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Going back to basics could help negotiators win the right role

The recent market upturn has sparked a flurry of recruitment drives by firms fighting for the best staff, but candidates still need to remember a few golden rules to attract interest, as Josh Rayner explains.

A Curriculum Vitae is key to determining whether or not a recruiting agency boss will consider a candidate for interview, so it’s crucial that applicants ensure theirs distinguishes itself amid the pile of competition.

To do this, agents need to ensure they clearly detail their excellence, and this should be tailored to the job specification that the recruiting firm should hopefully have provided. For example, if the firm is looking for management experience, detail what experience you have, including the number of staff you managed and their achievements as a result of your guidance, explaining how you were instrumental in this output. Similarly, if they want an agent capable of closing deals, detail the volume of deals you have closed, the timescales involved, and the fees you’ve single-handedly helped generate for the firm. Don’t be afraid to brag about your achievements, including any awards you’ve won.


One of the most common mistakes I see agents make is failing to ensure that there are no glaring gaps on their CV due to, for example, extended periods of travel. Gaps are confusing and may prompt firms to question an agent’s commitment. Nevertheless, agents should be as accurate as possible with their career to date rather than leave a gap, not least because it avoids any embarrassment when the employer sources references. The most avoidable mistake is in failing to run a spell check over the CV. Some firms have introduced spelling and maths tests to ensure the quality of candidates, so job hunters should beware.

The order of the content of a CV is equally important. Firms want to see your most recent position at the top of the CV, not the first job you had when you left school. Many employers are looking for sales and estate agency backgrounds and want to read about your duties and achievements for each position, including full details and, where possible, evidence their sales and lettings achievements and targets.


Assuming the CV has secured an agent an interview, research is the next key part of the job hunting puzzle, and before the first interview takes place. Research the role, the location in which you could be based and the firm you’re going to see. Visit the location to get a feel for the day-to-day traveling with which you’ll be faced, average property prices and the competition. I always advise candidates to mystery shop the agency, whether that involves registering as a potential applicant on the phone or walking into the office to determine the culture of the firm.

A visit to the firm’s website would also be helpful to assess its target market, the average price of its stock and to get a sense of how many properties it currently has on its books. Property portals and trade publications can also help to gauge the firm’s financial performance. If an agent is applying for a senior role, they should consider writing a short business plan outlining what they would do if they were offered the position, which is a great way to show initiative and hunger.


You can never make a second impression, which is why sticking to a simple dress code is crucial. Always wear a suit, even if it’s a heatwave on the day of your interview, and ensure you wear your jacket at all times.

It is always safer to opt for an outfit that ires on the conservative side; you can always relax it once you have the job. For men and women, this typically means wearing a white shirt or blouse, a conservative tie for men and black shoes. Employers tend to steer clear of fans of black shirts and brown shoes. Jewellery should be kept to a minimum and any visible tattoos should be concealed.


Ensure you prepare some suitable questions for the interview. These could relate to the retention rate of the firm or the interviewer’s thoughts on local market performance; in short, anything that demonstrates your genuine interest in the role and the firm itself.

Candidates should avoid asking about remuneration, the number of hours they are expected to work and what the firm’s sick pay and holiday entitlements are in their first interview. In terms of paperwork, candidates should ensure they take three recent pay slips with them to prove their achievements to the interviewer.

An interviewer will typically be mulling two things at the end of the interview: is this person capable of performing the job, and does this person want the job? To ensure you stand the best chance of getting the job you must demonstrate your interest at the end of the interview. This is the most important part of the interviewing process.

I advise all my applicants to ask the interviewer whether they have any reservations, which make them think they wouldn’t be suitable for the position. This allows the interviewer to see that they’re serious about the position and shows that they can close a deal.

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