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Use the downturn to become a star homebuilding employee


Use the downturn to become a star homebuilding employee

Read how you can position yourself to keep your job while everyone else is being laid off.

By Rodney Hall March 31, 2008
This article first appeared in the PB April 2008 issue of Pro Builder.
Above and beyond

I received a call today from a young man we placed several years ago with a northeast home builder. I assumed he'd been cut in another round of layoffs and was calling to see if we could help. Instead, I learned that he was still employed and doing his best to keep it that way.

However, the reality of the current market conditions — coupled with his role as a land acquisition manager — left him concerned about his long-term prospects. The purpose of his call was to touch base in the event his situation took a turn for the worse next year.

We discussed what his options might look like if he found himself in the job market. We came to the conclusion he'd have a greater employment opportunities in the a commercial, retail or mixed-use sectors. In the meantime, though, I suggested he focus on enhancing his value with his present company by asking where and how he could help above and beyond his normal range of duties.

Some examples:

  • Volunteer to fill in as a host/greeter once or twice a month in the sales offices. Yes, that might even mean working a weekend here and there, but it would be a great way to gain exposure to other facets of the business and save the company the hostess expense to boot.
  • Make follow-up calls to everyone registered (but not sold to) in the past three years to see if they had purchased a home. If they haven't, update their information and pass it along to the sales manager for redirection to the sales staff. If they have bought, turn it into a market research call to learn where they bought, who they bought from and what drove their final decision. This is valuable information most builders have to pay someone for.
  • Offer to help solicit and analyze new bids from subcontractors and trades.

A more extreme avenue is to do the job of two people for the price of one. I know one person who holds the dual role of governmental affairs manager and director of marketing. He only gets paid for one role right now but sees that as a short-term tradeoff for job security.

The bottom line is, if you find yourself in a tenuous employment situation, try to make yourself as valuable to your employer as possible.

It might not stave off the inevitable but it certainly won't hurt your chances either — especially if it gets down to you and someone else with equal experience.

Besides, if you find yourself back in the job market, it will help to add a few bullet points about your experiences in other parts of the business. Who knows, you might even learn something new.

Author Information
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.


Above and beyond

Volunteer as a host/greeter in the sales offices

Follow-up via phone to everyone registered but not sold to in the past three years.

Offer to help solicit and analyze new bids from subcontractors and trades.

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