Everything Social Housing

“Seeing the transformation of towns and cities, and knowing that you've played a part in it is special”

Just over a decade ago, the social housing sector well and truly piqued the interests of our Moxie co-founders, Sam Cooper-Woolley and Rich Thomas.

After moving to Wales and working within the housing sector for a number of years, Sam experienced first-hand the appeal of recruiting within the social housing sector.

We sat down with Sam to find out more about his journey so far and what’s going on in the world of recruiting for property and development professionals.

Tell us Sam, what is property recruitment and development recruitment?

Property recruitment covers everything to do with maintenance. It could be trades and labour, compliance, health and safety, assessing the condition of properties, and ensuring standards are in line with government regulations. All these jobs help to ensure the property is fit for human habitation and provides a comfortable living environment for tenants.

Development recruitment is just as it sounds: developing and building new flats, houses, tower blocks and much more.

Where does decarbonisation fit within this within the social housing sector?

Unfortunately, there’s a massive imbalance between the amount of people needed for the initiative and those who are qualified to carry out the work. Not to mention the standard maintenance programmes which will be running alongside retrofit which have already been pushed back and delayed because of Covid-19, so the sector is still playing catch up.

I believe figures have shown that 400,000 skilled workers are needed to carry out retrofit works, but there’s only around 200,000 with the necessary skills required. This means there's a huge imbalance between the availability of relevant people and the need to start up-skilling the existing workforce, whilst also bringing new talent into the sector.

How did you adapt to Covid-19 and the effects it has had on property and development?

Covid-19 changed the landscape of the recruitment world. We all saw more and more organisations becoming comfortable with allowing people to work from home and providing a good degree of flexibility with remote working. This meant that the available talent pools grew exponentially, because people didn't have to travel as far for work, and so the housing sector became accessible for more candidates as the opportunities increased.

I think it's been a benefit in one sense for organisations that may have struggled to attract local talent that can now rely on remote workers. But it's also created a much higher demand for areas with lower wages, and some organisations still struggle to attract the best talent given that in other areas can probably offer more money.

Organisations needed to do more to attract the right people, such as offering increased flexibility, competitive salaries and so on. This is something we can help with and research for the organisations we work with so they can ensure they bring in the best people for the job.

But it’s about more than research here at Moxie; we put a lot of emphasis on building strong connections with the organisations and candidates we work with. Some recruitment providers focus on one or the other, but there's a massive benefit in ensuring you provide a quality service for both.

We're fairly informal with how we deliver things, so it feels like we're creating friendships rather than business relationships. A lot of the organisations we work with are quickly becoming good friends, and I think that goes a long way.

What skills does a recruiter need to find talented property and development professionals?

I think it boils down to fostering a positive network and making sure that you're keeping in touch with people over the course of the year. A lot of the work that we do is through our existing network and utilising the connections we've made over the past seven years.

I think resilience is another important one. There can be quite a few knock backs in recruitment, so you've definitely got to have the tenacity to be able to pick yourself back up and keep on going. Time management is a pretty big one; since starting up Moxie and trying to juggle many plates, my prioritisation has definitely gotten a lot better! And I think just having a friendly approach with everyone goes a long way too.

What attitude and personality traits do you look for in property candidates and development candidates?

The social housing sector is massively under-appreciated and the people that work in it are all amazing; they’re all contributing to an important social mission. Therefore, those working in property and development roles need to be aligned with the values of the social housing providers they’re working with.

I’d say key traits are being honest, transparent and fair. It also would suit people that have an interest in making a difference and supporting local communities. The rewards that you get, as well as the support and flexibility, mean that it's a sustainable career and suits many people. We generally look for people that are socially driven and keen to align themselves with the values of the organisations that they want to work with. Read more to learn about what a career in social housing involves.

What makes you so passionate about working in the property and development side of the business?

Seeing the transformation of local towns and cities and knowing that you've played a part in it is really special. I find the property side of things really interesting, seeing the new developments going up and homes being improved upon and knowing that the placements that you've made are having a positive impact on the local community is a great feeling.

The friendliness of all the people in the sector is also a bonus. The social housing sector is very cohesive and collaborative, so everyone’s really happy to share ideas and work together. At the end of the day, everyone’s contributing to the same mission, so it’s a very engaging and friendly sector to be a part of.

And finally, what are your aspirations for Moxie?

Building Moxie so far has been an amazing adventure with my co-founder, Rich, and the rest of the Moxie gang. We have a lot of big plans coming up.

We’re going to be focusing on decarbonisation and retrofit recruitment which will cater to the decarbonisation agenda of the Welsh Government over the next 20 years. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, don’t hesitate to get in touch – Chloe is our lead recruiter for decarbonisation roles and will be more than happy to answer any questions.

We'd also love to grow the team to become a bit of a one-stop shop for housing associations, making sure that we can cater to all of the roles that they go out with. I'm also really excited to grow the team further in 2023, which may potentially mean a move to a slightly bigger office, which will be exciting for sure.

And we’ll continue to support the social housing and charity sectors. It’s been a really exciting last few years as Moxie has become an integral part of the sector. We’ve also continued to really push our charity initiatives like Working Wardrobe and The Moxie Foundation too.

The Working Wardrobe project continues to grow and has four new hubs confirmed to open in 2023. Growing The Moxie Foundation financially is also a goal for 2023 as that would mean that we could contribute more to the individuals the foundation supports.

Seeing the transformation of local towns and cities and knowing that you've played a part in it is really special. I find the property side of things really interesting, seeing the new developments going up and homes being improved upon and knowing that the placements that you've made are having a positive impact on the local community is a great feeling.
Sam Cooper-Woolley
Co-Founder, Moxie People