There comes a time in every career when you need a change. Whether you’re ready for a new challenge, you want to make more money, you’re unhappy where you are or you just want a fresh start, you’re ready to find your next great job. But that can be a difficult leap to take. Where do you start?
If you’re a self-storage manager who’s ready to “fly,” you may be wondering where to find other industry positions, how to let your employer know you’re interested in other opportunities, and how to make the transition to a new role. Like many things, it takes preparation. Here are a few critical steps to follow
Know Your Motivation
First, ask yourself why you want a new position. Here are a few common reasons why self-storage managers seek new employment:
- Their facility is being sold, and the new owner wants to hire his own staff.
- They aren’t making enough money.
- They’re ready for a new challenge, and the owner can’t or won’t promote them.
- They’re feeling “burned out,” or just bored.
- They want to move to a new location.
- They have a conflict with an owner, supervisor or coworker.
Whatever the reason, you need to identify why you’re looking to change and factor it into your plan.
Prepare Your Materials
Begin by writing a résumé. You have about 15 seconds to catch the eye of a prospective employer, so this document is vital. Keep it to a single page. You aren’t trying to sell yourself here; you’ll do that in the interview. Keep it simple. Use bullet points and action words. If you don’t know how to write an effective résumé, research the topic online or hire someone who can draft one for you.
Also, get letters of recommendation. This can sometimes be easier said than done, but it won’t hurt to ask for a testimonial from your current owner or supervisor. Along this vein, always ask tenants for Google or Yelp reviews, and keep any awards or mystery-shopping scores you’ve received over the years.
Another good tool to have in your arsenal is a spreadsheet that tracks occupancy and income at your current facility. These statistics can demonstrate how well you perform over time.
Begin Your Search
Now you’re ready to begin your search! Where you find your new position will depend on your preferences and level of outreach. Whether you’re interested in being hired by a large, corporate entity, a small management company or an independent owner, it can be advantageous to keep an eye on industry development and growth to see which operators are expanding and may have positions available.
There are many employment websites you can use to find self-storage positions including CareerBuilder, Craigslist, Indeed, Monster, WorkingCouples and ZipRecruiter. Don’t forget about industry trade magazines, websites and forums as well as placement services that specialize in self-storage. All can be extremely helpful.
Another strategy is to network. Ask other managers in your area if their companies are hiring.
Vet Potential Employers
Investigate the track record of any potential employer. Get to know its reputation and how it treats staff. Once you’re armed with enough information, eliminate any companies that don’t meet your criteria and focus on the ones you believe would be a good fit.
If you’re interested in working for a larger self-storage operator, visit some facilities and ask the managers what they do and don’t like about working for the company. Any intel you can gather will be helpful. See if you discover something about the culture, training programs, bonus structure, level of staff turnover, whether managers are mystery-shopped and more. You can do the same with a smaller company, though you’ll have fewer people to ask, and it’s more likely that they’ll talk to one another.
Disclose Your Intentions
Many self-storage managers who seek new positions do so confidentially. They worry that if their current company hears they’re looking for a new job, they’ll be let go. The decision of whether to discuss an employment search with your employer should depend on why you’re looking to make a change. For example, if you need to be closer to an ailing parent to help with his care, then it’s certainly understandable why you’d want to leave.
Sometimes, talking to your employer about your intentions has benefits. In fact, it’s possible you can find what you’re looking for internally without having to leave the company! For example, if you work for a large operator and feel burned out, consider asking to be moved to a new location. If you’re clashing with a coworker, area manager or supervisor but you like working for the company, perhaps you should speak with someone higher up about the problems you’re experiencing.
Prepare to Interview
Once you’ve been contacted for a personal interview, whether in person or via a teleconferencing platform like Skype or Zoom, you must be prepared. Dress professionally, be well-groomed and have a copy of your résumé. Remember, the process isn’t a one-way street. Be ready to answer questions and ask some of your own. The interview is the time to go into detail about your work history and any lapse in employment. You’re there to sell yourself.
I recently hired a manager about whom I had concerns based on his résumé. He had changed jobs about every eight months, which is normally a red flag for me. But during the interview, I learned the reason for his jumping around was because he’d worked for a temp agency. The lesson is if you have gaps or weaknesses in n your résumé, the interview is your chance to explain your history and convince the potential employer of your merit. Be ready to answer questions such as:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a facility manager?
- How would your current or last supervisor describe you?
- How would your coworkers describe you as an employee?
When answering, be honest. If you believe you could use more training in sales, marketing or customer service, say so. Perhaps follow up with a question like, “What training do you offer in those areas?”
Once you’re offered a new self-storage management position, be professional and give proper notice to your current employer of at least two weeks. Perhaps even offer to train your replacement. Always be respectful to your current company, supervisors and coworkers. Never speak ill of them, whether to a new hire or prospective employer. Remember, you’ll eventually need a reference from this period in your life, whether now or in five years. Your professional reputation is worth its weight in gold, so don’t tarnish it with poor etiquette. Best of luck in your search!
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].