Reflections on 20 Years of Recruiting in Homebuilding

Yesterday marked my 20-year anniversary of recruiting in the Homebuilding industry for Joseph Chris Partners.  I always say I was taught by the best, my father, Joe Chris Ramirez.

The recruiting industry has given me so much joy these last two decades for the following reasons:

  1. Learning from the future leaders, legends and consultants of our industry with every conversation that I have. The more calls I make the more that I learn, grow and can contribute to others.
  2. Gaining the trust of professionals looking for advice and placement for their career path as well as those looking to hire the best talent for their company. To me, there is no greater responsibility, and I do not take that trust lightly.
  3. Providing support to, and helping to influence the direction of, the fastest growing builders/developers in the country as well as having an impact on local builders where each hire is of immense importance. I love working with each type of client, large or small.  I appreciate that I can choose companies I respect to partner with. Those in the industry trust that I will be introducing them to good companies and companies trust me to bring them good people.
  4. Being a person of influence within my own company and watching the team at Joseph Chris Partners grow professionally and personally. Their success and “the how” they get there means so much to me.  We have amazing recruiters and an outstanding administration team.  I am grateful and fortunate.
  5. Being able to carry my father’s legacy forward. There is no greater pride and honor that I could have.  My mother and father came from humble means and their work ethic, will power and focus on customer service was instilled within me.   I am extremely grateful that they taught me to appreciate the grind and the discipline… the journey for success and focus on “the how” to get there.

Advice that I would give other recruiters to have a lengthy career of trust, value and success:

  1. Have the right intentions!  Lead with your heart, knowledge and experience.  Leave “closing the deal” as important but not in the forefront.   My philosophy is “focus on activity and doing the right thing with ease and grace and money will come from the sky.”
  2. Know your clients and potential employees for those clients well. Spend time with them, know what is their truth is.  Focus on the right fit for both.  Tenure in your placements is extremely important.
  3. Be honest. Tell your clients and potential employees to those clients the truth about what they would be receiving and walking in to.  During the interviewing process share the areas that they need to dive deeper into and the areas of greatness.  The more honest you are the better the fit and tenure of the hire.
  4. Have a sense of urgency. When clients call you, they are already feeling the pain.  When we take on a search, we are making a commitment to our client that their need is in our daily plan.
  5. Study your industry. As stated above, the more you know about your niche the more that you can support your clients and separate yourself from other recruiters in the industry.

I can’t believe 20 years has flown by so fast.  While we’ve certainly seen innovation in our industry over that time, nothing can replace our ability to really connect with our candidates and our clients, and I’m proud of our traditions here at Joseph Chris Partners that make us one of our industry’s greats.  I’ve worked very hard to get where I am, and I feel blessed every day that I found this path.  Joseph Chris Partners is my life’s work, my passion.  It really is true that when you work hard for something you don’t care about it’s just stress, but when you love what you do, you never really work a day in your life!

MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH: The importance of Veterans’ Hiring Initiatives

I grew up in the military. My dad served for 23 years, and we moved around every 3 years throughout my childhood. It was a really good life, filled with amazing people and places, and I credit my outgoing nature to that life. We’d move to a new post, and I’d go knocking on our new neighbors’ doors, asking if any kids lived there, and if they did (they almost always did), I’d ask them to be my friend.
The hardest thing about my childhood was saying goodbye to good friends when it was time for them, or for us, to move.

That’s nothing compared to the difficulties military service members and their families face today. We’ve been involved in armed conflict on multiple fronts continuously for almost 20 years. Families face multiple deployments in the modern military, and many returning service members struggle to assimilate back into civilian life.

We’ve all read the statistics about veteran suicide rates, and divorce rates among military families are higher than the already high national average. It’s a difficult life, but most military families wouldn’t change a thing about it because it’s their duty to serve, despite the personal sacrifices required to do so.
With very few exceptions, most individuals in this country support our military, even if they don’t agree with the conflicts they find themselves in, which is a welcome change from the sentiment the country expressed towards Vietnam veterans, like my dad, upon their return home. But we can all do more. We can do more individually; there are so many ways to help, and a quick Google search will point you in the right direction there.

But we, as business people, need to impress upon the leaders of our companies how important it is to support our military families with veterans/military hiring initiatives. Many returning service members and their spouses struggle to find work despite amassing incredible skills while serving our country. Most hiring managers, however, aren’t focused on what these individuals can bring to their organization and, instead, focus on the words on the resume that don’t appear—at first glance—to fit. Veterans positively impact a company’s culture, are natural problem-solvers, and set the standard for teamwork and work ethic.

Particularly relevant in our industry, where there is a marked shortage of talent, and construction shows no signs of slowing down, so that shortage will continue to grow unless we look for other sources of talent. Several large companies in our industry have recognized this and have implemented focused veterans’ hiring initiatives and are reaping the benefits of those efforts now.

Related Companies Senior Vice President Frank J. Monterisi, Jr., a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Marine Corps Veteran, leads his company’s veterans hiring initiative. He recognizes that veterans:

are very valuable to our company and the overall construction industry. The men and women who come out of serving our country have dedication, a strong work ethic and are exceptional problem solvers—which are great attributes to have when working on construction projects. Construction projects are all about teams and working together. Veterans have great teamwork and can manage through demanding environments with efficient real-time, problem-solving skills. We are happy to bring them on and will continue to keep this hiring initiative as a key priority for our organization.

“The Benefits of Hiring Veterans,” US Veterans Magazine.

Jim Crigler, Vietnam Veteran, Partner of HC2 Capital, and author of “Mission of Honor,” an account of his trip canoeing the entire length of the Mississippi river to raise awareness about Gold Star Families, is a huge proponent of veteran hiring. “If you want leadership under stress, hire a veteran,” Jim said.

Only about 7.3 percent of Americans have served in our military. These are the men and women who keep the rest us safe and allow us to enjoy the freedoms that make our country great. The debt we owe them can never be fully repaid, and we need to honor and support them every day, not just on a few patriotic days of the year. They’ve done their part; it’s time for us to do ours.

For more information about setting up your own veterans hiring initiative, check out:
http://hr.commerce.gov/Careers/Veterans/index.htm
https://www.dol.gov/veterans/Employer-Guide-to-Hire-Veterans-DEC-2017.pdf
https://www.dol.gov/vets/ahaw/

Pay it Forward – Inspiring the Next Generation of Industry Talent

Originally posted by Erica Lockwood as a guest blogger on Meredith Consulting’s website, March 22, 2018.

As we emerge from last week’s “Women In Construction Week” along with the observance of “International Women’s Day”, it seems quite fitting to address not only the lack of female talent present within the industry today but certainly the overall people shortage being experienced across the country. It’s a real conversation that I have just about daily with industry leaders. Reality is this is not a situation that will change overnight. But, I believe it can be transformed with focus and intention.

Recent statistics have revealed that less than 15% of the total construction industry is made up of women. While a predominantly male dominated industry, I am a believer that with the right outreach and education, we could do much more to encourage young women to consider our industry as an exciting and viable career option. The opportunities are endless and having a concerted effort to make sure young women who are considering career possibilities hear this message is vital.

I have observed a recent trend within a handful of companies where women have been promoted into leadership roles. For example, Taylor Morrison Homes has impressed me with the career advancements and the openness to provide not only leadership roles but also entry level opportunities to women in the workforce. A recent post by Taylor Morrison stated, “women make up 49 percent of our workforce, 30 percent of our executive team and Taylor Morrison is the only publicly traded homebuilder led by a woman chairman and CEO.” Talk about inspiring women to see the possibilities! Way to go Sheryl Palmer for leading that vision!

I perceive mentoring opportunities as one of the most viable avenues for awareness and outreach. Local home builder associations are typically quite involved with a variety of educational outreach programs, for instance, Junior Achievement. This program creates opportunity for discussions geared toward elementary, junior high and high school students, creating interest and spurring curiosity. I encourage our industry to be keenly focused on education and mentorship of our future leaders – young men and women alike.

Although this week had much to celebrate it also felt a huge loss as we learned of Bill Pulte’s passing. Mr. Pulte was a mentor to so many. He inspired creativity, growth and vision to so many of today’s leading industry professionals along with some of the most forward-thinking and impactful entrepreneurs I know. If each one of us might consider paying it forward in honor of Bill Pulte, we may just reach some of tomorrow’s most amazing and creative men and women industry leaders. We can all make an impact – one young person at a time!

JCP EARNS BACK-TO-BACK FORBES “BEST RECRUITING FIRMS” RANKING

I am excited to announce that for the second year in a row Joseph Chris Partners has been ranked by Forbes as one of AMERICA’S BEST RECRUITING FIRMS. Since my parents Joe and Victoria started our company back in 1977, we always strive for excellence in all areas of our business. It is, of course, an honor to make the list, along with so many respected companies, and we here at JCP appreciate all the clients we’ve consulted with to help them build their teams and the candidates who trusted us to help them take the steps in their careers.

As CEO and President, I am very proud of our team that works hard to continue the legacy my parents began over 40 years ago. People make companies great, and I am thankful every day for the people on the Joseph Chris Partners team.

Congratulations to our friends in the industry who were recognized as well.

Now, back to the phones!

Veronica Ramirez

It’s not about placements; it’s about relationships and commitment.

I can’t believe in two months I will have been with Joseph Chris Partners Executive Search for 16 years. Wow, what a ride it has been! 16 of some of the best years of my life, and still going strong.

Thinking back over those 16 years made me decide I might share what made all those years worth it for me, even during the downturn, with all of you. There are so many “recruiters” out there; some call them “Head Hunters”
( I don’t know about you, but I have never “hunted heads” in my life!). But back to my point… in general, those individuals who just throw paper at clients to see what sticks leave the rest of us with a really bad taste in our mouths.

What is it they say? KISS: “Keep it Simple Stupid”. For myself and my ilk, it’s not about making placements. Sure, we all need to eat, but I have never considered myself in sales. Our founder and former CEO used to love to argue that I was most definitely in sales, and when it comes down to it, of course that is true; but I have never in 16 years felt like I was selling anything!

When you choose the right companies to work for, and you know that company inside and out, and you truly believe in them, their culture, and consider yourself an extension of that company, there isn’t anything to sell. All that is needed is honesty and the rest falls into place. I spend face-to-face time with my clients whenever possible. I have crawled through homes under construction and put mud boots on during rainy land development days. I become a part of their team.

Many times, I have foregone placements. When I discover something, or have a feeling that something isn’t right with someone I have already presented, I will tell my clients point blank: “Hey, I know I sent this person to you, and I know you like them, but I am now letting you know that I no longer have faith in them and I am advising you not to hire him or her.” That kind of committed partnership with your clients is why most of the clients I have, I have had for going on decades, and the new ones that I get, I keep.

Same thing on the candidate side. Most of my clients started out as my candidates or came to me through referrals. I treat my clients and candidates as if they were part of my family. I know all about their spouses and children, even their pets, hobbies, and passions. I truly care about putting a company and a candidate together that will be a forever relationship. Who wants to do a replacement search? I guarantee my candidates. Fortunately, I’ve only had three replacement searches in 16 years out of hundreds of placements.

So, always keep it real, and remember to just KISS.

HOME BUILDING’S YEAR IN REVIEW: 2017

What a year it has been for Home Building!  With the market really starting to bounce back, we have been very busy this, Joseph Chris Partners’ 40th year in business.

It has been the year of mergers and acquisitions.  We saw Lennar, America’s #2 ranked home builder, put up $5.7MM to acquire CalAtlantic, the nation’s fifth largest home builder; which very recently was the product of a Standard Pacific Homes and Ryland Homes merger itself.  Lennar is now the largest home builder by revenue and is in 24 of the top 30 housing markets across the U.S.

We saw Century Communities grow by leaps and bounds with multiple acquisitions across the country including UPC and Sundquist Homes, and they also went through an IPO.

We also saw Starwood Capital compete with DR Horton to acquire Forestar, a mixed-use, residential builder based in Austin, Texas.  Ultimately, DR Horton won the game.

And just last month, we saw Invitation Homes merge with Starwood Waypoint; the combined public company will continue operations under the Invitation Homes name.  And, Mattamy Homes announced their acquisition of Royal Oaks Building Group in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, market.   Royal Oaks is the largest privately-owned builder in the Raleigh-Durham area and the fifth-largest builder overall in the market; the operations are expected to be completely combined by Mid-2018.

But 2017 was not without its challenges in home building; specifically, builders everywhere struggled with labor shortages.  According to The Brookings Institution:

“More than 32 million workers are employed in highly digital jobs, while nearly 66 million work in medium-       digital positions, and 41 million work in low-digital ones. Indeed, there has been a massive increase in the share of highly digital jobs between 2002 and 2016, when these jobs jumped from less than five percent to nearly a quarter of all U.S. jobs. Over the same period, the share of medium-digital jobs increased from roughly 40 to 48 percent, while the share of low-digital roles declined significantly, from 56 percent to 30 percent. Roughly two-thirds of new jobs created since 2010 required either high- or medium-level digital skills, and some 4 million, or 30 percent, required highly digital skills.”

Builder Online.Com stated: “Anyone still wondering why young people are not breaking down the doors to sign up to be construction laborers, who rank among the “low-digital” competence occupations?”

We at Joseph Chris have seen this struggle with our clients across the country daily throughout the past several years.  Not enough people entered the industry during the long, drawn-out downturn, and home builders are having to get creative to find the talent they need.

All in all, though, 2017 has been a great year!  Joseph Chris Partners celebrated its 40th Birthday and the year kept us all very busy.  So far, things are looking even better for 2018!