"Where do you find your people?!" and "Why didn't your guy go apply through the website?"

I get asked these questions about once every two to three days.  Not to toot my own horn, but the majority of my floating staff members, be it maintenance or leasing, are pretty darned good.  That's WHY they're my staff. 

The context in which the questions usually come up is when a property manager has had or does have  a position open and can't find a suitable applicant to fill it due to things like clean backgrounds/drug tests, office chemistry, skills, motivation to learn new skills, and/or my all time favorite, enthusiasm for the position.

You have a job and you want a quality person for that job.  It's a pretty simple equation that is just the tip of the iceberg from hiring hell.

Well, as a staffer, I'm certainly not about to tell you just WHERE I find my people, but what I'm going to share with you is some questions that came up and some feedback from my people as to why exactly they chose not to apply with your company/property for that full time position. 

"They sent me to a website and that was all they told me."

Does everyone here have an on line application process?  Yes?  GREAT!  I'm very pleased that you do... however, when your encouragement to bring someone aboard with your company consists of sending them to a URL, you're not going to get them to go there.  Hiring is sales.  Pure and simple.  They're selling themselves to you, and YOU should be selling the company to them.  Don't give me speeches about the "economic downturn" and about how people should be glad for any job offer at this point.  I've heard it all before and you and I both know it's total horse plops.  The good people out there will always get job offers, and they will always have their choice in where and who they want to work for.  If you see a rockstar sitting behind that leasing desk, don't give them a URL.  Give them a reason to check it out.  One of my favorite clients told me all of the great reasons that someone would want to work for his company when we first met.  After talking with him, *I* would have gone to apply for his company if I didn't already love my job!  Not only did he sell the company to me, but I was able to sell several of my staff on the idea of getting hired on with  that property management company as a great goal!  It makes staffing his property much easier than some of my others.  People gravitate to passion.  Show yours, and you'll get my awesome candidate's attention.

"The starting wage was SO low!"

Yes, we counter with the discussion of how grand benefits are, but that won't get you past starting someone who is a top candidate at $10 an hour when the job should be paying at least $12-$15.  Sometimes people are naive and you can get them to take that offer, but the majority of people out there are fairly insulted to be told they'll be making less hourly than the folks at the GAP, even if commissions are involved.  People don't see commissions.  Commissions don't translate into real money until you see that first check, but people do see that base salary.  They set their budget by the hourly wage when they're just starting out.  Pay your people what they're worth and they will stay your people.  People say worker loyalty is dead, I say corporate greed is what killed it.  But we can resuscitate it if we try.  If you start people at what they are worth, then you're already ahead.  Someone who feels they are making what they're worth will work harder and happier for you.  They will close more leases, which brings more income, and more than makes up for the additional salary.  We can never recover lost rent on our budgets, so a competent rockstar leasing agent is worth every penny.

"The manager ignored me/ was so rude to me/ treated me like crap until she told me I should apply"

BE NICE TO MY PEOPLE!  Yes, once and a while, as a staffing agent, I will send you someone who has slipped through the cracks, and who will not be good.  (If you call me, I'll fix it! I PROMISE!!!)  Don't assume that every temp is going to be that way, though.  When someone walks on your property for their first day, give them an hour or two to take it all in before you judge them an incompetent bumbling fool.  If you start the day cold shouldered, sneering at them, and talking to them like they're five years old... just remember, first impressions are everything.  They'll remember and I promise you, they aren't going to apply to work for someone who started their day with a crappy attitude. 

"There was so much drama in that office"  which is usually followed with, "Please never send me back there"

Why is there so much drama in your office?  Is it because of a recent managerial change?  That I can handle and I might be able to talk the person in to applying.  Is it because gossip runs rampant and unchecked?  That one, no way I can fight it.  Is it because the leasing staff hates the maintenance staff and vice versa?  Get real.  You'll never get anyone to apply when your staff can't hold it together.  We all know that gossip is both pretty standard and pretty crazy in property management, and that drama is inevitable in about 90% of workspaces.  If you're a manager and you haven't spent anytime listening to what your staff is talking about, or if you have what my mother calls "ostrich syndrome," where if you can't directly see it, it must not exist, then open your eyes and get engaged, because I promise you, my temps have their eyes and ears WIDE open and will avoid working on a permanent basis for a place where the staff is in constant conflict with each other.  Who wants to age prematurely due to unneeded stress in a workplace?  Property management is stressful enough... cut the tension where you can!

Just a few suggestions from someone who hears the feedback you might not.  Take it all with a shaker full of salt if you wish.  After all, it's only free advice.

Want to up your retention? Take a cue from the folks in HR!

Rethinking the "Resident Function" in terms of Retention