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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   August 2018

Recruiting Riddle Puzzles Mortgage Industry

Managers are best positioned to recruit talent, but many shy away from the task

r_2018-08_Milligan_spotWith the amount of change inside the mortgage industry over the past decade, there has been enormous resources dedicated to training company employees. Rightfully so, given simply trying to stay current is pushing the training limits when it comes to mastering systems, products and compliance requirements — not to mention developing leadership, utilizing social media and coaching sales talent.

Despite all of this, are there areas where mortgage companies should be investing more? Perhaps a riddle will answer this question.

Many wish they had it, most know they need it, but few are willing to invest in it. The answer? Ongoing training for mortgage leaders around recruiting.

A losing game

Mortgage companies lean heavily on regional managers, area managers and branch managers to recruit and build teams in local markets. In a 2016 survey, the Stratmor Group found that branch managers make the most effective recruiters of experienced loan officers. Branch managers ranked better at attracting talent than internal recruiters, external recruiters paid by placement and even external recruiters on retainer. With this being the case, investing heavily into training these recruiting leaders makes sense.

Many of these managers will admit their weakness is in recruiting. They find it difficult to make the necessary time, or they lack decent phone scripts. They are winging it with face-to-face meetings with little preparation and little planning on the next steps for each recruit. They feel unable to tell the story of their company and articulate the vision of where their business is headed.

Many on the frontlines of recruitment don’t know how to win on LinkedIn. They aren’t sure where to find information on top originators and thus struggle building a top-recruits list. Few are using a customer relationship management (CRM) program and those who have one rarely know how to navigate it well enough to gain the full value from the effort.

Most aren’t measuring lag and lead metrics that are critical to motivating them when they don’t see immediate results. All of this leads to a tendency to move away from recruiting. No one wants to play a game they are convinced they will lose. These are all areas that can fixed by training.

Defuse tension

It isn’t as easy as identifying the need and fixing it. Even when a company is onboard with investing in resources for recruiting, tensions can get in the way of gaining the backing of the company leaders who are charged with advancing those recruiting efforts. This tension comes from the belief that by focusing on recruiting efforts, a leader will get pulled away from managing the current team’s production. With the ongoing issues facing the mortgage industry (low housing inventory, shrinking mortgage applications and rising interest rates) most recruiting leaders are primarily focused on getting their team’s mortgage applicants across the finish line.

Still, given the current environment, companies would be hard pressed to find anything more important than attracting top origination talent. So where should a company begin when evaluating their larger needs around recruiting training? Start by understanding where the recruiting leaders are in key areas. It’s vital to establish benchmarks and measure gains going forward.

The best recruiting leaders realize that storytelling not only motivates but also connects people with other people.

Ask recruiting leaders in your mortgage company to evaluate their recruiting skills. Determine how much time they spend on it each week. Understand how they identify top talent. A simple question is just to ask them what the organization can do to help them become a better recruiter. Do they use CRM software or have a step-by-step system to recruit? What role does social media play in helping them recruit?

These questions will create an awareness of a need, if one exists, and begin building buy-in for any changes that may follow. Here is one last question for the recruiting leader: Do they believe the key to recruiting success is finding candidates who are unhappy? That is a trick question, because it isn’t the key at all.

Instead, the key is being able to take talented prospects, even ones not considering a move, and create an epiphany in them, that aha moment that switches them from uninterested to engaged and willing to build a relationship. The successful recruiting leader is the one who creates these moments for candidates, usually with their skills as a storyteller, their leadership and their ability to inspire confidence in the company.

Clarity of mission

The best chance for meaningful change is when companies identify the need for improved recruiting through self-assessment of leaders and then establish a set of benchmarks. It’s also important to identify key issues prior to moving forward on training.

Clarity of mission provides clear objectives that allow for problems to be solved quickly and contribute to the greater good of the company. Here are steps to move in this direction:

  • Gather information through surveys.
  • Engage “fresh eyes” to review the entire recruiting process because even experienced leaders develop blind spots over time.
  • Identify key issues.
  • Develop action plans to address concerns of individual recruiting leaders.
  • Find training resources internally or externally to fill the gaps revealed by the surveys.
  • Implement a plan within a specific timeline.

Once done, review feedback with an open mind and a willingness to invest where needed around recruiting training. Understand this is the one area of training where companies can measure clearly a return on investment through growth of new hires and revenue.

To get there, companies need to start lean and measure those benchmarks often. Where training works, go all in and recognize and reward the people who commit. The best recruiting leaders realize that storytelling not only motivates but also connects people with other people. To paraphrase an old adage, “Give a man a recruit, and you help him today. Teach a man to recruit, and you help him for life.”

•  •  •

To invest or not to invest in recruiting training, that is the big question. Mortgage companies and individuals alike must evaluate and answer this question. If the recruiting leaders at the company identify this as a need, they should own this as an area of development. Those who become the best at recruiting will improve their career paths, income goals and gain immeasurable freedom.

The mortgage companies and recruiting leaders who will succeed in the upcoming season will be ones who focus on training their leaders to become the best recruiters in their markets. 


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