You can’t always get what you want; commercial property.

In the property world the big players are used to getting what they want; they win the big projects, they win the awards and generally they work with the bigger clients. Normally, they don’t like taking no for an answer.

Sometimes, they have no choice.  

One of the more common difficulties concerning human capital is concerned is the classic – How much experience does the ideal candidate have to have?

Unless it’s a Graduate the likely answer to this question is that they need to be chartered. In many cases the sweet spot for a candidate is around 5 years post qualification experience (PQE.) I can see why; you’d like to think that someone at this level is reaching the peak of their career and that they are certainly competent right? If you’re familiar with psychology, you may have heard about the 4 stages of competence:

1. Unconscious incompetence - Graduates

The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

2. Conscious incompetence – During APC

Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, they recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage. 

3. Conscious competence – Just Chartered

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

4. Unconscious competence – 5 years + PQE

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

The issue though, with all this in mind, is that there are far more candidates on the market who are 1, 2 & 3 than there are those who have just reached the unconsciously competent phase of their career.


Well here’s my two cents on the matter and this is simply down to economic timeframes. If someone is 5 years post qualified, they would have finished their APC in 2014, meaning they started working towards it in 2011/2012 and likely started university in 2009 or 2010.

Why is this relevant?

This is relevant for several reasons because if you look at the economic climate in 2009/2010, we were just coming out of a double dip recession, not yet reaching a boom. As we all know the construction & property sector was one of the first hits in a recession, especially on the construction side. With a lack of industry confidence there was a drop in university intake in property related degrees.

To coincide with this, something we forget is that our wonderful government decided to raise the cap on university fees in 2010, from £3250 a year, to £9,000 deterring a lot of young people to head to university.

The result of this means we now have a smaller candidate pool to work with as recruiters, to fill the void at that level.

So, what now?

Now, as an employer, you will need to try and be more flexible when it comes to recruiting, especially if you’re a large employer who has less flexibility around salary bands at certain levels. Unfortunately, being a brand is not enough anymore and you may lose out to competition who have more flexibility over what they can pay or even offer in terms of progression. Many businesses currently choose to wait until the perfect candidate comes along as opposed to taking someone who is qualified, but not necessarily experienced enough due to the time and costs associated it takes to get them up to speed.

Let me ask you this, is the time (in most cases many months) that it takes for the right candidate to come along more cost effective than taking someone more junior (yet still qualified), less expensive and probably more willing to learn?

Written by Luke Joy, Head of Commercial at GKR London Property Recruitment.


Tel: 0207 048 3304