By Aiman Attar

Being great at sales and giving exceptional service to customers doesn’t necessarily translate into someone being a great leader and manager.

I recently worked with a Realtor for seven months to hire an office manager for her team. Let me say that again: SEVEN MONTHS! I presented her with some of the industry’s best office managers, both licensed and unlicensed. What I experienced in that time and what the candidates were put through during this period was completely unprofessional and I was shocked that this was coming from someone who is renowned in her industry.

From this incident, I have come up with three recruiting warnings you should heed.

A good manager is someone who has a great handle on her business:

Someone who continually can’t take your call, can’t return your calls, can’t answer emails or text messages, is someone you should be wary of. In short, the manager who continually drops the ball on communication during the “courtship” phase of your business relationship is demonstrating that this is a normal business practice for her. There are always excuses: high-peak season, understaffed, being sick, client emergencies and so on. But they are just that: excuses.

Once in awhile, we all have an emergency but when it is a weekly or even daily occurrence, you must wonder as to the individual’s time management skills. We all must deal with managing our schedules, but professionalism dictates that we control our schedule: it doesn’t control us.

During the seven months working with this Realtor, I saw my messages go unreturned, candidate interviews being missed at the last minute, candidates dragged on for months and never hired and so on. Getting post interview feedback from her was like pulling teeth. Business relationships don’t have to be this difficult, and if they are, it’s time to end them.

The recruitment process is a great opportunity to see someone’s mental organization, decision making and thinking process:

A business leader, salesperson or manager needs mental clarity. They must come to the table with a clear job description and straightforward expectations of what they will give and what they expect.

This Realtor was going at it the wrong way. She was trying to create a job description to fit a candidate that she liked, rather than being clear on her needs first and then looking for the right fit. She was constantly changing the requirements to make it suitable for someone she liked, on a personal level.

While a certain degree of personality compatibility is required when you are going to work closely with someone, some of the candidates she liked didn’t make a good hire on a skills basis. However, she preferred to adjust her business rather than invest the time in finding the right fit, both in skills and personality. This left the candidates and I feeling lost, confused, frustrated and disappointed, time and time again. Leadership that is chaotic will breed an environment where even the most successful candidates from other teams will fail.

The rule in recruitment is hire slow and fire fast:

Unfortunately, this was clearly not the Realtor’s methodology at all. Her recruitment process dragged on for so long because she was unable to decide. It left candidates feeling put off. Most people would prefer to be rejected than remain in limbo.

Hire slow means interviewing the same candidate two to three times, putting them through some testing, all within a two to three-week period, and then making a decision. To drag candidates along for months, never making time for thorough interviews, and instead relying on nothing more than a casual chat, is not a solid basis for hiring. Never making time for testing or proper reference checks are indications that there will be no time downstream for training, support or ensuring the work is done effectively.

Clarifying your needs before you hire is key for a successful and beneficial hiring process that gets the staff you need in place efficiently. If you’re not sure who you are looking for, you won’t even begin to be able to manage them effectively. So, start there and finish with a happy team.

The former owner of Imaginahome Inc. and former Realtor at Re/Max, Aiman Attar is the managing partner of AGENTC: The Real Estate Recruiter. She has worked in the real estate industry for over 10 years with Toronto’s finest, most accomplished Realtors. She decided to dedicate her talent and experience to helping you hire the best candidates to build your business. Email Aiman.


  1. It’s a long standing reality that great sales people rarely make for good management, in part due to the nature of the required personality. However! The worst communicators ” in the world” are HR people and recruiters, the very people who should know better. Try getting a response to a job application. The silence is deafening. Something like “you’ve got to be kidding” or ” get lost” (or worse) would be better than silence.

    • Hi Bruce,

      You are absolutely right. Application systems often have a long form to fill out and then it feels like your resume goes into the dark abyss. I’ve been on the receiving end of that silence and hate it.

      We make a huge effort to answer every applicant – but in all honesty, when you receive 200-500 resumes per job posting, often duplicates and people not even remotely qualified for the position, it does become daunting to answer everyone individually. The ATS (application tracking systems) are sometimes not the most user-friendly to streamline a process that is efficient.

      It’s something we take seriously and hopefully will be able to come up a practical solution for all parties. However, we are renowned for being accessible and responsive by text, email, cell – to any candidate we are working with.

      All the best,

  2. Aiman,

    One of the best and most useful articles ever published on REM. But just one question: why did you spend seven months trying to change the personality and methodology of this agent who was technically your client, whose pitfalls you could see quite soon after engaging? The old adage comes to mind: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

    Just curious, not criticizing. Bringing another question: how do you charge for your services? By contract, by the hour, and how do you decide who you can help most. What prerequisites are involved in running your type of business? Specific HR training?

    Perhaps a mirror-image might be the prequalifing comment I made at a recent REM article:

    Carolyne L ?

    • Thank you Carolyne for your kind words and questions.

      Relationships are hard to end whether personal or professional. I invest so much time talking to the Realtor. This particular Realtor would apologize continually, and like any bad relationship… I kept hoping it would get better. I initially believes all the excuses. The Realtor was swamped, that’s why she needed my help. There were family emergencies she needed to deal with etc.

      Then I finally got to the point where I could recognize that this was habit and not just a series of unfortunate events in her life.

      I charge a flat-fee for our services. We now do a needs assessment and pre-qualified who would make a great employer and a great client. We definitely do not sign up everyone just because they are looking to hire.

      If you have any other questions, feel free to email me direct at [email protected]

      Thank you,

      • If your background is in HR, you are likely familiar with Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality tests. If not, you might find it a generalized starting point that would save future painful experiences. Combined with many other tests, you might trip over a few Mensa types (that don’t necessarily make good management candidates/team leaders), along with a savant scholar or two among the findings… Genius in some arenas, not so in others.

        Many years ago when I was young and new to the world of business, I recall being shocked to learn that professionals such as doctors were very disorganized and had no business skills for assessing who to hire to pick up the slack. I had my GP for 35 years, and one day she shared some shocking such information with me. So obviously the problem you are setting out to solve is endemic in all careers.

        Text book knowledge management-material does not necessarily make for real or appropriate management, in real life. The intervention of grid patterns regardless of what is being assessed, whether viable credit worthiness, or skill sets can be misleading in and if itself, leading assessors down a garden path.

        You can’t beat a good handshake, good command of the related language, and good eye-contact to round out the clarity of HR findings. Especially in our field, although certainly not the exception. In particular as I’ve said so many times, we’re in the people business, buried in paperwork up to our ears.

        With the huge numbers of registrants, you have plenty of possible clients to choose from.

        Carolyne L ?

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