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Changing Jobs in the Self-Storage Industry: How to Successfully Make the Leap to a New Company

There’ll likely come a time when you’re ready to leave your current self-storage company for a new position with another. It’s an undertaking that requires commitment and preparation. This advice will help you make the move successfully, without burning bridges.

Pamela Alton

March 25, 2023

7 Min Read
Changing Jobs in the Self-Storage Industry

This could be the year that you make a change in your career as a self-storage manager and join a new company. There are many reasons why you might consider this. It could be that your facility is on the market or has recently been sold. Perhaps you’re ready to move up the ranks, but there’s nowhere to go within your current organization. Or you might be looking to change cities, states or even countries.

So, where do you begin? How do you make this transition and achieve your goal without burning bridges or leaving hurt feelings behind? The following guidance will help you make smart decisions.

Determine Your Next Move

The self-storage industry offers many career options for facility managers, so first, identify your long-term goals. Of course, pay will be a factor, but what else is important to you? Do you want to work for a larger company that offers more advancement, or is a small, local facility more your speed? What kinds of benefits do you desire? Perhaps you’re thinking about a relocation. Specifying your goals will help direct your job search.

You also need to consider what you’ll bring to a new company. Is there any training or education you need to excel? Have you attended state or national conferences, taken management courses, or obtained a college-accredited degree that would qualify you for a new position? If you have knowledge or skills gaps, now’s the time to address them.

Polish Your Résumé

Next, prepare a professional résumé, if you haven’t done so already. Writing a good one can be daunting, especially if you’ve been at your current position for several years and haven’t updated your document in some time.

Keep in mind that when you’re applying for a self-storage new position, you’ll be competing with other candidates. In fact, most companies receive dozens of résumés weekly. Because they get so many, hiring managers will typically scan them in less than a minute before passing or deciding to move forward with a more thorough review. How are you going to make your résumé stand out? Fancy fonts, photos, long-winded paragraphs and too much personal information probably won’t get you the interview.

My best advice is to keep it simple. Your document should be short and to the point. You don’t need to list every job duty you have. We all know the common tasks for operating a storage facility. Just hit the highlights by providing short, easy-to-read bullet points. Tell the employer what software you know how to use, how many units you’re in charge of, facility occupancy when you started vs. where it is now, and other pertinent information they might want to know.

Most important, include employment dates. If you’ve had three jobs in the past four years, a potential employer will probably see you as unreliable. Hiring managers spend a lot of time, effort and money to find a new employee, and they don’t want to go through the ordeal again in six or nine months. So, if there’s a reason why you’ve held several jobs in a short duration, explain it. You don’t want to be passed over for your dream simply because of a misinterpreted employment history—and you will be asked about it if you make it to the interview stage.

Always include a brief cover letter with your résumé that contains more personal information. This is where you tell the employer why you’re looking to make a change and, more importantly, why you want to work for this self-storage company.

Spread the Word

Once you’ve finished your résumé, you may want to get the word out about your interest in a new self-storage position, depending on your situation. If you’re current employer doesn’t know you’re thinking about leaving the company, then you’ll obviously want to be discreet. Sometimes, however, your company knows you plan to go. In this case, you can be more open about your intentions.

There are several websites on which you can upload your résumé for potential employers including CareerBuilder, Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, Working Couples and ZipRecruiter. Some are free, while others charge a fee. Self-Storage Talk, the industry’s largest and most active online community, has a job forum where you can post, too. There are also companies like mine that specialize in self-storage manager placement. Explore these options to decide which ones best suit your needs.

Putting the word out on your social medial platforms or networking with other self-storage operators is another way to learn about new positions. You should also attend your state or national association tradeshows and meetings. You’ll be able to meet other professionals and might learn about job opportunities.

Ace the Interview

For many self-storage job seekers, the interview is the most nerve-wracking part of a search. Preparation is key to doing well. Remember, your résumé earned you an interview, so be confident that you’re qualified for the position. You just need to demonstrate why you’re the best choice.

Be ready with answers to common questions such as how many units you’ve managed at other self-storage facilities, what industry technology you’ve learned, and how often you’ve executed rate increases. Employers will also ask about your education and training, why you’re interested in working for their company, and what you can bring to the organization. This is your chance to align your skills and knowledge with the position they’re looking to fill.

The interview also opens the door for you to learn more about the position and company. You can inquire about specifics such as how many auctions they hold in a year, whether they sell retail products or offer truck rentals. It’s also the time to learn more about compensation, bonuses and any benefits they provide. Remember, interviewing is a two-way street!

Leave in Good Standing

When taking a new position with another self-storage company, it’s important to leave on good terms with your current employer. You never want to burn professional bridges, especially in an industry as intimate as this one. Ask yourself, what can you do to ease the transition for your current company and the person stepping into your role?

Leave the office and facility clean and well-organized. Tie up any loose ends such as rent collections, lien sales or maintenance issues. Put your tenant files are in order and update the software with any necessary comments or notes. Make sure all vacant units are ready to rent. You might also offer to train your replacement. If you do train this person, never bad-mouth the company, your supervisor or other employees!

Remember, your new employer or even the one after that will check your references. Leaving a self-storage company on a bad note could cause you to be skipped over for a position you really want. Instead, leave your facility in better condition, physically and monetarily, than when you arrive, and be as courteous as possible through the whole process.

Start Off on the Right Foot

Once you’ve obtained a position with a new self-storage company, understand that you’ll be trained, regardless of how much past experience you have. Every employer has its own expectations and ways of doing things. Be alert, take notes, ask questions, and be prepared to accept new policies and procedures. No one wants to hear, “Well, that isn’t the way we did it at my last job.”

This is a fresh start, and you need get on board with the new program. Keep an open mind. If you do know something that could help your new employer, bring it up later once you’ve learned how things are done. Be flexible, listen, follow directions, and then offer suggestions once you have the routine down.

In the end, your goal is to find a self-storage company that’s a good fit—for you and vice versa. When you’ve done everything you can to leave your old employer in good shape and are ready to offer your new one 110%, they’ll all appreciate you, and it’ll be a win-win for everyone.

Pamela Alton is owner of Mini-Management Services, which has been placing self-storage managers in positions all over the United States since 1991. She also offers staff training, operational consulting, and facility audits and inspections. For more information, call 321.890.2245; email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Pamela Alton

Owner, Mini-Management Services

Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management Services, a company that has been placing self-storage managers in positions all over the United States since 1991. She also offers staff training, operational consulting, and facility audits and inspections. For more information, call 321.890.2245; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.mini-management.com.

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