Job Seeker Strategies

This month's column focuses on the job seeker because the fraternity of unemployed in our industry is growing rapidly as the housing market declines.

By Rodney Hall | December 31, 2006


We usually approach this column from the perspective of an employer. I'd like to focus this month's column on the job seeker because the fraternity of unemployed in our industry is growing rapidly as the housing market declines.

The last time I saw our industry go through such a major downturn was back in the days of RTC (Resolution Trust Corp.) in the late 80s. Since then, snail mail, faxes and FedEx have been replaced by the ability to blast a resume to hundreds of people with one keystroke. The Internet has changed the rules and tactics of the game, much to your advantage — but with some work. For those of you facing unemployment, here are tips to get back into the job-search arena.

Resume Primer

First get your resume in order. DO NOT use a Summary of Qualifications or Career Objective at the top; it's a waste of valuable space and people rarely read them.

The same goes for the laundry list of career accomplishments on the first page. And don't title it "Curriculum Vitae" unless you're applying for a position at Oxford.

The best resume format is clean and concise. Besides your name and contact information, limit your resume to company name and location; positions held (including dates employed); a brief description of the company's product line or niche if it is not a recognizable name; core responsibilities in two or three sentences; closed unit volume, revenue and profitability; direct reports and number of staff; and two to three key accomplishments.

Just the Facts

As you begin networking, I recommend sending an introductory e-mail that includes your basic career data in the text body. This will help the reader learn more about you without having to open an attachment.

Note that attachments are one of the key triggers for SPAM filters. Leaving an attachment off will improve the chance of your e-mail being received.

The same is true for messages with HTML; send the message in plain text format instead.

Think Like A Headhunter

It will take a few days to exhaust your personal network and the myriad resume posting services such as or Next comes a more targeted approach.

Begin by identifying geographic markets that interest you. Narrow it to the top 10-20 builders in those markets through new home guides and similar online resources, then identify senior executives or owners.

Send them an introductory e-mail or letter, then, repeat the process for other markets. This will require work on your part but results in a more targeted job search. You'll also be much more familiar with the local market if you get an interview.

Good luck and best wishes to all of you in 2007.

Rodney Hall is a senior partner with The Talon Group, a leading executive search firm specializing in the real-estate development and home building industries.

Useful Links

Lists of local builders councils can be found through

Look for publicly held builders at

Interviewing Tips

To learn about behavioral interview techniques, check out 

You can find interview tips in our past columns viewable through our Web site,

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Sample Resume


Each job’s description on your resume has several basics you want to be sure to include. Rodney Hall suggests using a structure similar to this:


XYZ Homes, Tampa, FL

VP Construction (1999-Present)


XYZ is a builder/developer of entry-level and move-up homes in the Tampa market, closing more than 400 homes for $67 million revenue in 2006.

  • Responsible for all construction, purchasing and customer service departments.
  • Staff: 2 Area Construction Managers, 1 Director of Purchasing, 1 Warranty Manager. Total staff: 26 employees.
  • Reduced production time from 178 days to 142 days, increasing profit by more than $400 per house.
  • Reduced hard costs by 4 percent through subcontractor/vendor partnering programs.
  • Instituted training for customer service staff which helped improve Would Refer ratings from 85 percent to 92 percent.


Quick Contact


An e-mail expressing interest in future openings is a great way to put yourself on a company’s radar. Here’s an example of how to touch base with a simple missive:




We met several months ago at the Builders’ Show in Orlando. At the time, I was VP Operations for XYZ Homes in Tampa. Due to the market slowdown, my position was one of several eliminated during a recent downsizing. I’m hoping you will keep my information on hand in the event you hear of an opportunity. A snapshot of my career appears below. A more detailed resume is attached. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.


John Doe


John Doe, Tampa, FL



XYZ Homes, Tampa, FL                               VP Operations (1999-2006)   
a Construction Manager (1997-1999)


Acme Homes, Naples, FL                               Production Manager (1995-1997)


ABC Homes, Ft. Meyers, FL                          Superintendent (1992-1994)


Florida State University                                    B.S. Business Administration (1992)












































































































































Talon Group Web site


Related Categories

PB-Human Resources,PB-Best Practices