How to Stay Afloat in the Real Estate Market
By Kristina Cowan
Industries slammed by the mortgage crisis have seen sunnier days, and so have their workers. Yet all is not lost for employees in these troubled industries, experts say. They can take steps to protect themselves from the real estate market fallout.
Flexibility is key for those who want to stick with their current careers, according to the experts, and so is using technology as a marketing tool. Workers seeking gigs in different industries should tap into their transferable skills.
Living with the Real Estate Market Crisis
Career expert Les McKeown says people trying to stay put in troubled industries should trade fear for flexibility.
"If you are in the mortgage business, start making it abundantly clear that you want more responsibility, not less; don't look like a deer in the headlights. One thing I see happen over and over again is that folks who look most fearful are almost always the ones that go, because it makes them look brittle and inflexible," McKeown explains.
Overachieving can be beneficial, too.
"If you love real estate and you're an agent, I would argue that there's always going to be opportunity for people who are really great at what they do," says Marc Karasu, a career coach and former vice president of advertising and marketing at Yahoo! HotJobs.
Some real estate agents can dodge the real estate market decline by marketing themselves to bring in new business, particularly through Internet services such as Google's AdWords, he suggests.
"More people are learning how to use Google to sell their service. It's a very efficient way to cherry-pick the people who are interested in your services. It doesn't work if you are in a corporation-but if you decide what jobs you take, this is a great way to market yourself," Karasu says.
Doug Vermeeren, an author and motivational speaker, agrees the Internet can help people find additional revenue streams.
"If you're a mortgage expert, look and see if you can offer something to India or China, teaching a correspondence course there about the U.S. real estate market," he explains. "What I'm trying to say is you're only limited by your ideas. I'm not sure about regulations, but if no one's doing it, why not you?"
Finding a Different Path
Another alternative is to opt out of a struggling industry.
Employees should evaluate their skill sets and determine where they will apply outside their current industries, says Jon Bender, managing partner with PrincetonOne, a New Jersey-based recruiting firm. For example, someone in residential real estate may be able to transfer to commercial real estate, he notes.
Kevin Donlin, author and creator of The Simple Job Search system, advises workers to "try to stay where you are and make yourself indispensable, and then have a backup plan where you can take your transferable skills elsewhere."
People should enjoy using the skills they'll be toting, he says. "You can make a direct leap using transferable skills in a new job in a new industry. Or you can get an imperfect job in the perfect company, and after you prove your value, you can get promoted into the perfect job."
Others point to self-employment as an increasingly viable path.
"Corporate America is not going to take care of you the way it took care of our parents. The most recession-proof job in the world is being your own boss and providing good services that people need," says Charley Polachi, a partner at Polachi, a Massachusetts-based executive search firm.
Kristina Cowan is the senior writer for PayScale.com. She has over 10 years of journalism experience, specializing in education and workforce issues. Email Kristina Cowan.