Lessons from the Mortgage Industry
I have never owned a house. I’ve never even bought something worth more than $2,000 for myself. And I thought that was a big purchase. So in arriving at Percy and recruiting for career professionals in mortgages, there was a lot of learning that needed to be done. I didn’t know an underwriter from a processor, or what retail versus wholesale mortgages were. But I have gained a few big takeaways that are worth sharing.
Don’t worry – I now know what the difference between an underwriter and a processor is. Actually, I now know a lot of the basics. I’ve hired Processors, Underwriters, Closers, Funders, Shipping Coordinators and more. At first it was a challenge to make sense of all of these positions, but I’ve found that the best way to understand each role was to speak with applicants. 80% of my learnings have come from asking candidates questions, and them clarifying their answers. For example, I didn’t understand what a Bridge Loan was at first, but I asked a candidate to explain what that was, and now – poof! Bridge Loans are what they use for the TV show ‘Flip or Flop’ (I’ve had numerous candidates use that example). It has actually become useful to ask candidates to explain things, not only for my knowledge, but also to gauge how excited they are about their work, and to predict how well they will do in an interview.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates for mortgage industry roles, and it’s pretty clear when someone is a perfect match for a position. I recently spoke with a candidate who, within 48 hours of our first conversation, had accepted a job offer from one of three interviews I got scheduled. As cliche as it sounds, from the moment I hung up the phone after our first chat, I knew she wouldn’t be on the market long. The mortgage industry (and many others) are trying to hire someone who is looking to stay with them a long time. This particular individual had only been at two companies over 30+ years of work. Longevity is something that not every candidate has. Sure, I’ve had candidates hired after doing one year contracts every year for the last five years. Those candidates often tell me how they want to find a job that will last for years – and I believe them. However, when a hiring manager sees a resume, I understand what will stand out to them. And in more cases than not, what stands out is an individual who has grown within one company throughout their career.
It can be hard to find candidates who have only been at one or two companies – the candidate in the example above is the exception, not the norm. With such a crazy market for talent, I find that the majority of my candidates are looking to find a role that pays more, even if they haven’t been at their last position very long. While that might make the search more challenging, it doesn’t make it impossible. The first candidate I ever placed was someone who I first spoke to only a week after he started a new job. The second candidate? I scheduled an interview for her at 8am because at 9am she was starting Day 1 training at another company. The best in the industry are moving fast to find what’s right for them. I don’t blame them either. There are enough jobs to go around, and they’ve proven time after time that they can find that perfect fit.
Does this mean that most companies are interested in candidates who have been ‘jumpy’? Not necessarily. There are a few trends I’ve picked up on. Because the market is so crazy right now, companies don’t have time to train anybody. Someone who hasn’t been in mortgages for the past few years (even if they’ve worked with other types of loans) isn’t as attractive as someone who only has one year of experience, but it was their most recent. Mortgages are constantly changing, and companies are looking for talent who can come in and help on the first day.
What does this all mean? If you are a mortgage company – it means you are picky, but in a good way. Many talent acquisition professionals have read the book “Who” about hiring A Players. It’s not enough to get people in the door if they aren’t going to be able to contribute – especially if they end up taking up the time of others. These are B Players. An A Player is the teammate who will jump right in and exceed all expectations. A team full of these individuals is going to reach the highest potential. It’s worth waiting for the right candidate. If you are a candidate – it means you need to do everything possible to stand out! Perfect your resume, practice interview questions, and make sure you are confident in your talents. A company will only know that you are an A Player if you show yourself to be one.