What your business needs to attract “A” players

5 min read
Logan Nagel
Published on
October 1, 2022

If you want to improve the efficiency of your real estate organization, hire "A" players. These are star employees who have an outsized impact on your firm's effectiveness. They are the ones who go above and beyond, find more deals, and deliver better outcomes than other workers.

Attracting A-players to your team takes more than just knowing the right interview questions to ask and the proper keywords to include in a job board posting. The nuance comes in the answers to the following questions:

What business infrastructure do I need to attract "A" players?

Why is recruiting without a perfectly-honed job posting a waste of effort?

How do I fully assess an applicant's skills without becoming tiring and onerous?

According to 2021 research from real estate consulting firm CEL and Associates, up to 70 percent of commercial real estate firms are facing a talent challenge. In the competitive hiring marketplace of 2022, real estate firms need to consciously work to make their firms attractive for "A" players. In this article, we'll answer the above questions and give you a guidebook for how to set the stage for game-changing talent.

What is an "A" player and why do I need them?

TL;DR: ‚"A" players are employees who are force multipliers in your business. They are far more valuable at growing your business than low-cost, virtual assistants.

The Peter Principle is a classic business concept that says 20% of effort drives 80% of results. By the same token, the top 20% of your staff are responsible for a disproportionate amount of success.

An "A" player is an invaluable part of a team. They understand the broad vision of the business and architect their daily tasks to push the business forward. "A" players are worth considerably more to the business than their salary.

A common mistake that young real estate firms make is prioritizing low-cost support over hiring "A" players. A $5 per hour international virtual assistant might add a little capacity to your day, but they won't be able to own major business functions like well-paid "A" players.

Develop a clear job description

TL;DR: Don't even consider reaching out to candidates until you have a clearly articulated job description with buy-in from your stakeholders.

There's no mincing words: If you don't have a crystal clear job description in hand, you aren't ready to hire. Beyond the role itself, determine how the new employee will fit into your organization, and how you will measure success. Here are three crucial points to consider:

A no-nonsense job description 

"A" players can tell when a job description is full of flowery language and inaccurate or misleading descriptions of roles and responsibilities. Copy and pasted job postings with too much fluff or corporate jargon are turnaways for high-quality candidates.

Instead, focus on crafting a job posting that uses short and to the point language, clearly explains the full scope of tasks responsibilities, and informs the applicant of the roles they will be working with, reporting to, and managing. 

Stakeholder alignment

Be sure that each stakeholder‚ people who will work with the new employee or be impacted by their performance‚ are in sync on what the position should include. For instance, if you're hiring a head underwriter, be sure your originators are fully aware of the role and what you'll be looking for as you work to fill it. There is nothing worse than a candidate inferring partially through the interview process that their future teammates are not aligned on what they are looking for. 

Responsibilities and metrics

Ensure you have a clear organizational structure that describes not only who the "A" player will report to and what they will own, but also the entire web of responsibilities and accountabilities across the organization. 

Part and parcel with this: clear metrics to let your new employee know where they are succeeding or where they may need to make changes. Establish both short-term and longer-term metrics for the role, and explain these metrics during the interview process. 

Be clear on benefits and employee growth

TL;DR: know exactly what benefits and opportunities for growth and learning you'll offer ahead of time. 

"A" players have options. They expect to work for organizations that recognize their value, or else they will find alternate employment. In addition to having their role crystal clear, you'll also need to make sure you have benefits and an HR function that is ready to support them. 

Approaching "A" players with a lowball mentality is a recipe for failure. When it comes to insurance, we've found success using Gusto's insurance offerings. Once you have more than five employees, Rippling and/or Trinet are Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) that can efficiently provide insurance and other benefits.

"A" players will also require clarity on the upside opportunity at your firm. While everything doesn't need to be spelled out from day one, having something in mind for a promotion path, long-term vision for the employee, and any potential variable compensation such as deal participation will be very helpful to line up ahead of time. 

You should also consider learning opportunities. How are you going to invest in your "A" player's career development, whether that is an allowance for their own classes, a formal mentorship program, or beyond?

A plan for hiring 

TL;DR: For "A" players, even a fantastic role may not be worth an unpleasant application process. 

When you are finally ready to hire for the role, be sure you are ready to execute the hiring process efficiently and respectfully. You need to know how you'll collect the information you need to make an informed hiring decision without becoming onerous for your "A" player candidate. 

Consider each and every interviewee touchpoint

Have answers to all of the following questions before you begin interviewing. 

  1. How many contact points do interviewees have?
  2. Is it only their future manager, or their future manager as well as an HR rep? More than that?
  3. How many rounds of interviewing accomplish your screening goals but also send a positive message?
  4. Research from Glassdoor shows that candidates are slightly more likely to accept offers after difficult interviews versus easier ones.
  5. How long does the actual process take?
  6. From resume submission to the "yes or no" how long will your applicants have the process in the back of their minds?

Keep things quick and simple

Across every step of the application process, be very sensitive to timelines. Across industries, HR professionals report an average of 60 days to fill a position with more time needed for senior roles. The time scale for the actual application itself (that is, the online submission of resume and other information), is much shorter. According to research from HR tech company Greenhouse, applications that take over 15 minutes to fill out lose the interest of over 70 percent of applicants.

While asking candidates to perform a test or case study is a good idea (and a cornerstone of our own freelance talent hiring process), never include as part of the interview process real work assignments that you will use in the course of your business. This gives the appearance of taking advantage of your applicants. 

Be sensitive to the time commitment that your test or case study takes. Our case study requires around two hours to complete. Going beyond this without any guarantee of a position could become difficult to stomach, even if the candidate is enthusiastic about the role. 

We hope you've learned something from this article. In future follow-ups, we’ll cover ways to convert "A" player applicants to employees, tools for employee retention, and more. To get notified when follow-ups release, subscribe to our newsletter here.

Subscribe to newsletter
One email per week with interesting interviews from our community of real estate experts.

More insights on 


The strategies, tactics and stories shaping commercial real estate hiring.

No items found.

How to sell an “A” player on joining your firm

"A" player candidates have many career options, so you'll need to sell them on joining your team.
Read more
No items found.

Where to find “A” player commercial real estate talent

Should you outsource your next CRE hire? If you decide to DIY it, where should you look?
Read more
No items found.

How to find top talent in your interview process

These are the candidate quality signals you need to know before you fill your next role.
Read more

Let's get started.

Bullpen is your connection to top commercial real estate talent.