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A Framework for Evaluating Recruiters

Steve Rennie
Sep 09, 2013

Being recruited by a company is commonplace in the mortgage industry. If you are reputable and successful with an established or growing business. Whether you were referred by a former colleague, previous manager, a referral partner may have said ‘nice things’ about you, being ‘recruited’ means your name found its way onto a contact list for an internal or external headhunter. The good news … you’re popular! The bad news is you’re popular! The recruiting industry includes many respected, knowledgeable and competent leaders of the highest integrity. But, it also includes those with little training, expertise and self-serving motives. The purpose of this article is to give you some perspective and a framework to evaluate the question “Do they know me well enough to recruit me, or is this just another person saying what I want to hear.” You may be perfectly happy and content in your current position. Why then is it still good to have other options or backup plans? None of us have a crystal ball that will tell us what the future is going to look like. If we did, we would be hedging our bets in Vegas or on the stock market and hanging with the likes of Warren Buffett, George Soros and Bill Gross. Large-, small- and mid-sized mortgage organizations are constantly at battle with the forces of nature, as well as with pipeline maintenance, regulatory changes, economic market pressures, boards of directors and a multitude of “game modifiers” that are 100 percent out of your control. What is in your control is to have some options outside of where you are today. As a proven winner, there are more people that will be knocking on your door in the future with promises of happiness and riches. How can you know to whom to listen? For many years, we at Hammerhouse have openly shared our framework for Model-Matching with the candidates we represent and the client companies with which we work. It allows for thorough due diligence in the Six Core Components of business, (Leadership, Culture, Business, Operations, Technology and Geography) and brings an objective orientation to the evaluation process. Model-Matching also empowers candidates to apply the same standards to all of those who are recruiting them, including former acquaintances, cohorts and previous leaders and managers. Here is a three-step framework for evaluating the firms that are recruiting you. 1. Are they experienced in the mortgage industry? The mortgage industry is unique. It combines a one-of-a-kind sales culture, local market knowledge and a sphere of influence with an industry that is dramatically impacted by changes in market conditions and regulatory environment. You only want to work with a headhunter who has enough years of experience working in the mortgage industry to represent you with a crystal clear understanding of the landscape and the best of breed organizations in it. If they tell you they work with “top-salespeople across all industries,” politely inform them that you are looking for a specialist—not unlike yourself—who doesn’t need to “work across industries.” More importantly, every mortgage company in the country is trying to grow. Those headhunters with experience in the mortgage industry will only represent best of breed organizations with a clear understanding of their Six Core Components. Only then can they create value for you in the process. 2. Do they have a track record of placing top producers with top organizations and history in the markets served? Most recruiters and headhunters work with too many of the wrong kinds of organizations. They often move candidates from place to place, disguising success with activity. The best in the industry are happy to provide references from candidates placed and client companies served. They are also willing to share statistics on the success of those placements. Our firm proudly shares our track record of having an annual rolling success rate of 87 percent of those we have placed, not to mention the bottom-line impact made by the production achieved by the newly placed employees. We have also spent a decade or more in many of the geographic markets we support today. Someone who represents you should know the markets in which they are recruiting and the history of those for whom they are recruiting. The more ‘dots’ that get connected in the process, the less risk there will be for you and higher the potential of an opportunity to maximize a Model-Match, as well as, to truly create the right kind of marriage between your business and the organization recruiting you. 3. Do they have a defined process for mutual due diligence? Recruiting is a process, not an event. In our Model-Matching process, we believe the parties will have to get to “know” each other, before they can “like” each other, which ultimately leads to “trusting” each other. Developing the Know, Like and Trust, requires a series of carefully structured meetings of discovery. Some recruiters still ask for resumes. You and your business cannot be quantified on a piece of paper. On the contrary, you and your business have a story. A headhunter with industry experience will understand how to articulate that story and present key data points about your business that demonstrate that you are the real deal and a VIP. If the person/firm recruiting you does not have a defined process then it is not likely to yield the information that either you or potential employers need to make an informed, wise and objective decision. You need not waste your time, the recruiter’s time and any company’s time being part of a recruiting process that amounts to nothing more than a paper review and beauty contest. In this type of process, the recruiter simply tries to make you look great on paper or in an interview and then tries to make prospective employers look great on paper or in staged meetings as well. Career decisions about your business require much more than looking good on paper and looking attractive on highly structured speed dates. Being recruited is a positive indication of a career that is successful. However, never forget that you are the one who should be served and protected by the process. Above all demand that any recruiter you work with recognizes the significance of making a change from one company to another, as well as, the possibility of the negative impact you, your family, referral partners and customer relationships could experience when a wrong move is made. Every organization in the United States is trying to grow their sales force today. They want to have more loans to keep their production ‘factories’ functioning at maximum capacity in order to leverage economies of scale. In doing so, there are a lot of companies that just want to recruit production and don’t take the time to really Model-Match you or your business to their platform. Instead, they say what you want to hear, when you want to hear it and they sell you on false expectations. We’ve all heard too many stories, from people we have known and have long-standing relationships with, about improperly set expectations. The reality is this: If you hold yourself and those recruiting you to the highest standards during this process of learning about each other, you can minimize the risk of a bad move or being sold on a pipe dream. Since you have proven to be among the best—only accept the best from those recruiting you. Congratulations again on your success and your popularity … but, be careful out there! Steve Rennie is a managing partner at Hammerhouse LLC, an expanding national recruiting and strategic growth firm for the financial services industry with mortgage sales and leadership placement at its core. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or call (949) 525-9407.
Sep 09, 2013