Job Hunting Under the Radar

Analyst 1 in RE - Comm

I'm currently working in brokerage, looking to move to the ownership side. I have run into the issue that all of the hiring managers for the positions I am interested in are mutual connections with my manager on LinkedIn. Considering that the industry is relatively small and interconnected (borderline incestuous lol), how do you go about applying to jobs and networking? Do I need to be cognizant that a potential employer could mention to my manager that I'm looking around or is this something unlikely to occur?

PS I am aware that it may not be the best time to be looking for a job given what's going on. My main thought is that owners still need to operate their properties and communicate with tenants/lenders, as well as build a pipeline of future projects. Best case scenario in my current position is to not get laid off (with essentially no chance for a discretionary bonus as transactions aren't being done).
I am also wondering if I should be targeting the lending side as it sounds like the banks are quite busy...

Appreciate any replies and stay safe out there!

Comments (14)

Mar 24, 2020

So, as a "1st year analyst", you should really be mindful of how job hunting would look at this stage of your career. I think networking for long-term career advice is the way to go. If you focus on alumni or people you make personal connections with (like via trade organizations, when they can have meetings again.......), the "risk" of getting back to your boss is minimal. In fact, I really don't there is much risk unless you take it to far and act too aggressive. I work on the ownership side for a developer, if a brokerage associate talked to be about careers in development, I would never dream of calling or emailing their boss.. that would be a jerk move and frankly make me look bad.

But that isn't the issue. You should really wait it out and get experience, if you network, you can get to know people and then prove your value via your work. Quality gets a reputation, so does having the right attitude. It may lead to the next job calling on you (in all honesty, that is more the case for people 5+ years in the industry). Still, if a 1st year is applying for a new job, it can send the wrong signal (like what is wrong with this person they need to jump so fast? Will they leave my firm after a year?).

If you are laid off, or suffer substantial loss of income due to recession (which unfortunately is possible for the brokerage industry), then job hunting is by all means perfectly reasonable and understandable. It's all about having the right reason, your resume is like a story, so ask yourself, how do you explain why this character is making this move now. If it doesn't make sense, employers are likely to bite.

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  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Mar 25, 2020

Appreciate the response! I should clarify if it sounded like I am actively trying to switch firms this early in my career - I am more so trying to be proactive given the current economy and figured why not make the switch when I may be laid off anyways. Nonetheless you make some valid points and I'll wait to see what hand I've been dealt.

Mar 25, 2020

That is a smart move, making these transitions are sometimes easier the less you try (I know that sounds like fluff, but it comes from experience). I would spend the time, and if more free time comes, on building skills and knowledge. Owner side will demand different skills than brokerage, so the more you can prove that you know on the owner side, the more obvious it will be to someone looking to hire. Take the old Steve Martin quote to heart.. "Be so good, they can't ignore you!"

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Mar 26, 2020

What if the 1st year analyst (or sub 1 year) is trying to change markets (move to another city)? Does that still give off a red flag?

Mar 26, 2020

Moving markets does create a "hall pass" of sorts, still need to explain why. But wanting to move markets is a big reason people job hunt, nothing wrong with it. I should say, a junior broker wanting to move to ownership is hardly something to cause a "red flag". Lots if not all brokers want to join the "buy" side (just like many in IB want to go to PE). It's just giving a compelling reason as to why you should be hired at this point, that is what you need to bridge.

I would doubt, and I think many in hiring roles would as well, that you have "mastered" your craft in your current role of 1 yr or sub 1-year. Thus, you would really be competing with recent or upcoming MBA/MSRE grads and everyone else. If you work for a few years, get promoted, participate in cool deals, etc.... you will actually build a track record and maybe even a solid reputation that will propel you into a better role.

Your negotiating power is weak right now, but will grow if you tough it out. That said, if you can prove you are ready for the REPE or development or inst. asset mngt role now, you can get hired. Just think of what you would do if you were an MD/EVP and your resume hit their desk, where would you rank?

This is why good networking is crucial, you can get info and honest feedback, without being too obvious about your real intent. I'm not saying not to take action to make a move, just be strategic about it. Further, there is not a rush, trust me! You CAN get a bump from brokerage, but I wouldn't think it likely for a few more years.

Most Helpful
Mar 25, 2020

I don't see any problem with trying to move to the ownership side after 1 year if that's what you want to to long term. It's easier to make that transition earlier in your career rather than later, so if you can land something I'd take it. While I understand the sentiment above, I don't think it makes sense to stay in brokerage longer if you ultimately want to be work for an owner. This may appear taboo, but as long as you can explain the jumps on your resume in a compelling way I don't think people really question it.

To your question about how to network / look for a job when your boss has LinkedIn connections in common, I'd just start the conversation as a general networking meeting and feel it out. You should be able to tell pretty quickly whether the person you're talking to was your bosses college roommate or just someone your boss had a coffee with once. You can play the conversation after that. It would be a dick move for anyone to call your boss after your conversation, but there are assholes out there so you just have to use your judgement.

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  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Mar 26, 2020

1 year of experience was the original plan to start looking around, and I'll likely stick to that unless circumstances change and I find myself out of work. Glad to hear you say this isn't too soon as I am also looking to move to a different market/firm for lifestyle reasons as well (I am currently in a tertiary market which I've grown tired of).

As for the networking part, I am doing my best but it is hard to not come across too strong/make the ulterior motive obvious, given that the firms I'm interested in are not in my current city. I do have a few connections in my target city from previous interviews and networking trips, however now that I'm employed it changes the dynamics a bit. I'd be interested if you have any advice for networking knowing this?

Mar 26, 2020

If you're networking outside of your current market I wouldn't worry too much about it getting back to your boss. I also think it is ok to make your motives known as well. Just have a well thought out story and communicate it honestly / directly.

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Mar 25, 2020

9/10 they won't say anything, especially if it is an advertised position. I have seen it though, but it was a best friend type of deal. Either way, it's a really stupid move - and HR should rip anyone who does it. Once a company gets that rep, they lose a ton of talent pipeline.

That said, in brokerage, you have to apply under the radar and take the risk. The second they catch a whiff of you wanting out of brokerage, you'll get kicked to the bottom of the bucket - even if it's a 2-year timeline. Regardless of ultimate plans, tell brokers you want to be a broker for life.

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  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Mar 26, 2020

I don't think the two are best friends by any means, but the advertised position is for a company whose portfolio includes buildings in my current city, some of which we may have been the broker for.

I'm glad you mentioned your second point as I had considered having a "if you were in my situation..." conversation with my MD as the team is tightly knit. Heeding your advice I will not do this.

Mar 26, 2020
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