How To [Actually] Read a Real Estate Job Posting

If you’re looking to start a career in real estate, online job postings can be really confusing, and sometimes actually misleading altogether. And if you’re not reading these correctly, this can end up causing a lot of problems for you throughout the job search process.

But after being in the industry for over a decade myself and reading through a lot of these over time, I’ve found some pretty consistent patterns that tend to come up over and over again, and some really reliable ways to figure out what’s actually being said within a job description (and how to “read between the lines”).

So to share my experience and make sure you know what to look for going in to this process, this article walks through three things you need to know when reading a real estate job posting, to make sure you’re both interpreting these correctly and taking the actions you need to take to stand out for the job.

If video is more your thing, you can watch the video version of this article here:

Entry-Level Real Estate Job Experience Requirements

The first thing I want to address here is related to a question that I’m asked a lot by Break Into CRE Academy members, and this is that the required experience listed in a job posting for an entry-level analyst role is almost always an exaggeration of what the company is actually expecting of the candidates that apply.

People tend to panic when they see entry-level jobs requiring 1-3 years of experience in commercial real estate directly, and this can often prevent people from applying for jobs that they could have otherwise been competitive for if they threw their hat in the ring.

And the reason why these experience requirements are often irrelevant for these roles is that the people who have 1-3 years of industry experience are generally applying for senior analyst or associate-level positions, not entry-level jobs. This means that the vast majority of candidates that you’ll be up against will have more or less the same amount of full-time real estate experience that you have, with very few exceptions.

Companies often try to make entry-level positions look extremely selective to make these appear more desirable to candidates, but in practice, most companies are primarily searching for people who understand the basics of real estate finance and Excel, with internship experience being seen as a plus for candidates that have it.

I would even go so far as to say that, if you have every single experience qualification listed in a job description, you’re probably not shooting high enough in your applications. And unless you’re in a terrible job situation that you absolutely need to get out of, applying for roles that seem a little bit out of your league is actually a really good thing and can be one of the best strategies out there to advance your career.

The bottom line here is to aim high and let the company decide if you’re qualified for a role, rather than voluntarily taking yourself out of the running for a job just because of an experience requirement in the job posting that may not actually matter during the hiring process.

Use The Job Description To Assess Company Culture

My next tip goes back to the process of reading between the lines within these job postings, and this is to use specific keywords that are included within a job description to get a sense for the culture of the company and what your work/life balance would likely be in the role.

If you see a job posting where a company describes itself as a fast-paced, dynamic, or entrepreneurial firm, or you see job responsibilities that include meeting tight deadlines, managing multiple tasks at once, or assisting as needed across various parts of the organization, this can give you a lot of insight into the amount of hours you’d be working in the role and the overall demands that would be placed on your time.

When you see these keywords, this is usually a tip that the company is either small and trying to grow quickly, or the general culture within the organization includes extremely high expectations of employees. Either of these things often result in long work weeks, requirements to juggle a variety of different tasks at the same time, and deadlines that can often feel unreasonable, requiring night and weekend work on a relatively regular basis.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in my experience, these can actually be some of the most valuable opportunities you can have early in your career. However, if you’re looking for more of a work/life balance in your job and you want to be as efficient as possible with your applications, looking for these keywords up-front can save you a lot of time that you would have otherwise spent applying for these types of roles.

And if you’re looking for jobs that do offer a more manageable work schedule, there are also keywords out there that are positive indicators of a company’s work/life balance. These include terms like “generous vacation time”, “comprehensive health insurance plans”, “paid family leave”, and “company 401(k) matching”, which all tend to be much more indicative of an established company culture that’s built to retain employees and keep people happy over time.

If you’re young, primarily focused on your career, and have very few responsibilities outside of work, you may find these types of roles a little bit boring, and you might not see the kind of career progression that you may have hoped for in positions like these. However, if you’re looking for a more stable work environment with a better work-life balance and, in most cases, a bigger team that you can lean on that would allow you to focus on only one or two specific job functions (and actually unplug when you take a vacation), these types of keywords are what you’ll want to look for.

Use Job Posting Specifics Within Your Cover Letter and Resume

The last thing I want to mention is directly related to your applications and what you’re actually doing with the information that’s coming from these job descriptions, and this is to use the specifics of a job posting to your advantage when crafting your cover letter and resume.

In many cases, a job description is telling you exactly what a company is looking for, which essentially makes this a “cheat sheet” that you can (and should) be using to customize your applications and highlight these things in your own skills and experiences.

For example, if the responsibilities of a job include conducting market research, this is a direct indication that you should be adding any applicable market research experience you have directly to your cover letter and resume, to showcase your abilities to tackle these tasks.

A lot of people only take this so far as to parrot back the terms that are used within a job description, essentially just listing these at the bottom of their resume in bullet point format. Unfortunately, this doesn’t do anything to actually prove out your skills, and often just makes it look like you’re covering up a lack of experience.

So to go about this the right way, if a job posting says that the company is looking for someone that’s highly organized with strong communication skills and a high attention to detail, you should not just list these things on your resume, only saying that you have these traits. Instead, you should be using past experiences from work or school to show these things in your application, often without ever using these exact words.

For example, if you see in a job description that a company is looking for someone that can excel in a fast-paced work environment, instead of just writing out the words “strong work ethic” under a “Skills” section on your resume, you should be taking the time to add details about specific projects you’ve worked on in the past that show how you’ve actually managed a demanding workload in practice, ideally in a way that quantifies your work and the outcomes you achieved.

Listing personality traits and characteristics is a lot like adding “Proficient in Microsoft Office” to your resume – both of these things tell a hiring manager nothing about your actual qualifications and skills, and might even make it look like you’re exaggerating your experience.

How To Prepare For The Job Search

Ultimately, job postings can give you a lot of insight into the culture of a company that you’d be working for, how to portray yourself as the most attractive candidate possible, and which jobs you should be spending your time applying for in the first place.

And if you want to learn more about different job search strategies, or you want to make sure you have the financial modeling and analysis skills you’ll need to land an analyst or associate role at a top real estate investment, development, or brokerage firm, make sure to check out our all-in-one membership training platform, Break Into CRE Academy.

A membership to the Academy will give you instant access to over 120 hours of video training on real estate financial modeling and analysis, you’ll get access to hundreds of practice Excel interview exam questions, sample acquisition case studies, and you’ll also get access to the Break Into CRE Analyst Certification Exam. This exam covers topics like real estate pro forma and development modeling, commercial real estate lease modeling, equity waterfall modeling, and many other real estate financial analysis concepts that will help you prove to employers that you have what it takes to tackle the responsibilities of an analyst or associate at a top real estate firm.

As always, thanks so much for reading, and make sure to check out the Break Into CRE YouTube channel for more content that can help you take the next step in your real estate career.

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