After the booming volume of the last two years, this year has been more difficult than many expected. Production has dropped significantly, and many lender shops are focused on recruiting more loan officers to help make up the difference.
“As a company, we’ve had to really right-size our teams to make sure that we’re keeping our costs in line with the reduced production that we’re seeing,” said Courtney Graham, chief marketing officer and chief people officer at Princeton Mortgage. “We’ve really had to think about as a team, ‘What’s the No. 1 most important thing that we should all be focusing on right now?’ And the answer to that is recruiting.”
How are LOs feeling right now?
The drive from some shops to recruit more LOs is good news for many, as layoffs continue to roll through the industry. So how are LOs feeling right now?
Graham said she’s seeing a few different groups of LOs in the current market.
The first is a group of LOs that are locked in at their current companies due to contractual obligations after some of the transitions (and signing bonuses) of the last two years. They’re unable to move shops right now even if they wanted to.
The second group of LOs may be worried about the current market but are too timid to make a big career move right now.
“They’re nervous about moving to a company that they don’t know as well,” Graham said. “There’s potentially more risk involved just because you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. I think everyone’s just kind of on edge now.”
The third group is made up of LOs who may be feeling discouraged about the decrease in production across the industry. They may even be taking it personally, she said, asking, “‘Is it me? Is it my company? Would another company be better at helping me navigate this market right now?’”
“Some people are identifying, ‘It’s safer for me to stay where I am because at least this is known,’ and then there’s a group that’s thinking, ‘Maybe my company is not giving me what I need to succeed in this market’ and are out looking,” Graham said.
And, finally, there are those LOs who are out of work due to company downsizing and are looking for a new position.
The winning mindset for LOs looking to get hired
Let’s focus on those last two groups of LOs – those who are looking to move shops and those who are looking for a new position after being downsized. How can these LOs position themselves for success in the job hunt?
It’s about having the right attitude – a growth mindset. An LO needs to be willing to change some of the activities they have been doing if they want to see different or better results.
“You can outperform in a down market, but you just have to change the activities that you’re willing to do,” Graham said. “Hiring managers are looking for those people with that growth mindset who are very coachable.”
Additionally, people who are willing to be held accountable are more attractive as hires. If an LO is willing to commit to the activities their company identifies as important to help them succeed in this market, they need to also be open to someone holding them accountable if they don’t complete that work. An ideal candidate will be able to welcome feedback and criticism.
In order to really take advantage of that accountability, an LO candidate should also have clear goals in mind, whether they’re thinking in terms of production, net worth or another goalpost. They should be willing to break that goal down into the steps they need to take to achieve it and ask someone to help hold them accountable to it.
It’s difficult to have coaching conversations with people that don’t know what they want out of life, Graham said, and it happens more often than not.
“That helps people stand out, being able to really clearly define and articulate their goals and what they want for their lives in one year, five years, 10 years,” she said. “Because if you know what you want, it’s much easier to coach someone towards that. You can help them create that plan to get there, but if people don’t know what they want, it’s a really hard conversation.”
The goal-driven, growth mindset also helps in a down market, when it can be easy to feel discouraged. Even beyond a hiring perspective, it helps an LO to be able to articulate their goals and see what they’re working toward.
For LOs looking for a job, now is a good time to take a look in the mirror and evaluate whether your mindset matches the above. If not, it’s an opportunity to make those changes.
“It’s a really good time for people to be very self-reflective,” Graham said. “Hopefully that self-reflection will be the ammo they need to say, ‘Cool, I’m ready to do this. This is what I want. I’m ready to grow and learn.’”
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