It’s not just your transferable skills and property know-how that recruiters are on the lookout for, the message from employers is clear: we want graduate who have a passion for property and want to work for us. Employers’ application systems are designed to find this out, through application forms, interview questions and at the assessment centre – your enthusiasm for the sector needs to shine through at every stage.
For example: Cushman & Wakefield’s application form directly asks: ‘Why are you passionate about a career in Property?’ Along similar lines, Gerald Eve’s application form includes the question: ‘Why are you interested in working in a commercial property consultancy?’
Even if you aren’t directly asked about your passion for property, throughout the application process you want to demonstrate that you have a genuine interest in the profession. Samantha Sommerville, next generation co-ordinator at CBRE Ltd, advises on how candidates can stand out: ‘Demonstrate passion and knowledge and knowledge for the role and industry you are applying for.’
Here we break down three things to keep in mind when showcasing your passion for property:
This comes down to three elements:
1. Make your reasons personal
’Have personal reasons why you want to work for certain companies and why you want to pursue a career in this sector,’ says Tiffany George-Fontaine, graduate recruitment officer at Knight Frank LLP. One way of ensuring that your interest in property is genuine is by rooting it in your own experiences – this could be from your own research, a chance encounter or through family friends. Don’t be afraid to tell a personal story.
A word of warning, though: avoid saying that you’ve always wanted to be a surveyor. Not only is it a horrendous cliché that recruiters will have heard/read time and again, it’s also very unlikely to be true (really, ‘always’?) – you want to show that you’ve made a considered career choice to pursue property, and that your passion for the profession has developed over time.
Keep your reasons focused on you. It is easy to make sweeping statement reminiscent of academic essays (eg. ‘The built environment shapes out experiences of the world around us’), which don’t unambiguously state why property is important to you.
How can you develop your personal passion?
While your reasons for your interest in property need to be personal, if you’re still looking to develop this, or you just want to learn more about the sector, there are a couple of things that you can do to build up evidence of your passion.
Samantha advises one way that you can demonstrate your passion for the industry: ‘At university, join property societies and take an active role in the group.’ This will show recruiters that you are actively considering and exploring your career options, and may allow you to make connections with professionals currently working at property firms.
Carolyn adds: ‘[demonstrating passion] is especially important for non-cognates – they may have secured internships or work experience, obtained subscriptions to property journals or attended property events.’
- Find out more about how non-cognates (students who have not studied a property-related degree) can make their start in the property sector here.
2. Make a connection between you and the career path
Your passion for property also needs to be supported by an awareness and a knowledge of the work as a surveyor. As well as showing that you’ve made a considered choice to work in this sector, it highlights the fact that you have done your research and have a realistic understanding of what life is like as a graduate surveyor.
In your answers, you should indicate that you know what a property surveyor does day-to-day, that you know about the process of becoming chartered and that you know about typical career progression. Then you should say why you are excited by this and how it suits your abilities. Recruiters have previously told us that this is an important differentiator when it comes to standing out in a competitive recruitment market.
- The APC is a key milestone in the road to becoming a chartered surveyor. Learn more about what’s involved with the APC here.
For example, if you are applying to an agency role, you could show that you are aware of the amount of negotiation involved in this, calling upon your own experiences of negotiation to prove you are suited to such a career. This experience could be from a part-time job, or as part of a role on a society committee, or even from negotiating rents with your student landlord or a discount on your insurance premiums would show that you have what it takes.
3. Make a connection between you and the graduate employer
You should also take the same approach when writing about the employer. Do your research on the firm and use your new-found knowledge to say exactly how you would suit them and they would suit you. How will the employer (and what the employer offers) help you to achieve your career ambitions, and why do you want to work for that property firm in particular?
Beyond the details of property firms’ graduate programmes, you should also research the values of the employer – do they match up with your own personal values? ‘I’m a firm believer that purpose is key to choosing the best employer for you. Level of responsibility, progression and variety of work are all very important factors to attracting you somewhere, but purpose is what keeps you there,’ says Dan Williams, future talent lead at GVA.
Look for opportunities to find out more about an employer, and more about what working at an employer will be like. The best way to do this is through work experience. Whether through internships or a first-year opportunity, there are ways that you can experience first-hand what the culture and environment is like at an employer.
You should also think about the questions you are asking. Whether it’s while networking, at a careers fair, during an internship or at an assessment centre, asking questions about a firm’s culture and practices will impress recruiters and professionals – it shows you are actively considering working there and have a genuine interest in the actual day-to-day of working life, and that you’re not just thinking about how much money you could earn, for instance.