Searching for Our Rookie of the Year

Take a look at the sales force in today’s mortgage banking industry and you will likely see a trend.  What will you see?  The current talent pool is male dominated with an average age creeping closer and closer to retirement.   Recruiters in the mortgage industry are looking to restock their cupboards with new blood – but that is easier said than done.  Today we will take a look at restocking the sales floor with some fresh, green “rookies”.  Identifying strong candidates requires knowledge of what skills will translate into a successful producing loan officer.

When someone is referred to as a “rookie”, what is the first thing that comes across your mind?  No experience?  Brand new?  Potential?  Henry Rowengartner???  Or maybe you’re like me and you get really excited and think about the potential line-up of your favorite baseball team (<coughing>…Kris Bryant).  The truth of the matter is, the ideal “rookie” candidate should have some sort of relevant skills prior to starting their journey to become a producing member of your sales team.  As a recruiter you need to be able to recognize that there are those out there who have better experience and more extensive networks than those already within the industry.

So what is considered  better experience from our ideal candidate?  If someone has a background in public speaking and is able to hold a professional conversation, that is a start.  Strong communication skills are essential in building rapport and establishing long term relationships with today’s consumer.  Experience in public speaking is a relevant skill that has a high probability of translating into success as a loan officer.

Another type of experience to look for in a green candidate is a willingness to invest in their business.  When I was a new loan officer, Anthony Cummuta, branch manager of Platinum’s Chicago Branch, used to always point to my desk and say to me, “This is Andy Mikkila, Inc – You are your own franchise!!!”  You want to be able to hire someone who is a self-starter and knows the importance of networking and has experience meeting new people and building relationships in order to grow one’s networking circle.

A third important type of experience to look for in your ideal rookie is the ability to follow up.  The mortgage industry is a competitive industry and today’s consumer has a multitude of choices in lenders.  A good conversation with a client today has a better chance of the client choosing you as a lender if you are proactive with your follow up.  Great follow up skills will make a lasting impression with your client and further the likelihood of creating life-long relationships.Recruitment concept in word tag cloud

A rookie with experience in competition such as a collegiate athlete will be familiar with the culture of a successful sales office.  A competitive person strives to win and wants to be successful.  Maybe this rookie had a previous career in which they were able to win a contest at work – competition is not just limited to athletes!

Quite possibly the best type of experience a beginner loan officer candidate can have is experience as a homeowner.  Someone who has been through the underwriting gauntlet of purchasing a home is going to be able to empathize with the consumer and better understand the home buying process.  The ability to draw on one’s own experience as a homeowner has the ability to connect to a buyers own emotion of purchasing their new home.

The size of a rookie’s circle of influence can also be crucial to finding someone who will succeed as a loan officer.  Someone with a large social network will instantly have a platform to gain exposure in their new career.  A candidate that’s active in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, and/or Pinterest will be able to maximize their exposure and make those closest to them aware of their new career and convey messages to those they know who might be in the market for home financing.  While many of the industry’s current sales force are hesitant to enter the pool of social media, many of today’s green candidates will dive right into the social media – because they already have established a huge social network.

Once you have hired the new blood, a mentoring program is essential to the development of your rookies.  By providing each new hire a mentor, it allows them to learn some of the best practices from someone who has already experienced success in the industry.  It is important to make sure any mentor program is structured and is “not just following around a senior loan officer”.   Mentors should be good listeners, willing to share skills and expertise, provide guidance and constructive feedback, help with setting goals, and exhibit a positive attitude.

Recruiting can appear challenging in the current climate of the mortgage industry.  Knowing what skills and relevant experience a new mortgage consultant may already have can translate into hiring your company’s next producer.



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Andrew Mikkila

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