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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   August 2018

Bring the Talent Pool Within Reach

The mortgage industry offers many promising career paths that can woo jobseekers

Bring the Talent Pool Within Reach

When high school seniors or college freshmen are surveyed about their career aspirations and asked to check the box next to the future job they envision for themselves, mortgage industry professional rarely if ever gets marked — much less loan underwriter, compliance specialist or mortgage lender.

How can the mortgage industry collectively position itself as offering promising career paths that should be considered by younger generations or those looking to make a change? 

The mortgage industry has a noble mission that appeals to younger generations: putting families in homes. From that base, the industry can promote its commitment to professional development through education programs aimed at attracting and retaining talent and highlight all that the field has to offer, including the potential for building careers. 

College majors and minors exist that can help to cultivate most of the skills required to work in the mortgage profession. Those college pathways include studies in marketing, business, finance, real estate development, law, accounting, entrepreneurship and public relations. 

Once into their careers in other industries, unhappy job-switchers do sometimes consider mortgage lending. Often that happens as the result of a referral from friends or family.

The dilemma

The mortgage industry does need to increase its talent pool. Based on research from a variety of independent sources, however, it faces a number of business and human-resource challenges:

  • The industry is not well known or understood.
  • The potential for a career is unclear.
  • Internship and training programs are not commonplace.
  • Budgeting for training is not always high on a mortgage company’s priority list.
  • The baby boomer generation, the source of many current mortgage professionals, is retiring and being replaced by millennials and the even younger Generation Z.
  • Curricula related to mortgage financing is thin or lacking at many universities and community colleges.

The first consideration for employees in joining a company is financial reward, according to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey. Beyond compensation, job prospects look to companies that have solid mission statements and values that are put into practice. The top values identified by millennials: making a positive impact on society and the environment; creating innovative ideas, products and services; advancing careers and improving people’s lives; and emphasizing diversity in the workplace.

For individual growth, almost 80 percent of those surveyed by Deloitte said on-the-job training and continuous professional development will be important in helping them perform at their best. They credit school studies with building 23 percent of their skills, knowledge and experience, according to Deloitte. A combination of on-the-job training and professional development programs carries more weight, however, with millennials and Gen Zers, saying those two sources account for 52 percent and 44 percent, respectively, of the skills they draw on while on the job.

Gen Zers, for example, are looking for work that offers a more personal touch. They are technologically savvy, which means they can quickly learn internal systems and processes. For those moving into customer service and related roles, companies need to create programs to build interpersonal skills and confidence.

Because of the need to connect with people of all educational levels and backgrounds through many channels (phone, e-mail, social media, texting, written letters, presentations, proposals and internal memos), some companies offer online writing classes to help improve communications skills for all. Another important value to younger workers is a commitment to giving back to their communities. This can be achieved by giving each employee a number of paid hours each year to support a local cause and providing matching funds on donations to nonprofits that fit within the company’s preferred areas of support.

Based on its analysis of U.S. job-switching activity in 2016, the social media platform LinkedIn reported that millennials were 50 percent more likely to relocate and 16 percent more likely to switch industries for a new job than non-millennials. According to LinkedIn, the top destinations for job-switchers were in technology, health care and financial services, which includes mortgage lending. As reported in Forbes, millennials cited a “lack of opportunities for career advancement, followed closely by dissatisfaction with compensation/benefits” as the key reasons they switched jobs.

The biggest losers of talent, according to LinkedIn, include retail, government, education, media and the nonprofit sector. This creates opportunities for recruiters to be creative and advertise in industries losing people who have the skills and talent to succeed in mortgage lending. 

The fix

To attract new talent, the mortgage industry may not be able to change college and community college curricula in short order, but there are positive steps organizations, independent companies, banks and others can take to educate the job market about the potential for careers in the mortgage industry. 

For starters, promote career opportunities on your websites and through all social media channels. Beyond offering a job, create a vision of how your organization is dedicated to investing in the individual and building careers within a collegial and empowering culture and a commitment to individual success.

Finely tuned digital advertising can reach the restless in other industries when they search online for new career opportunities. Promote the culture of your business, emphasizing how each individual is supported with ongoing professional development and opportunities to explore new areas for personal growth. 

Creating an internship program can be a positive way of connecting with local community colleges and universities and introducing the mortgage industry to students and faculty. Determine what skills would be helpful (marketing, technology, business, finance, public relations) and work with each school to promote your job-candidate needs through multiple communications channels.

Students will be made aware of new opportunities in an industry they may not have considered. Once on the job, interns can become enthusiastic about pursuing full-time positions. Their managers and mentors get equally enthusiastic, having seen the intern in action and becoming familiar with the person’s skills, personality, team spirit and work ethic.

Materials created for websites, online advertising and company literature can be repackaged for use at job fairs. Many larger cities have government-funded workforce partnerships to introduce potential workers to new industries, as do two- and four-year colleges. Some of your top performers can get on the local speaking circuit at career days. 

Create a separate program for veterans. Nonprofit organizations exist around the country to help veterans find employment. Become a resource, from leading educational sessions about the industry at local meetings to setting up a dedicated internship program for those transitioning from the military to civilian life. Ex-military can be a positive addition to any organization because of their skills, dedication to the mission and spirit of teamwork.

Retention

Once the new hire is aboard, the role of the employer as educator takes on even greater significance. Various industry studies on employee retention show turnover of around 34 percent in the first year of employment.

Beyond formal training, assign mentors and coaches to each new hire. This can help ease the entry into larger organizations and build personal relationships, which are another key element to employee retention.

Companies can stay on top of changing employee needs by conducting regular online surveys. Create a benchmark survey asking employees to rate current job satisfaction, the quality of internal training programs and the relative importance of different company initiatives to help build careers.

The list of survey questions also can seek feedback on mentoring programs; online training to learn new skills, such as marketing or customer-relationship management; community-relations efforts; and tutorials on new technologies, among other areas. The survey results will provide ideas for setting priorities, focusing internal resources and setting goals for improving results where needed in any area. Repeat the survey every six months to track progress and find new areas to address.

•  •  •  

The mortgage industry has been on a tremendous growth path over the past five years, dealing with new regulations and adapting technology to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile, online world while maintaining the personal touch in customer service. The big challenge is finding, attracting and retaining the talent to keep the momentum going for decades to come. 

In an ideal world, this challenge could be met with an industrywide educational and promotional program that introduces mortgage lending to broader audiences and builds the industry’s image and reputation for the long term. The goal should be, within seven years, to make pursuing a career as a mortgage professional a popular choice in job-preference surveys administered by schools nationwide, and to also stimulate a steady increase in applications for every new or open position in the industry.



 


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