It’s been a busy start to ‘life after lockdown’ and with the lead up to summer gathering pace, many inventory providers and letting agents are now recruiting great, experienced and reliable inventory clerks and property inspectors.
As we all know; recruiting great inventory clerks can be quite tricky and rarely straightforward.
Finding the right candidate is not an exact science – our industry needs are in some respects unique, especially as the role is generally self-employed and mostly driven by the numbers. Needs are controlled by the number of tenants moving in/out, so can sometimes be unbalanced and somewhat unpredictable, making supplier retention a real problem.
As with most tasks, planning is key to getting the right person for the job. The following 5 steps will help you to think about the process and get everything in order ready for when you offer the position to your ideal candidate!
- Recruiting inventory clerks
You must have a firm understanding of what you want from a clerk in terms of their knowledge, skills, abilities, and of course their availability.
We all know that a service is as only as good as those that work behind it; both forward-facing and back-office support, so getting the right candidate with the right skills is key to ensuring you can continue to deliver the service your clients expect.
Service levels increase and decrease throughout the year, more notably during the summer periods and winter months. By adopting a forward-thinking approach and planning for when you will need additional clerks and support, this will enable you to keep service levels up and maintain good customer relations.
Think about: how many clerks you need before the busy periods start so that any training or orientations are already in the planner well before you need them out and about in properties.
Setting a budget to advertise and complete the recruitment process will help you understand where best to focus your attention in regards to the various recruitment options. This includes platform listings like those on Linkedin or Indeed.
Indeed – sponsored or advertised for a fee
Linkedin – paid advertising or within groups you are members of
Employment agencies – these can be costly and may include contracts that tie you into their services for longer than you may need so do your research
Your website – free advertising and allows the candidate to see how you operate and the services you provide
Word of mouth – speak to other clerks as often family members or self-employed clerks they know may be looking for work
Think about: how much are you willing to pay for advertising; how long should the campaign last and how many roles are you wanting or expecting to fill? Factor in the cost of your time and effort to run a recruitment campaign as it can be a lengthy process.
- The Role
The role of a clerk is, in a way, fairly straightforward. However, the skill set required is more complex. In order to attract the right candidate, you need to be very specific about the job itself and what you require when recruiting inventory clerks. By understanding what your needs are you are more able to provide a detailed description of the role. You should list not only the requirements of the position but also the characteristics and qualities that you are looking for. This will help to minimise any time wasted on unsuitable candidates and will help the potential new clerk to understand exactly what is expected of them.
Think about: what are your expectations of a quality clerk; do they need to be experienced, can you offer training for inexperienced or clerks relatively new to the role? Do you need people that can ‘hit the ground running’ or do you have time to bring them up to your standards?
Most job advertisements request a CV (curriculum vitae) however reviewing them can be a laborious process, especially if you haven’t set out exactly what it is you hope to see in the document.
Asking the right questions in the job description will help anyone applying for the role structure their CV and any covering letter to answer the questions and meet your criteria.
Points to consider:
- how relevant is their experience to the role advertised
- is the CV detailed enough to provide an understanding of their abilities
- do they showcase the flexibility needed for the role
- are they mobile and comfortable using IT
- do they have any disabilities or specific needs that you need to facilitate
- are there any gaps in the employment history that need further explanation
Think about: are you attempting to fill the role because you just need ‘boots on the ground’ or are you looking for experienced, quality candidates that can enhance your team?
- The Interview
With some form of social distancing likely to continue for the foreseeable future, face to face meetings are having to take a back seat but that doesn’t mean you can’t still carry out the interview.
Using platforms like Zoom, WhatsApp or Facebook means you can schedule a convenient date and time to ‘meet’ and get to know the candidate. They also get to meet you as a good interview is a two-way discussion as the potential clerk will want to ensure that your service is an equal and good fit as you yourself need.
It also helps you understand how they are likely to interact with your client base. First impressions are key to ensuring that the letting agent / tenant or landlord receives the very best service possible from all members of your team.
Ask questions but don’t just ask just any question; prepare for the interview the same as if it was face to face. Questions should be focused, robust and relevant to the role but equally not so intrusive as make the candidate uncomfortable so consider what you need in regards to information that either the CV does not provide or that you want to clarify.
- tell me about yourself
- why did you become an inventory clerk
- can you give me an example when you have had to deal with a difficult situation at a property
- what would you do if unsure about how to describe a condition issue
- how do you manage your appointments so that you are not late to a job
- Reference checks
Asking for a reference from a previous employer should be a key component of your recruitment process so that you can gain a real understanding of the candidate, their integrity and trustworthiness. They are not only representing you and your service but they will also have access to both your client base, and more importantly access to potentially millions of pounds worth of property.
You should request a Basic Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS) for every candidate. Also known as a DBS Check, Basic Disclosure or CRB Check); it is a criminal record check that disclose cautions, reprimands, warnings & convictions unspent according to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/disclosure-and-barring-service/about
Think about: do they have insurance as a self employed clerk, are they able to provide a copy of the insurance certificate and are there any requirements or clauses from your own insurance provider that need to be considered
You’ve found your ideal inventory clerk and want to get working straight away, but before you rush into anything long term make sure that you have either a contract, SLA or agreement of terms.
Information that should be included (and not limited) to any or all of the following:
- insurance and DBS information; required before they start in the role
- state what you expect of the clerk in regards to availability
- set out the standards of reporting including turn around times
- state how much they can expect to be paid for their work (including when and how)
- ensure they understand what they have to pay themselves such as tax, national insurance, petrol, parking fees or fines, equipment, training
- the benefits of working with you and your team
- what happens if a complaint is made about them or their work including right of reply
- process for terminating the agreement of terms, SLA or contract
- provide crib sheets to help them complete reports to your standard (what to say, how to say it, report style including picture and evidence taking)
- COVID-19 protocols including use and provision of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
- emergency procedures if they are unwell both before they start the working day or if unwell during a report
- standards of dress and professionalism
The other very important aspect of working with inventory clerks on a self-employed basis is to understand all the tax implications and duties of care under Health & Safety that will apply even if you are not directly employing staff.
There is clearly a lot to think about when recruiting inventory clerks. Recruit Great Inventory Clerks – Your 5 Step Guide will help you find the best candidates for you, your team and your service.
You can also listen to our podcast; What To Consider When Recruiting Inventory Clerks with resident host Melissa Guthrie-Noyce from MGN Inventories we discuss the 5 key considerations when looking for and recruiting great clerks.
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