The three habits of highly successful Building Surveying talent

The Current Environment

The unique economic cycle we’ve been living through these past seven years has had a profound impact on the hiring attitudes of the Building Surveying (BS) communities. The aftermath of the downturn led to extremely cautious hiring at a time when few were willing to move. Each new hire went through a rigorous selection process.

Then, from 2011, in the scramble for rare BS talent, we experienced an air of desperation. The incredibly selective hiring practices gave way to swift offers being thrown around to secure the much-needed talent.

Behind this shortage of talent was the exodus of BS workers in the downturn. Many Building Surveyors sought jobs abroad or completely new careers, people were also staying put at their current employers, and finally, a shortage of graduates were being trained up.

And now we have activity again, people are willing to make their move. Investment has increased confidence all round, and people are shopping around for new employers to boost their career and earnings.

Consequently, hiring managers are becoming more selective again due to the volume of CVs landing on their desks. But these clients face the challenge of getting their offers accepted by candidates, which may have three other offers on the table.

The candidates that are in most demand have a highly desirable blend of skills. What we at Oyster are calling the ‘New Talent Mix’.

The Talent Mix

I’ve seen the candidates with a particular mix of skills succeed at a phenomenal rate. To help the consultants who want to go from good to great, I’ve listed the three complementary, magic ingredients you’ll need to succeed.


The foundation of every good BS is built on the traditional skill-set – an eye for detail and meticulous reporting – plus a passion for the sector they work in. These skills (and passion) are then honed across all aspects building surveying, servicing both project and professional types of work.

In fact, getting the right project experience to boost your CV has never been more important. Clients are demanding very specific project experience from their surveyors. Consequently, we’re seeing the consultants with the most rounded skill-set command the highest fees and salaries.

Vision and Innovation

The second skill blends vision and innovation. A great BS can take the most basic of client briefs and add value. For example, one of our candidates took a simple brief to carry out a building survey, and also explored the specific details of the building. Allowing the surveyor to consult with the client about plans of action for the building. This further investigation uncovered adaptions to the lease that led to the client saving millions of pounds over several years. Guess whom that client asks for now on their projects?

People / Sales Skills

The BS players with this third skill harnesses the first two skills – Traditional and Vision & Innovation – with ‘softer’ communication and sales skills to develop client relationships. Consultants with this magic mix of skills are able to build enough trust with clients, that they can advise them with fresh innovations and new perspectives on properties.

And because clients want to get their expert advice directly from the consultant within a firm, they become the go-to guy. Often forming long term working relationships that go beyond the current employer. As a result, they become invaluable to the current employer because if they lose the consultant, they lose the client.

“My career really took off once I’d started building client relationships. I was able to propose new ideas that clients valued which made me their go-to guy” Recently placed candidate.

Skills Mix: The Sign Posts

As a recruiter, specialising in Building Surveying, there are two clear signs my clients and I look for when recruiting these multi-skilled surveyors. First, we review the candidates LinkedIn profile. We gauge the quality of their profile, by the number of quality connections they have (150+ is expected), and by assessing their contributions to industry news and articles. Do they have an opinion and a voice?

Secondly, at the senior level, we conduct a forensic analysis of the CV to establish how many clients they’ve kept through their career. Especially when they’ve changed companies; a sure sign they’ve taken clients with them, and have strong relationships with them.

Can You Develop the Talent Mix?

Now I appreciate these skills can seem daunting bedfellows, but you can develop them. To start your journey ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I in a role with an opportunity to deal with clients, and if so, am I adding value to my clients?

2. Has my current employer offered me projects that will give me access to clients, opportunities that I can use to demonstrate my skills and experience?

3. Am I building up my network, do I have a healthy volume of industry contacts on LinkedIn, and do I have a voice and opinion in the industry?

4. Am I continually developing my skills and gaining the new experience I need? And can I present my solutions convincingly to clients, can I sell ideas, can I build great business cases for my proposals?

Next steps

You are very busy building your career; you know what value a great network brings. You only trust advice from experts in their field.

To have a successful career, you must, therefore, apply this same rigour when choosing a recruitment agency.

Does your recruitment agent know which career paths will give you the greatest chance of achieving the New Talent Mix?

If not, it’s time to talk to Oyster, we look at the person and their career, not just the CV. We’ll help you get the roles that will broaden your experience, and we’ll help you build your network. The result: you’ll become unstoppable in the market.

If you want further advice on the New Talent Mix and further evidence of its power in the market contact me, Rob Cawood, on 020 7766 9000.
Email: Robert.Cawood@oysterpartnership.com