Expert Advice for Landing That First Job in the Apartment Industry

Earlier this week we wrapped up our 2012 Apartment Careers Month. We saw tremendous participation in this year’s event as more and more of our affiliates and corporate partners took advantage of the opportunity to let others know about the many careers available in our industry. As part of Apartment Careers Month, NAAEI hosted two webinars. The second of these was held on Feb. 29. While the complete webinar will soon be posted on our Learning Management System for viewing by anyone, I wanted to share with you some of the insights offered by our speakers on “How to Find That Apartment Job and Ace Your Interview.”
 
Rob Rector of Gables Residential, Michelle Betchner of Pinnacle and Jamie Preski of Equity Residential offered tips on not only where to look for apartment industry job openings but also how to prepare for a job interview and how to follow up after the interview is over. Bulleted below are some specific tips, but they offered two key takeaways:  do your homework -- on the job requirements and on company/apartment to which you are applying – and be able to show how your skills and experience make you the best candidate for the job. These sound easy, but they take a lot of preparation. If mastered, then these two tips can help you distinguish yourself from other applicants.

Other tips offered include:
  • Job Search: Learn the industry lingo. Companies will use different job titles for the same function. For example, some will use “property manager” while others use “community manager.” Identify those terms most relevant to the position you seek, and use them to search jobs posted online. Great online tools are Google Search and Indeed.com, which pulls job postings from all over the web. Take advantage of LinkedIn and Facebook to learn more about individual companies and to search for openings. Joining relevant LinkedIn Groups also provides a great way to learn about issues in the industry.
  • Resume: Tailor your resume to specific positions and job openings. Identify keywords used in the job description and find ways to incorporate those same words in your resume in ways that are relevant and that highlight your own background. Keep your resume to one page in a clean format that is easily readable. Proof your resume carefully and then have someone else proof it for you. Industry hiring managers look for people with strong written and verbal skills, and the resume provides a great way to highlight those skills – as well as your attention to detail.
  • Cover Letter: If possible, including a cover letter is always a good idea. Use it to briefly describe why you are the best person for the position, citing examples from your background.
  • The Interview: Dress professionally (suits are always a good idea for both men and women), allow plenty of travel time to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early, do your homework on the company and the position and prepare a few thoughtful questions to ask about the job. If possible, visit the apartment community that has the open position so you can see the community through the eyes of a prospective resident. Going that extra mile demonstrates your interest in the position.
  • Follow Up: Do not pass up an opportunity to re-engage. Within 24 hours, send a brief “thank you” email that reiterates your qualifications or a few of your takeaways from the interview. Also, take a few moments to mail a handwritten thank you card. Both show engagement and thoughtfulness.
 
These are just a few of the tips offered by our panelists. I encourage you to share this information with anyone interested in a career in the Apartment Industry and encourage them to visit here to learn more. Both of our Apartment Careers Month webinars will soon be available online for viewing anytime. Of course, the webinars are free of charge.