How To Be a Successful Real Estate Agent With No Relevant Experience
Congratulations. You got your Real Estate License! How do you deal with, “I like you, but you don’t have much experience?”
It’s one of the most well-known catch 22’s in Real Estate. No experience, no job. No job, no experience. And it’s never more relevant than when you’re making a major career change. Every client you talk to is wants to see years of experience in sales, let alone selling homes. Every potential client wants to know what you’ve done before:
“How can I get that first foot in the door with potential new clients when I have virtually no experience in my new career to demonstrate?”
And, on a deeper level, you’re not even sure you can deliver something you’ve never delivered before.
“What if I get hired or land my first client and end up being a disappointment?”
But as a career changer moving into a brand-new field, of course you don’t have relevant experience. When your Real Estate resume looks like a long list of irrelevant information, how are you supposed to be taken seriously? How do you get people to pay attention to you, and to give you a chance?
The first step is to know that it’s a problem that it is possible to solve. You’re not doomed to starting entirely from scratch.
You just need to know how to play a different game.
Lead with your story, not your history
We’ve already established that your Real Estate Sales History isn’t a great opener for dialogue with a client in your new field. So what is?
A compelling story.
Richard Branson (and many other employers) doesn’t hire based on experience. He hires based on personality and cultural fit:
“The first thing to look for when searching for a great employee is somebody with a personality that fits with your company culture. Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.”
When you’re not in a room with someone, it can be hard to express your personality and how you could fit into a new environment without traditional experience. And even when you are, nerves and environment can get in the way. The best way to share who you are and where you’re headed with someone is by crafting your story.
And as a career changer, you have a great story.
You’re someone who’s intrepid, curious, and so passionate about the new field you want to break into that you’re willing to take risks. You’re someone who’s not scared of the new and the unfamiliar – and even if you are scared, you’re willing to try anyway. You may not have direct experience of your chosen industry, but you have bucketloads of experience in other areas that could impact a new employer or client in a fresh way.
And that’s what I know about you without even having met you. Imagine the story you have to tell when you dive into the detail.
When you’re crafting your story, think about answering questions like:
- Where have you come from?
- What (positive) elements have brought you to this point in your life?
- What’s the one most powerful reason you have for moving into this new field?
- What are you working on in order to make a shift?
- What do you see you have to offer, even without direct experience of your new industry?
- What do people come to you for help with (where do your natural skills lie)?
- Ultimately, your story is a chance to invite someone into your world. And in today’s career landscape, there are loads of ways to tell your story.
1. Try a skills-based approach
Focus on your story, not your history. Rather than the tired conversation of ‘How Many Houses I’ve Sold’, focus on who you are and what you have to offer. Explain in detail your three or four main (and most relevant) skill-sets and talents.
2. Take an alternative approach
Shoot a YouTube video, build a website to tell your story, or create a blog showcasing your passion for the area you want to move into. Why not share it with them in a captivating way anyway?
Act like a duck
There’s an old saying used in philosophy:
“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
Let’s think about why your clients want someone with more experience? They’re simply looking for proof that you’re the kind of person they’re looking for.
They’re looking for proof you’re a duck.
Someone who has skills that can be usefully applied to what is their greatest asset. Someone who embodies the kind of person they want in the role. Someone who can produce results.
Having experience in a similar role is just one way to prove you are all these things; to prove you’re a duck.
How else could you prove it?
1. Exchange time for experience
Maybe you can’t get paid work for an established company in the industry you want to move into. But there are likely to be plenty of ways you can do the same kind of work on an unpaid basis (or even for a small fee) by finding a Mentor.
Contact Successful Real Estate Agents offer your time on an unpaid basis. This may feel like it’s only a route for those who want to move into the charity sector, but it’s surprisingly easy to find Successful Agents would appreciate a lighter workload. It’s usually easier to get your foot in the door with smaller organizations, so target small organisations that inspire you and tell them your story.
What projects could you do in your spare time to build up experience in your chosen profession? Who do you know who would really appreciate the work you do? You could offer your time to friends or family, or ask them to put the word out with their networks about the services you’re offering.
If you’ve got skills, there’s even a good chance you could get paid for small freelance jobs in your spare time as a Real Estate Assistant. How many Real Estate Agents could be out there who can’t afford a full-time, in-house employee, but would love some work done for a lower fee? Look for companies or Agents who look like they could benefit from what you have to offer, and approach them with a great pitch and a reasonable price.
3. Be what you want to be
Who says you have to get paid for something to ‘be’ it?
Take on your new direction as a part of your identity, and immerse yourself in the work you’re passionate about.
If this was already your full-time career, what kind of time and energy would you spend on professional development? What books would you read? What newspapers or blogs would you follow? What would you spend your time doing? What would you need to do to be at the top of your game?
Start a blog on the key topics in Real Estate. Invite people who work in that industry to be interviewed for your blog or a podcast. Focus on researching one key area of your future profession (bonus points if it’s a problem area) until you feel confident enough to talk about it, and then see if someone will give you ten minutes to speak about it at an event.
As you build up your knowledge and explore your new profession from the outside, chances are you’ll start to be noticed. And even if you’re not noticed immediately, when it comes to talking to a potential employer, you’ll have something solid to show them.
If this is truly a career you’re passionate about, these kinds of actions will be fun and inspiring, as well as providing you with a duck pond to be seen in. Speaking of which…
4. Hang out in the pond
Birds of a feather tend to hang out in the same ponds. And the best way to prove you’re a duck is to spend as much time as possible in the right pond.
Where could you go to be around the right people, and to become part of the community you want to join? Seek out talks, seminars, and events. Even if you don’t need new qualifications to move into your chosen profession, you’ll gain great experience (and make some fantastic connections) by going to classes relating to your new industry.
Stuck for where to look for these kinds of events? Find a company that inspires you and give them a call. What industry events do they know of that would be interesting for you to attend? Can they recommend any publications or websites to keep an eye on?
Hanging out in the pond is often known as ‘networking’, but there are so many negative connotations to that word that I prefer to chuck it out of the window altogether. Networking doesn’t have to be something that only top-level executives do. It doesn’t have to involve forced conversations over canapés, trying to be something you’re not, or trying to be impressive.
An authentic, curious conversation in a duck pond is the most effective way to connect with the people who can help you out. And if you’ve followed some of the steps above, you can even relax into being the person who can offer value to the person you’re speaking to, rather than feeling like you’re begging for a leg-up.