How CBRE is Attracting Young Talent to Commercial Real Estate

April 14, 2023 4 Minute Read

Elisa Anna Migliara Jovana Djordjevic

As we emerge from the pandemic, hiring and retention have never been more important.

Gen Zers are entering the labour market with high standards and great expectations for prospective employers to meet.

“The pandemic prompted interesting conversations and made people reassess what’s important to them,” says Elisa Anna Migliara, CBRE Montreal’s talent and culture specialist who currently spearheads their campus recruitment initiatives.

“Companies have to go to great lengths to ensure their value proposition aligns with what candidates are looking for and meet those demands.”

Elisa Anna Migliara
Elisa Anna Migliara

What Gen Z wants

As remote work has gained popularity in recent years, employees seeking a healthier work-life balance have become more intentional in their choice of employer. With more jobs available for fully remote positions, candidates are prioritizing not just a hefty paycheck; they’re also considering a prospective company’s values, objectives and growth opportunities.

In her conversations with prospects, Migliara likes to ask these young professionals what they would need to thrive in the workplace. Here are some of the answers she’s heard:

  • Learning and development: Emerging professionals are looking to grow in a space through training, mentoring and coaching. While this is true of most professionals across all ages, it’s especially pertinent to younger talent who are looking to start their careers and grow.
  • Structured environment: Having a workplace with defined processes and policies in place helps young professionals connect with the tools, people, and resources they need. A structured environment also facilitates younger employees plotting their career trajectories within the company.
  • Openness and communication: The pandemic underscored the need for human contact, and the next generation is looking to feel welcome in the workplace. They want their leaders to listen without judgement and be willing to take action to support their projects and growth.
  • Flexibility: Productivity looks different than it used to, and younger workers value the ability to reconcile work and personal life demands via flexible work schedules. Ultimately, that flexibility is established by trusting that the work will get done effectively, whether it is at home or in the office.


“Building trust with a range of young professionals is critical, and the best way of doing so is by showing up consistently and taking the time to get to know them.”

“These things may seem straightforward, but they require hard work and clear communication between employers and employees to be successfully implemented,” says Migliara. “CBRE gives employees a clear line of sight to build their careers while surrounding them with a variety of experts who are passionate about what they do.

“That’s very appealing to a lot of young professionals.”

Hiring tomorrow’s leaders

Migliara acknowledges that there is still uncertainty surrounding the future of work and the impacts of hybrid work on attracting and retaining talent. But she sees plenty of opportunities to develop more efficient hiring processes and find new ways to help people thrive.

That includes practicing outside the box thinking during hiring by connecting with diverse groups that typically have less exposure to the commercial real estate industry. Encouraging people from marginalized groups or non-traditional fields of study to apply to jobs in commercial real estate could ensure a diversity of perspectives, approaches and ideas.

Migliara also believes that companies can stay relevant and appeal to the next generation of talent by being authentic. Firms tend to offer similar benefits and compensation packages, so their authentic culture sets them apart. Migliara has noticed that applicants are using interviews to learn about CBRE’s culture to see whether it aligns with their values.

“More and more, candidates are asking questions about the interviewer’s day-to-day and their favourite projects. Giving prospective employees insight into your work lets your company culture shine through and shows them that your workplace is worth the commute,” says Migliara.

Creating relationships is essential to effective recruitment and retention. That’s why Migliara is doubling down on her campus recruitment efforts. She’s made it a point to participate in more career fairs, to promote student initiatives on social media and to ensure CBRE’s attendance at all university real estate conferences and panels.  

“Building trust with a range of young professionals is critical, and the best way of doing so is by showing up consistently and taking the time to get to know them.”

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