We have always been told that success in the real estate world is down to “location, location, location”. Yet for students aspiring to join the profession a more important mantra is “prepare, prepare, prepare”. Competition for property related jobs in the UK, and the world, appears to be higher than ever. Too many students are embarking upon real estate programmes and there are too few jobs available. Simple supply and demand tells us it is a buyer’s market and to secure a graduate role you have to be better than the majority.
As a baby boomer myself, I am often told that I am the generation that will be the next tranche of “grumpy old men” complaining that the newer generations aren’t as good as we were when we were their age. But that is not the case. The latest generation, Generation Z, are as bright and as able as all previous generations yet they are tarnished with the view that they are lazy, unaware and apathetic with an inability to multi-task. But that is from the frustrated perspective of the previous generations and there lies the rub.
If you task a Generation Z student with a task for which there is an immediate result, they will, to varying degrees, do a great job. But if you ask them to do something that will benefit them in 3 or 4 years time, they are unlikely to engage with you. The education system of the “naughties” and the “twenty tens” has, through a need to rank and measure the institutions, become a hurdle jumping structure and this has created a generation wanting (and expecting) immediate gratification. So when it comes to preparing that generation with the soft skills needed to secure employment, a new paradigm is needed to help them and engage with them. But that will prove difficult, as soft skills, by definition are the skills that aren’t rewarded demonstratively.
It’s often said that hard skills (real estate knowledge and understanding) will get you an interview but you need soft skills to get the job. In my day, we absorbed all that we were told and didn’t learn strategically. I can remember being told how to write formal letters in my early sixth form, yet I didn’t need that skill until applying for jobs some 6 years later. Now, if we run optional sessions on CV writing in (say) the 2nd year at university, most of today’s students will concentrate upon the word “optional” and not attend. There is no apparent immediate reward so they don’t do it.
So what is the answer? The new paradigm for employability is to show the students that there is both an immediate and a long term result. In some courses, this is done by making “careers” part of the curriculum with marks being awarded for their efforts. In Real Estate, we have developed a different, separate, system of linking our careers support into our alumni network, OBREMS, and the HR teams of the large consultancies.
With their support, we can run career classes with immediacy. Our colleagues in the Careers Service work closely with the teaching teams to make the events relevant and rewarding (in a general sense). This is done by linking the individual student’s CV/application form preparation with the deadlines of the big firms (initially) and (latterly) the provincial/niche firms. The careers team can also run mock interviews and can help students with their covering letters and personal statements. In short, we provide an environment where the students can “practice, practice and practice” so they feel confident and prepared with their applications, with their interviews and with their jobs in the future.