Attracting and retaining the best and brightest is a never-ending story for multifamily operators, a constant challenge.

As the face of your company, a great site-level team is critical to leasing activity, and ultimately, net operating income. But many managers still can't crack the code on reducing turnover.

Yet, if hiring managers cast a wider net and thought a bit more creatively in their recruitment methods, the task of cultivating long-term talent may become a little easier.

February is  Apartment Careers Month, and the National Apartment Association's Education Institute (NAAEI) is seeking to arm the industry with recruitment resources, and maybe a new way of looking at things.

“Our committee has said that companies get too hung up on looking at a resume and looking at what the prior experiences are, versus what skills and attributes a specific candidate brings to the table,” says Sarah Levine, director of apartment career outreach for the Arlington, Va.-based NAAEI.

Levine suggests that managers adjust the way they look at hiring by placing more emphasis on general skills, and less importance on the pigeon-holed points of a resume.

“Core critical competencies are really the hardest to find,” she adds, which includes customer service, marketing and communication skills. Those desired skills are similar in the hospitality industry, which remains a great source for multifamily talent.

One of the most critical steps in retaining site-level employees is making sure they understand their position isn't just a temporary job but the first step in a long-term career.

“What I’ve found is that a lot of people come in[to the industry] as leasing consultant,” says Susan Sherfield, national education director with Denver-based Mercy Housing. “We see high turnover because they see opportunity, and they become hungry for a career.”

Sometimes, companies need to think of staffing in a regional, rather than a property-specific way: if a good leasing consultant doesn't see opportunity where they are, there may be another community in your portfolio that offers more upward mobility.

Sherfield also suggests the managers focus on military outreach; family members who need a portable career to keep up with the military lifestyle are good options for recruitment. Additionally, the pool of talent across college campuses is just waiting to be tapped.

As more four-year colleges offer degree programs and certificates in property management, it brings a certain level of education to the industry and frames it as a surefire career growth opportunity, attracting less floating talent.

“The industry [jobs are] escalated to being perceived as a professional position, instead of a job stopover in between stepping from one industry to the next,” Sherfield says.

The NAAEI has a host of resources to aid multifamily firms on the hunt for new talent, including recruitment videos and brochures, internship guidelines, and a toolkit for recruiting college students, and other resources, here.