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.

Do employers require candidates to have a 2.1 degree?

Typically firms will require candidates to have achieved at least a 2.1 or a first. Some job listings will not specify a grade requirement and strong candidates with 2.2s may be able to apply to these.

More options if you have a 2.2 can be found here.

Do property employers want candidates with other degrees?

The majority of vacancies for property graduate schemes and jobs will require you to have studied an RICS- or RTPI-accredited undergraduate degree, such as real estate, property finance and investing, environmental management or urban planning and property development. If your degree is not accredited by a relevant professional body, however, your application may still be considered by employers.

Property firms can recruit 'non-cognates' (a graduate without an accredited degree) who have a demonstrable interest in property and sponsor them through completing an accredited relevant postgraduate course alongside the graduate scheme. However this has become less common because of the extra cost for the employer. Non-cognates will need to prove that they have a genuine interest in the property industry through work experience and research. You can also complete an RICS- or RTPI-accredited postgraduate course before applying, but there a relatively low number of these courses.

Read more about your route into the property industry if you have not studied a property-related degree.

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.

Find out more about the benefits of networking and how you can get started here.

Read more about what benefits membership to a property professional body can have here.

How to impress during work experience?

As well as being excellent opportunities to gain experience and learn about the property industry, internships can also open doors for you during the graduate recruitment process. If you impress and employer during your internship this summer, you may be able to skip elements of the application process, such as by being invited directly to interview. Even if this does not happen, making a good impression during any work experience is crucial, as a positive reference from an employer will enhance any application.

Read more about how to impress your employer during your summer internship or work experience.

Graduate jobs v.s schemes in property

Large property firms will typically only offer graduate schemes, while smaller property firms may offer individual graduate roles. However, candidates should be mindful of whether an individual graduate job will give you the experience required to become chartered.

Deadlines and timetable

Applications for graduate schemes open in the autumn, with deadlines usually falling in November or December. Interviews and assessment centres are usually held in January or February the following year. Recently, a handful of positions have been advertised in the Spring and early Summer. These are more likely to be positions at estate agents and in the property departments of house-builders and construction firms, rather than at traditional property firms.

Find out more about what the role of an estate agent involves.

For more advice on managing the timing of your job hunt check out our handy action plan.

What professional qualifications do property professionals need?

Graduate schemes will focus on gaining a professional qualification known as chartership. This will be with either the RICS or the Royal Town Planning Institute RTPI. This will allow you to call yourself a 'chartered surveyor' or 'chartered planner'. Knowledge of how different graduate schemes are structured and how they approach the assessments to become chartered should be taken into consideration when applying to employers. This can also demonstrate your interest in a particular employer.

Learn more about the role of a commercial/residential/rural surveyor.

Find out more about the role of a planner or a surveyor specialising in planning.

Top skills to get a job in the property industry

Recruiters are looking for graduates who will become successful property professionals and the following skills will show that you have this potential:

  • 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.

The work that you carry out will vary depending on the market and area of property that you specialise in. For instance, in the commercial property market you will work with clients who are motivated by business decisions, while in the residential market you will also encounter people who have more personal reasons for seeking a surveyor's advice


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