019
Temujiin:

Any advice around those two points?

oh i totally agree with this. there's no advice to it, just 'quit early and quit often'

you're better off (as a human being ... emotionally .... etc) with a history of job-hopping than you are stagnating just to "check off the box" and prove to the world that you can stay in a job for a while.

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Jul 11, 2019

Piggybacking off @CRE a bit.

As far as I can tell, there are three key and interrelated components to success: relationships, information, and time. Relationships matter not just because people do business with people they trust, but also because relationships equate to information. Information is power in decision making. Moreover, the compounding effect over time of good/informed decision making leads to success (however you define it to be).

That being said, genuine relationships take years to develop and require their own set of rules (trust, integrity, honesty, respect, conscientiousness, reliability, etc.). So, the sooner you can start meeting people, the better.

In short, define who/what you want to be and build relationships with those who can help you achieve your goals.

BTW, networking is a fine way to meet new people, but it doesn't count as relationship building. People who jump from networking to selling never close the deal. People who jump from networking to friend always close the deal.

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Jul 12, 2019

To be quite frank, I would've gone back to school about a year or two earlier than I did. Starting the MS in RE program at NYU opened a metric shit-ton of doors for me that I spent a year trying to break down with networking, cold emailing, etc. Time might be the most precious commodity you've got and while in the grand scheme of things it may not matter much, I definitely would be in a better position if I had walked down this path by now.

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Jul 10, 2019

Refreshingly contrary feedback. Are you comfortable describing anything you were able to access through school that you couldn't via networking?

Jul 12, 2019

Sure. Before the MS program, I was targeting small/mid-sized firms and even then having a tough time breaking in. I had been in corporate real estate for about 3 years at that point with only about 1 year of acquisitions/development experience under my belt. Most people were looking at me like I was an alien and it was tough just getting interviews for acquisitions/asset management jobs which was mostly what I was targeting.

1 semester on campus and I got an offer from a top-tier capital markets shop which is where I'm typing this comment from. I still had to leverage my network, schmooze, and do all the other bs you have to do when seeking a position, but I guess the difference is that it stuck and I got in the door. I can't emphasize the difference in quality between the kinds of firms I was targeting before and the kind of shop I'm at now enough.

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Jul 14, 2019
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Jul 16, 2019
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