Thanks to advancements in technology, the average surveyor’s working life has markedly changed over the past few years. What skills should the modern property professional possess? Is experience sought over qualifications? Is it better to be a tech wizard or a stunning salesman? Three recruiters share their insights on the skills and qualities they are seeking most – and what candidates will need in the future
Show that you can see the bigger picture
Business development consultant Gary Williams is founder of Questas Consulting in London
Recruiters get excited by people who go above and beyond the technical. These skills are essential, but in a highly competitive work environment, you need to show what else can you bring. We often talk about “the rounded professional” – but we find that, as long as you’re good enough technically, clients aren’t necessarily interested in whether your qualifications are better than the next person’s. But this doesn’t mean you should hope to get away with being below average.
To become a rounded professional, it is essential to be a confident communicator. It’s fair to say that built environment professionals often prefer the comfort of efficiency, practicality and logic. But, if you do think you are an introvert, it is possible to learn techniques that can help you form stronger relationships. Nevertheless, our research shows there is no correlation between your personality type and being good at client relationships or selling skills. Again, it is about learning the best techniques suited to you.
Sometimes the expert professional can be too quick to come to a solution for a client – although it’s often hard-wired into them to be like this. But, now and then, it is better not to pounce on an answer too soon. Show that you can see the bigger picture and have the open-mindedness and flexibility to listen and consider options.
Both employers and employees have something to offer
Richard Gelder is director of Hays Construction and Property in Nottingham
The starting point for recruiters is qualifications, and chartered surveyors already have a huge advantage over non-professionals. But, to be irresistible to an employer, you must show how your experience aligns to their needs, as well as have an excellent command of soft skills. This can fall into areas such as commercial acumen, the ability to work in new teams, relationship building, customer service and problem solving. Employers are impressed by people who come ready-made with those points, but can also adapt.
Technology is changing the surveying world. For example, drones are increasingly used for residential surveying. Does this mean all surveyors in this sector should become drone experts? Probably not, but there is a degree of inevitability that such technologies will become the norm in some aspects of the job. So, it is worth having an awareness that today – and especially in the coming years – you have to be able to keep up. It might be a piece of software, or style of remote working that a company needs you to comply with, which makes adapting to technology a smart thing to do.
There are many opportunities to self-educate, and employers will help develop you – it makes sense for them to not let you get left behind. Both employer and employee have to offer something to keep the relationship moving forward.
There’s greater appeal from surveyors who are tech savvy
Matthew Siddons is a talent acquisition manager for e.surv Chartered Surveyors in Nottingham
Ideally, you’ve got to be technology savvy. I’m not saying employers would necessarily turn away surveyors who are not, but there is greater appeal from surveyors who can hit the ground running with the latest industry tech. Whether that’s having a good working knowledge of Q-mobile or BIM, or knowing the ins and outs of the latest construction touchpad, willingness to work with new tech is definitely a bonus.
As with any industry, personality counts. Surveyors can have pretty lonely days immersed in their work, so you should get involved with sociable activities if they are on offer from a company. Surveyors have adapted well to this over recent years, and are getting much better at socialising. This helps you be a better team player, and these kinds of soft skills are also essential for growing closer client relationships.
There is currently a retirement bomb on the horizon. The average age of surveyors is somewhere in the late 50s – and many are considering retirement options. Therefore, in the coming years, there will be a race among corporates to offer more opportunities to younger surveyors who are at an earlier career stage in an effort to bring that average age down, and maintain the company’s technical expertise. There is going to be a lot of expertise lost from the older group that may never be recovered.
Originally published in RICS Modus January 2019. Read in full here.