Apartment Jobs: On Hiring - "Experience, They have to have Experience!" - Written for MultiFamily Insiders

Over the last few months, I've worked with several clients, and advised several friends, as they were going through the hiring process to add new staff members to their companies. 

"I want someone with experience," they'll say to me.  "Gag," I'll say in return.

Well, no, I don't say it.  But I think it really loudly.

Don't get me wrong, experienced employees are a definite asset to any company.  You spend less time training them, you don't have to watch them as closely, and you can just assume they know what they're doing, so you lose less production overall.  But let's take a moment and think about the other things that the "experienced employee" comes with, because, after all, it's a package deal.

  1. Their potentially jaded opinion of the business and of your company.  This is what usually is doesn't come out during the interview, but is stored in that sizable chip they keep on their shoulder that you start to notice pretty quickly after they're hired.
  2. Their idea of how "business is done" in property management.  Sometimes as a manager, the nicest thing you can have is an employee who respects your methods, organization, and decisions.
  3. Their bad habits.  I'm not necessary talking about them picking their teeth with the mail, though that's not out of the realm of possibility with some folks I've seen.  No, I'm talking about the bad habits in customer service and professionalism that some people who've been working in our industry have developed over time.  Things like not standing up to greet a client, eating at their desk, being "above" certain jobs, etc. are very detrimental to your work place and once someone develops these kinds for habits, it's kind of hard to get them to change without substantial head trauma.

Back in the day when I worked as a temp staffing agent and trainer for property management,  my best employees were the ones who had no experience.  I'd recruit people from retail stores, from hospitals, from restaurantsand even people who I saw a spark in as I sat in a coffee shop and chatted with them.  These were the people who, when they attended the training, were throughly engaged in the process because they didn't think they knew it all.  They wanted to learn, wanted to impress, and were willing to work hard to get the permanent job. 

Should you dismiss folks with experience? Nope. But you might consider taking that, "Requires 2 years experience," line out of your employment ad.  Invest in training and make people your own.  Don't jump for the hiring shortcut.

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