Hiring and Supporting Millennials in the Real Estate Industry


“Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch.” In my opinion, this pithy analysis of millennials, those Americans who hit adulthood around 2000, holds true.

As one of the leaders of a local real estate brokerage that covers a five-county region, my work often involves interviewing and hiring millennials. I find them to be an absolute delight. I think often – and fondly – of that provocative quote because in my experience, it’s true:  millennials tend to put great value on building the lifestyle of their dreams. For them, quality of life comes first – and careers have to fit into that plan.

Just consider some statistics about this huge demographic group we hear so much about:

  • There are about 79 million millennials in the U.S.
  • Their purchasing power is about $170 billion per year.
  • Millennials will comprise half of the U.S. workforce by 2030.
  • 31 percent of millennials say they earn enough money to lead the kind of life they want.

Clearly, if for no other reason than self-preservation, we need to understand millennials. No wonder, then, that older generations like my own, ask what exactly do millennials look for in a job, workplace and a career? I think the job interview process offers a great place to start.

Access to innovative technology tools helps attract millennials. But it’s not the main thing. They might want to know if you understand the significance, say, of social media, in achieving business success. (By the way: your answer needs to be yes. They expect you to have the right tools.)

In interviews I conduct, we go through a detailed list of questions. My goal is to understand a person’s motivation for beginning a career in real estate. There are nuts and bolts questions, too. For example, do they understand the reality of working completely on a commission basis?

But remember, millennials often expect interviews to be a two-way conversation. Don’t be surprised if interviewees ask you to describe your company’s workplace culture and the ways you give back to the community.

Following all of that – and even if I know we want to make a job offer – I encourage job applicants to interview elsewhere before they make a choice. That helps them compare us to other workplaces. I’d like to think we compete well on that level. Over the years, we’ve developed into a Lifestyle Company because it’s the right thing to do and, to be candid, because when things are good at home, they’re usually good at work, too.

I also conduct a “debriefing” session after they’ve worked with us for a while. I say, “I’m curious, tell me what helped you decide on us?” Often their response is something like this:
“I felt that you were the only brokerage that seriously interviewed me. The other places simply said ‘come on in, you’ll do great here.’” That tells me we got it right. We’ve communicated. And that’s important.

To keep good employees – and to attract talented millennials – you must truly care and be engaged with staff. You can’t fake it. And you have to back it up with actions. This is a profession where there are typically few days off unless you schedule one. People can burn out. To avoid that, management needs to encourage employees to schedule some time off.

Like a lot of us, millennials want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want a progressive community with good schools, an active cultural life,  aplace where they can find a balance between careers and life outside of the workplace. And they want to be heard and to make a difference.

I admire them for it. And I think that managers who listen and respond to those very human needs stand a good chance of finding success in business.

The average realtor today is 58 years old. The average buyer is 33 years old. Our industry is going through tremendous change. The millennials, like all generations before, will help determine the future. In fact, they have already started.

Brad Platt is one of the owners of Century 21 Northland, Century 21 Sleeping Bear, Northland Property Management and Northland Vacation Rentals.