Recruitment in the mortgage industry this year has been quite the adventure. Having spent most of last decade recruiting within the mortgage industry, I have not experienced anything like the current environment, and have heard similar sentiments from multiple mortgage lender clients in the industry far longer than myself. Operations talent is taking full advantage of their moment in the spotlight.
In conversations with our clients, they are experiencing similar frustrations. From being ghosted by candidates (even after they sign an offer letter), to losing valuable time when candidates no-show for scheduled interviews, to losing talent to competing offers that are insanely high (from a retention and recruiting standpoint), and an overall the lack of professionalism from many candidates in demand right now, lenders are struggling to bring onboard top ops talent.
On the flip side, for candidates, operations talent has been HEAVILY recruited by pretty much every lender and recruiter out there. Recruiting efforts have become white noise to many candidates and when approached by a company or recruiter, efforts are simply not as effective as typically seen in a “normal” market cycle. In addition, top candidates, those typically employed and not necessarily looking for a new role, are busy as hell trying to support their own pipelines. Finding time to manage multiple interviews is a challenge in and of itself right now. I advise candidates how worthwhile and lucrative it can be for them to carve out time for interviews, as offers to ops staff have inflated up to 30% or more in just the last 6 months.
Another challenge recruiters face is that top ops talent who would typically be receptive to recruiting efforts and potentially open to making a move have already done so or have moved off the market due to creative retention efforts from their existing employer. Operations staff who will follow the money and drive up overall compensation figures, have already taken advantage of the market and made their move leaving recruiters and lenders with a smaller available talent pool.
In my experience, we notice a significant fallout rate after a couple of months when either false promises were made and not lived up to (please don’t be the employer who does this) or when processes are so different at their new employer, that some become disenchanted or more recently, disengaged in a remote setting and quickly look for the exit door.
Many candidates are also smart enough to realize that these current salaries are over the top and will not last forever. Naturally, the question is asked – “am I going to be laid off when things slow down?” One effective strategy we have seen effectively solve for this challenge is some form of guarantee to the candidate that they will not be laid off DUE TO VOLUME. One extreme example I have seen is that if the candidate is laid off within one year, the lender will write a check for an entire year’s salary. Seems crazy right? But crazy times calls for drastic measures.
One strategy we have had success with is finding mining candidates in smaller towns or rural areas who currently or are open to remote work. In most locales, these individuals are being paid WELL under market value and are limited on local options when seeking alternative employment situations.
Below is the average salary ranges and sign-on bonuses we are seeing over the most recent 100+ offers that have gone out from our end:
RECRUITER INSIGHTS BASED OFF THESE FINDINGS:
Keep in mind these are the averages we are seeing. There are outliers to these averages, but if you want to land top-talent, be prepared to come to the negotiation table somewhere in these ranges. The reality is that even when lenders provide great offers, candidates are leveraging these offers as a golden ticket to create a bidding war for additional offers that come their way (and they will).
While negotiating from an employer perspective is often beneficial, right now there is limited talent available and if you are desperate for someone then GIVE YOUR BEST OFFER FIRST. Avoid wasting time with lukewarm offers that support your bottom line at the risk of lost time and efforts put in to getting viable candidates to the offer-stage.
Losing quality candidates to competing offers is just the tip-of-the iceberg. Let’s say they sign on the dotted line and are ready to come on board… that is, until they put in their notice at their current employer. Immediately in many cases, that company realizes they cannot afford to lose their top ops talent and will match whatever offer the candidate has in hand. In my experience, candidates are more inclined to stay and their current employer when salary, benefits, etc. are on a level playing field, leaving the recruiting lender empty handed. The best way to combat this scenario is to get out in front of it and TALK TO THE CANDIDATE ABOUT HOW THEY WOULD HANDLE A COUNTEROFFER during the interview process. This has the potential to save all parties valuable time and efforts.
Using my hypothetical crystal ball, I do believe we will see a second wave of candidates come available after settling in with their new employer and facing the realization that the grass is not greener on the other side. The good news is that there is enough quality operational talent in the marketplace, that if you are willing to put in the necessary time and effort recruiting or partner with the right firm to support your recruitment efforts, you will be able to successfully grow your team to support increased volume!
TMC - Chief Operating Officer