recruiting tips

4 recruiting mistakes mortgage lenders need to stop making

Bethany RamosAbout Cornerstone, Finance, Industry Professionals, Loan Officers

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No matter what industry you work in, recruiting can be a challenge. For those in the finance and lending sectors, you may be feeling the squeeze. Factoring in that many prospective hires still view finance as a not-so-exciting field compared to others like entertainment, tech, or advertising, your hiring struggle can be real.

We see this common conundrum in a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey from 2015. Here, recruiting issues in the financial sector are linked back to a shortage of talent. Tessa Pillar, Digital Marketing Manager at Thatchers Recruitment Group, discussed this very thing on LinkedIn Pulse in 2016. There, she said that a talent shortage is a major problem most recruiters face (plus skill set mismatch, slow hiring and onboarding momentum, and candidates who have, rightfully, become pickier.)

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So, you hit a recruiting wall — here’s what to do about it

You’ve heard the saying before: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But for those of us who keep hitting the same hurdles time and again, especially among mortgage lenders, it’s time to find a new normal. Reinvent the wheel when it comes to our recruiting practices.

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Granted, there will always be those recruitment hurdles that are non-negotiable. You may have a hard time finding a specific candidate to meet certain job requirements, and that’s to be expected. But many of the recruiting challenges we mentioned above have an easy fix. What about those “selective” job prospects who have more than a few good companies to choose from? They need to know what your company, specifically, has to offer them before they’re comfortable making a final decision.

Nail down what makes you different as a lender compared to all the other financial institutions a job applicant may be looking at on paper. Amidst a sea of competition, make your company come to life.

This was an important question we had to answer for ourselves in the early days of working as a mortgage lender. What can we offer to our team members that other lenders don’t? First and foremost, we focus on making our team members part of our family. When you cultivate a work-family atmosphere like this, team members plan to stay around. Right now, our team members have an impressive tenure of 12.3 years on average.

Over the past 20 years, we began to realize that many old recruiting methods may no longer apply. When you approach a job prospect to see what they can do for you, when you overwhelm candidates with generic email blasts, when you make a job seeker hunt you down to see if you’ve filled an opening — we’re not using this antiquated script anymore.

The 4 recruiting mistakes you don’t want to make as a lender

Now we’re starting on the right foot. We’re beginning to ask the right questions to determine what works best to build upon our company’s culture, while simultaneously simplifying the recruiting game. Rethinking recruitment is even more beneficial if you feel like you’re coming up empty as a financial recruiter.

A company who treats clients and team members with integrity and respect. Here’s what Cornerstone Home Lending, is all about.

We’re going to make this easy. Financial industry recruiters, just do your best to avoid these common hiring mistakes, and you’ll see a big difference in your recruitment:

1. Don’t make your people your bottom line.

recruiting tips

There are always corners to cut in running a profitable business, especially in a company providing financial services. But — and we can’t emphasize this enough — please don’t make the mistake of taking away from your team in order to turn a profit. We’ve promised our borrowers that every loan we write will be written with a servant’s heart. To make this happen, we also treat our team members with the same courtesy. Remember, it’s not, “What can you do for me?” But it’s what we can do for our people.

Again, it’s really simple. We make our corporate culture top priority by offering our work-family paid vacation and holidays. And just for the heck of it, we also put on regular celebrations and gift card drawings for our people, showing them how much we appreciate their work. Catered lunches, health and fitness programs, team member hardship funds, and other fun activities are some of the many ways we show how much we care. Stress buildup in the average office can compromise health to the extent of causing heart disease. Encouraging our team to take regular vacations, and giving them the opportunity to do so with paid time off, refreshes them while improving productivity and efficiency in our loan products. Straightforward as this may be, exceptional team member treatment is the long-term foundation of our customer service.

2. Don’t skimp on technology.

recruiting tips

Along with paid time off, one of the easiest ways to give back to your team members is by putting money into the technology they’re using each day. Talk about icing on the cake — up-to-date technology provides another attractive company feature when recruiting outside talent. Among most companies today, it’s not the money that talks. It’s the technology. New project managers, IT department members, and even loan officers want to know that they will be digitally supported to make their jobs easier. We’ve invested millions in our company technology for this very reason. A team member working with ease and efficiency translates into an effortless experience for the borrower. Everybody wins.

The free LoanFly app and Borrower Portal we created are an excellent example. We put time and money into developing this app to not only simplify home loan prequalification for the borrower, but to improve communication between borrower and loan officer. Our loan officers and processors love this app, and we hear that our borrowers do too. Once-confusing loan processes now make a lot more sense with an app that offers a document favorites list, multi-document upload, due date assignments, and a document request autocomplete drop-down list. These features were designed for the use of the team member and provide the same benefit to the borrower. In short, build tools that make your team members’ lives easier and more productive.

3. Don’t forget about your reputation.

recruiting tips

Another common trend in the finance industry is focusing heavily on the impression a company makes on their borrowers. This baseline reputation is critically important, but with a quick tip in the balance, it’s easy to overlook what a company’s team members may be saying to one another — and posting online to other people. Review all borrower feedback, but don’t forget to consider what team members might be posting about behind closed doors. Roy Maurer of the Society for Human Resource Management says a job candidate can be easily influenced by team member reviews posted online, the bad and the good.

We’re pretty meticulous about this last detail. We comb through each and every one of our Glassdoor reviews posted by team members. For job seekers, these online reviews are the first impression of our company they are going to find in a Google search. When it comes to reputation, they matter. As an example, our company got five new Glassdoor reviews last month. The biggest takeaway from these reviews was a company focus on team member respect and benefits, work-life balance, values, family-oriented atmosphere, and teamwork. A current team member in Texas wrote, “We are a family who cares about serving others the best way we can. Our leadership embodies and embraces the ‘Servant Leadership’ philosophy. As a result, we continue to serve more homeowners each day, week, month, and year.” This is the exact feeling we hope to give to every member of our work-family.

4. Don’t try to conform to industry standards.

recruiting tips

It’s tempting to look to your right and left and feel the pressure to compete. Boy, have we been there before. You may see an ad posted by another financial institution and feel the urge to create your own improved version in return. But before you start “keeping up with the Joneses” among mortgage lenders, take a beat to remember the first question we asked above. What is your company doing differently, and how is it working? This is your lane. And you’ll see the most growth when you stay in it.

When we answered this question for our company in the early days of our development, we decided that our “Cornerstone Difference” is all about the work-family we keep talking about. We’re doing great at up-keeping our corporate culture, delivering loan products with a servant’s heart, investing in our marketing and technology, and offering above-par team member benefits. If ever we see a hitch in our recruiting strategy, or when we can’t seem to find the right talent, we know that we’ve strayed from our unique purpose in one way or another. With that realization, it becomes easier to reassess and get back on track with our core values. What can we do for our team members and recruits to make their work-life better?

For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.

Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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