How to get a job in property
Property can be a competitive sector, but there is a well-defined route for graduates to follow to become a property surveyor or planner. To become a property surveyor or planner graduates can join a graduate scheme with an employer. Employers can include property firms, firms that specialise in a single function of property, such as development, and organisations with large property portfolios.
Applications for property graduate schemes tend to be open from around October to around December. If you’re in your final year of an undergraduate degree or postgraduate degree, you should apply now for graduate schemes starting after graduation next year. The application process for most schemes usually requires you to initially send a CV, covering letter, and/or an online application form. You can find out more about each of these different stages below:
How to write impressive graduate property CVs
Your CV needs to include details of your education, your work experience and your skills, achievements and extracurricular activities. Make sure to keep your CV up to date and it’s important to tailor your CV to the property industry and to the employer in question. You want to showcase the skills and qualities that the employer specifically wants to see in their graduate property surveyors, so it’s important that you do your research before you sit down at your keyboard.
The experiences on your CV doesn’t need to be directly relevant to property, but you should be able to talk about how they relate to the job you are applying for. You can expand on how exactly these are relevant in your covering letter or application form.
Creating impressive property covering letters
Covering letters are your opportunity to build on the details you presented in your CV and application form. If you’re given the option to do so, you should always submit a covering letter. Recruiters want to see you create a narrative which shows recruiters why you are the right person for the job that you are applying for.
You should format the covering letter like a letter you would post – it should include paragraphs on why you are good for the role and why the employer is of particular interest to you, which should be wrapped up in a confident opening and a polite ending. Remember to close by thanking the employer and advising them of when you would be available for interview.
Larger property firms run formal internship schemes – applications are open now! Deadlines tend to be in March or April. Many large property firms' graduate schemes have now closed to applications and will be holding interviews and assessment centres throughout January and February.
Top skills to get a job in the property industry
To make sure your application is tailored to the property industry, you want your application form, CVs and cover letters to show you have the skills and competencies to be a successful property surveyors. Take a look at the following list of essential surveyor skills and think of experiences that you can talk about that demonstrate you have developed them:
- Communication. Property surveyors will be working with people and clients from different backgrounds and will need to be able to communicate their own viewpoint in a clear manner. Negotiating skills are another important skill for surveyors and planners to have. Property firms may include presentations as an exercise in assessment centres in order to evaluate candidates' communication skills.
- Relationship building. Property is considered to be a 'social' sector as there is a focus on building and maintaining relationships with clients and other property professionals. Surveyors and planners may need to work closely with clients, developers, construction firms and planning authorities. You can develop your networking skills and get job-hunting advice through attending formal networking events.
- Commercial awareness. The property sector is influenced by, and in turn influences, many other industries. Employers are looking for candidates who are able to see how current affairs will affect the property industry and are able to stay up to date with industry news. Clients of property firms will also be from many different industries and, in order to advise them in the best way, surveyors will need to have an understanding of the goings-on in the client's industry.
Read more about staying commercially aware in the property industry.
- Attention to detail. As property professionals work closely with clients, attention to detail is crucial as any mistakes may impact your employer's relationship with this client. Preparing reports and planning applications and carrying out property valuations also require a strong attention to detail. This can be developed through work experience, such as updating a database.
- Entrepreneurialism. Surveyors and planners need to be able to spot opportunities to increase the value of land and make the most of these as they present themselves. Joining or setting up an entrepreneurial society at university, or even starting your own business, can show employers that you have this skill.
- Find out more about the skills that property recruiters are looking for here.
What is it like to work in the property sector?
Surveyors and planners are based in offices and their work typically follows a standard nine-to-five pattern. However, large amounts of time will be spent travelling to sites and properties or visiting clients. There is also a significant social aspect to these roles and networking is not uncommon. These can occur out of hours.
Do I need to network or join a professional body?
Whatever stage you're at in your degree or job search, networking can be an invaluable resource for gaining advice. It can be as easy as attending a dedicated networking event, using the contacts you already have or joining in with conversations online. Networking may even lead to finding out about internship or job opportunities.
Membership to a relevant professional body, likely to be either the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), will bring a number of benefits that may be useful throughout your job hunt and the upcoming academic year. As well as access to a number of academic resources and publications, you will also be able to attend networking events or talks, enter property-related competitions and even get involved in volunteering opportunities. These can help you get noticed by employers and will supply you with concrete examples to point to in applications and interviews that will demonstrate you interest in the industry.