MReport October 2020

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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Page 21 of 67

20 | M R EP O RT FEATURE I n a highly cyclical industry known for having a high turnover rate, finding the right fit between lenders and loan officers has never been easy. Few loan officers end their careers with the same lender they started with, and even the biggest lenders struggle to keep talented people. Throw a pandemic into the mix and these challenges suddenly become magnified. As difficult as the current environment has been, I've found there are still better ways for lenders to recruit talented loan officers. And for loan officers looking for the right home, there are new ways to uncover the type of place where they really belong. All that's needed is a little creativity—and a sharp focus on the things that matter. How the Pandemic Has Changed Recruiting A s a recruiter, I'm not looking to recruit just anyone—I'm looking to recruit someone I can build a connection with. After all, we all connect with other people that we know, like, and trust, and if you can't develop that relation- ship quickly, it may never happen. For this reason, I typically ask personal, high-trust questions first. Where did they grow up? What are their hobbies? What are they passionate about? The goal is to find a connection in my own life. Under normal circumstances, of course, this getting-to-know-each- other process happens in person. There is no better way to get to know someone than being able to pick up the vibe that takes place when two people can look each other in the eye and see where the other person is coming from. This usually involves a day spent in our offices and meeting our different department heads in their offices and over lunch. This way, a recruit gets a real "feel" for how we do things—and vice versa. Obviously, social distancing has made this practice impossible, and not having that in-person connec- tion is a real challenge. In the cur- rent environment, many lenders are now recruiting by telephone, but it's difficult to get to know someone and pick up their signals by voice alone. However, there are ways to overcome this obstacle. When the pandemic started, we quickly transitioned our recruiting interviews to Zoom meetings. On the surface, this too seems less than ideal, because you're still missing the cues and nuances that take place during face-to-face interactions. But under the right circumstances, we have found Zoom meetings can be just as effective as our in-person efforts. Making this work takes a little creativity, of course. For example, prior to a Zoom meeting with a prospective recruit, we will send out a GrubHub gift certificate so the candidate can enjoy a nice, virtual lunch with me that's delivered to them while we get to know each other. We also get our department heads involved with "virtual site visits" by schedul- ing Zoom calls with candidates during team happy hours so they can get to know our people better. It's still important for lenders and loan officers to ask plenty of good, probing questions during the recruiting process. With the limitations of social distancing, there's a real need to go even deeper with these questions to find out if there's a great fit. That said, the fact that we're all experiencing a new sort of reality together during the pandemic, as well as spending more time at home, gives both parties a chance to find out a lot about each other. Interviewing candidates by Zoom can actually be kind of fun, since they are typically at home with their spouses and family. Sometimes, I'll even end up "interviewing" a spouse, who may tell me all the great reasons why we should bring on their partner. Why Culture Is More Important Than Ever L et's face it, most lenders have good product offerings and good pricing—most of the time, we're all in the same ballpark in these areas. The real differentiator is culture, which is reflected in a company's shared values, how people within the company treat each other, and how people feel about coming to work each day. Culture often isn't easy to explain or convey; for recruits, it is usually something you pick up on after spending some time with a lender. This too can be very difficult in the age of COVID-19. From the lender's point of view, however, there are still ways that culture can be demonstrated, even during virtual meetings. For instance, something we are very proud of is our IMPAKT initiative. This is an internal campaign we operate to remind every person in the Cherry Creek community that being of service to each other is just as impor- tant as the work we do. The goal is to build on our culture by reaching out to everybody in our 70 branches. IMPAKT is an acronym that stands for how we are "Intentional" in our communication, "Meaningful" and "Positive" with our words and actions towards each other, "Accountable" for our responsibili- ties and doing our work with the highest standards, and "Kind" in every interaction, because we're all in this "Together." I realize this all sounds very nice, but how do we put these values into action? Well, we created a team of 25 "ambassa- dors" within Cherry Creek who, Going the Extra Mile Recruiting during a pandemic makes a challenging process even more complicated. By Stephanie Treusein

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