How to Stand Out in the 30 Under 30 Crowd

Check out these tips for what young real estate professionals should—and should not—add to their application.

As the deadline to apply to become one of this year’s class of 30 Under 30 draws nearer, we checked in with an association executive who was active in helping one of his local members—Jacquelyn Briggs, broker- owner of Firebird Realty in Phoenix—receive the honor in 2012. Like many involved in leadership at the local level, West Maricopa County Regional Association of REALTORS® CEO Roger D. Nelson Jr. sees value in helping young, active members gain the recognition they deserve on a national level.

“Any time a member of the association is honored, the association as a whole is especially proud,” says Nelson. “Jacquelyn has been an active member of our local YPN, leading with distinction, encouraging others to get involved, and making a difference not only with our members but with the community. She has assisted in continuing our efforts to communicate to the public that REALTORS® are one of the most valued assets of the community.”

Nelson's advice to 30 Under 30 candidates is to discuss the application with mentors, local association leadership, YPN peers, and others in the business. It’s important to get thoughts and feedback on the application questions and letters of recommendation to accompany the application, he said.

“Let others assist in telling your story,” said Nelson. ”As an active member of the association, [this candidate] has been instrumental in the association’s success. Now others can assist him in achieving this success.”

Worried you don’t have the chops to apply? While numbers are important, judges also look for qualities of innovation, leadership, involvement, and the ability to overcome setbacks. REALTOR® Magazine strives to have a good mix of honorees who showcase the best-of-the-best in real estate, from all parts of the country, different specialties, and various backgrounds.

The first step is to apply.

“You can’t win if you don’t apply,” said Nelson. “Being a REALTOR® is tough. Being a young REALTOR® is even tougher. Not only does this program recognize those for their success, it also provides an opportunity for all others to mimic the successful strategies of these young REALTOR® leaders.”

Here are some dos and don’ts from members of the 30 Under 30 application evaluation team.


  • Answer every question.
  • Be specific. For example, explain how you deliver the highest level of customer service, why your website is the best, how you get referrals, and so on. Tell true stories from your business experiences. Real examples are the most compelling.
  • Think about why you’re best at what you do. Numbers are important, but judges look at a lot of factors—innovation, challenges, leadership, involvement, and more. We always strive to have a good mix in our 30 Under 30, from all parts of the country, different specialties, and different backgrounds.
  • Explain how you’d like to be involved with your association and community (if you’re not already) and tell us what you might bring to the table.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! Then have someone else proofread your application.
  • Get letters of recommendation, preferably not from your managing broker or family member in the business. Consider mentors or past clients.
  • Include a professional business photo.
  • Submit a video! Recording a video that's 2 minutes or less allows you to personally introduce yourself to the judges and gives you extra time to explain something that didn’t come up in the application. Upload your video to your own YouTube account and send the link to


  • Exaggerate your sales numbers. Keep in mind that round numbers are less convincing than more specific numbers. For example, use an exact figure like $10,481,643 instead of rounding to $10,500,000.
  • Say you got your license to help people buy their dream home. Instead, explain why real estate is the path for you.
  • Name “age” as your greatest challenge to overcome in real estate. Remember, you’re competing against other young professionals.
  • Tout your use of Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or an iPad as incorporating technology into your business—unless you’re doing something exceptional with those tools. Give specific examples of your innovation.
  • Make blanket statements. For example, don’t just say that if you were president of NAR you would raise the barrier of entry to the industry. Justify your assertions; explain specific barriers you would institute and what the results would be.
  • Use any of these words (or their synonyms) to explain how your colleagues would describe you: happy, cheerful, hard-working, go-getter, ambitious, or driven. What would they really say about you? Are you a workaholic? First one in the office, last one to leave? Willing to put a client first at any cost? Consider sharing a funny story or an actual quote from a colleague to set yourself apart.