Time To Take A Look At How You Tap Into New Talent

New ideas, new people key to keeping your company on top

Rob Chrisman
A smiling businesswoman shaking hands with a new hire.

Recruiting new talent, or the ability to recruit new talent, is the lifeblood of many firms. With quality talent always in high demand, especially now with large volumes and still-decent margins in the summer of 2021, mortgage companies find themselves fighting one another to attract top talent. Whether or not your staff can provide great customer service and embrace the technology your borrowers use is going to determine much of your success across market cycles.

It really does “take a village” to determine the right employees for your company. Successful talent recruiting translates to hiring great employees who help your company and your team achieve their growth objectives. Attributes that make someone thrive in a certain role aren’t always immediately evident on their CV, and interviews or references when hiring may only paint part of the picture. 

It seems that no matter how impartial managers try to be, biases always creep into hiring decisions. The best solution to subjective bias is to increase the role of objective science in your decision-making. using data to focus on better predictors of on-the-job success like cognitive ability. For those reasons, it is important to have solid processes and procedures in place when it comes to hiring.

Every Change A Chance 

Growing a solid team involves relationship building, time management, professional development, and retention strategies to ensure you keep the competition away. Mortgage loan officers (MLOs) are constantly hit up by recruiters asking, “Just checking in… how are things going?” Common reasons for mortgage professionals to make moves include changes in ownership or leadership, a failure to provide support from their current company, and a chance for advancement or opportunity to take their career to the next level. Your recruiting plan should outline your goals, strategies and techniques required to attract and hire professionals. As a lender, where are you going? Who do you want on board?

The best talent in your market is likely not waiting for you to run ads in the newspaper or post a job online. A phone call, with a compelling message that piggybacks on good rapport, goes a long way toward attracting these people to your company. While money does go a long way in recruiting, many successful candidates are searching for a lending partner that is committed to helping them grow their business. Give careful consideration to how you make your initial approach, at what point you would make a formal offer, and how far you will go to recruit from your competitors. This is where having a recruiting plan in place can help you get, and keep in front of the best talent. There are thousands of lenders out there, so you’re special… why?

Generation Next

Now, there are two looming questions mortgage companies need to ask themselves in the summer of 2021. The first is, “Do I prioritize youth or experience?” Seemingly each subsequent conference I go to looks like it could double as an AARP introductory meeting. While there is no substitute for experience, the business, as we know it, is certainly aging. Managers should explore ways to create the next generation of mortgage leaders. There is plenty of room in the mortgage industry for a new batch of exciting talent to emerge, much of which already has. Younger professionals are looking for a career that has financial upside, but may feel a sense of entitlement that means they are not interested in Junior or Assistant roles. It is a tough balancing act, and a balance that management needs to make decisions on.

The second question is, “Do I recruit talent that can be fully remote?” To return, or not to return, to the office. Turns out that it’s not just ops staff who aren’t so eager to get back to the office. The pandemic turned a lot of heads when it came to working location. Some lender and vendor management are putting up a fight about continuing to work from home. Some CEOs with whom I have spoken tell me that allowing managers to work remotely on a permanent basis can be a valuable new recruiting tactic for firms. Or at least having the option. 

Be More Flexible

The trend has crossed over into people looking for jobs that only require the occasional office visit. But not every firm or department is embracing this new demand for remote positions, out of concern that a virtual work environment will stymie mentorship opportunities for younger employees and chip away at firm culture. Recruiting quality talent is about conversion ratios, and some valuable employees may be productive without being able to or wanting to come into the office. A recent poll by Tom LaMalfa indicated that, of the 33 managers interviewed, 30 are comfortable with recruiting remote workers whereas only 3 are not. 88 percent of respondents said reduced margins will not change their recruiting and/or tech investments going forward. Many believe that margins in a given year play little to no role in technology investments or recruiting talent.

Know Your ‘Why’

A major differentiator between successful mortgage companies who have established consistent growth patterns and positioned themselves for the future, versus their less successful counterparts who struggle, is the ability to recruit and retain top talent. Ask yourself, "Why should people join my organization?" It becomes readily apparent today that there are two types of companies in the mortgage industry: those looking into and positioning themselves for the future and those striving to make it in the here and now. 

In order to have the right people undertaking your organization's mission and vision, and be added in the second half of 2021, it is paramount to establish a culture that supports the goals of the people that can make it happen. Tap into things employees are passionate about in their careers and support the lives they seek to lead. Doing this effectively requires building your company around the type of talent you want and getting them to buy into your mission initially and ongoing throughout their tenure. Using the right channels, crafting the right listings, and matching candidates with your organizational needs goes a long way to having a successful and sustainable company.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Banker Magazine July 2021 issue.
Rob Chrisman
Rob Chrisman

Rob Chrisman began his career in mortgage banking – primarily capital markets – 35 years ago. He is on the board of directors of Inheritance Funding Corporation, of Doorway Home Loans, of AXIS Appraisal Management, and of the California MBA. He is also a member of the Secure Settlements Advisory Board, an associate of the STRATMOR Group, and of the Mortgage Bankers Association of the Carolinas and its membership committee.

Published on
Jul 25, 2021
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