You completed your 20-hour pre-licensing and state-specific education requirements. You studied hard and passed the NMLS exam. And now it’s time to hit the streets as a brand new, steely-eyed mortgage loan originator (MLO) eager to sell mortgages and begin earning that sick income that, all along, has been the carrot at the end of the stick propelling you.
As you reach out to lender after lender, mortgage broker after mortgage broker, you quickly realize that there’s one more hurdle that you are going to have to overcome … your lack of experience.
In a mortgage market that has recently experienced dramatic interest rate hikes in attempt to curb inflation, the number of people applying and qualifying for mortgage financing has dramatically reduced. As such, many mortgage lenders and brokers have shuttered their doors. Of the companies that are still operating, several of those have laid off much of their staff. Oh sure, there is still a lot of business to originate. And the reduction in the companies offering mortgages rewards the remaining companies with less competition akin to trimming the fat. Many of these remaining mortgage lenders and brokers are still actively hiring new mortgage loan originators, but with every door that’s slammed in your face upon learning of your inexperience, it’s beginning to seem apparent that the company’s growing their staff are only seeking to hire MLOs with significant industry experience, a solid book of business, and a network of established referral sources, none of which you currently have. Things are undoubtedly beginning to look bleak.
I’m here now to cast some light while shedding hope onto the frustration that you, a brand new mortgage loan originator seeking his or her first MLO job, may be feeling. I’m going to offer you some tips to land your new job with little-to-no mortgage origination experience. Sound good? Well let’s go!
Allow me to begin by assuring you that there are definitely mortgage companies that appreciate the value in hiring new MLOs. I know that for a fact! When a company onboards an individual with no previous experience, that company is able to train him or her to their specifications, on their programs, and about their processes without having to first deprogram his or her previous frame of reference. The loan originator who comes to them as a blank slate requires far less preparation than a seasoned loan originator who may have to change his or her habits and redefine his or her processes in order to accommodate his or her new employer’s preferred ways of conducting business. And many companies realize this and, as such, actively seek out the inexperienced.
The benefit of learning from scratch without having to be retrained or reprogrammed should be one of your primary and initial selling points when approaching any company where your lack of tenure might be of issue. In your initial outreach, consider stating (or writing) something to the effect of, “The fact that I thus far have little industry experience should be viewed positively! When you consider just how much time and effort you’ll save by building my professional foundation on your products, programs, policies, and procedures, my streamlined development into a top-producing mortgage loan originator role is all but guaranteed.” Your confidence in expressing this coupled with a fresh way of allowing them to view your inexperience just might win you that job. Or, at the very least, open the door for them to meet with you
Want in on a secret? Mortgage companies jump at the opportunity to hire sales staff coming to them already possessing self-sourced business. Self-sourced business refers to mortgage originations resulting from external relationships. Self-sourced business ranges from leads that the employer did not have to provide to completely new versus repeat customers. Do you, or anyone with whom you’re close, personally know any referral sources? Can you establish a baseline of Realtors®, real estate agents, accountants, attorneys, builders, bridal consultants, and other referral sources that, when described, would cause the potential employer to salivate? The more that you can bring, the more emphatically the sales manager will want you on his or her team.
Creativity and flexibility are musts for the new loan originator possessing minimal experience. If there are no companies willing to hire you where you live, you may very well have to go to where those companies are. Never expect to be offered a job as a brand new mortgage loan originator and immediately begin working remotely. If you are, run! Last week’s article, “Can a New Mortgage Loan Originator Effectively Work From Home?” articulately describes why expecting to work from home as a brand new MLO is not only unrealistic, it’s a guaranteed recipe for failure and disaster. So if the jobs are not near you, you very well may need to go to them.
Proper training should not only be non-negotiable, it’s the law. Any mortgage company that does not properly train its new hires through a formal training program and/or tasks its branch managers with the responsibility of overseeing their new hires, while actively managing their own pipelines of customers, is a company to vehemently avoid. If the company does not offer a formal training program, it should also be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) since the law requires all mortgage companies to properly train their employees and holds companies accountable for their failure to do so. The new MLO must be able to properly train and learn and this can only be accomplished effectively by working in a physical office location around others. An office location that has a manager who is focused solely on staff development.
There are countless mortgage shops operating, large and small, that appreciate the fresh and pure perspective that a new hire with little-to-no experience brings with them. The secret, however, is finding those companies. Hearing “thanks but no thanks” time and time again can easily and quickly get old. Should you find this happening, it’s especially important to remind yourself of that old sales encouragement, “Every no is one step closer to a yes.” When the job search frustration starts forming roots, take a break. Go for a walk. Exercise. Go out into nature. Refresh your mind, soul, and spirit. Rejuvenate. It’s perfectly acceptable to do this. And then, after you’re feeling better (hopefully it won’t take too long), you can resume your job search refreshed with a renewed vigor.
If your job search consists of simply e-mailing companies your resume and asking about job openings, you might as well resolve to not finding a job. Mortgage companies are inundated with countless job applications and expressions of interest daily. What is going to make you stand apart from all of the other prospects? Creativity. That’s what! Avoid wasting your time by e-mailing unsolicited resume after unsolicited resume. Get active. Visit their office in person. Knock on doors. Make them want to see you. Persistence and effort ultimately pay off.
Now how will you be identifying prospective employers? Will you be utilizing all of your resources? There are numerous things that you should be doing to find your MLO job in addition to cold calling on mortgage lenders and brokers. The following four ideas and strategies must, not “should,” but “must” be an integral component of your job search if you expect to be successful.
You don’t need a job to network. Attend functions, join organizations, get involved in civic activities to be around others with whom you can eventually partner. Think about this … you visit real estate offices and join professional real estate groups. You slowly but surely get to know and earn the respect of individuals with whom you could ultimately partner. They have a preferred lender. How do you think that preferred lender will react upon receiving their endorsement of you? Do you think that it might have some incentive to talk with you if you’re already aligned with the people who provide the business that it originates? You can bet they’d take you seriously!
Utilize Social Media
Do you realize how many mortgage and real estate groups exist through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn? If you’re not actively networking through all of the various social media outlets, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities and prolonging those unemployment checks.
Provide Something of Value
One of the easiest ways to capture someone’s attention is to offer them something of direct benefit. Consider what you could offer a potential employer. Maybe the lender might agree to a trial run during which they give you time to prove your worth before they have to commit. Or, when courting a future referral source, perhaps you know of potential buyers to whom you could connect with a real estate company. Or maybe even accept a job with them as an administrative assistant of some sort. People tend to afford their attention to someone or something that’s directly benefitting them.
Think Outside the Box
Have you thought about working for a bank, a mortgage lender, or a broker in a different role? One through which they can get to know you? I began my career as a Mortgage Customer Service Representative for a bank prior to transitioning into an MLO position.
Although I can certainly offer you many other tips and strategies for success as a mortgage professional, these four are all that time permits me to offer through this article. Through New Loan Originator Mentoring we could certainly delve into all of them. You can find out more about New Loan Originator Mentoring, and all of the other important and exciting services that I offer, through www.nmlstraining.com.
Suffice it to say that any individual desiring to launch a new career in mortgage loan originations with little-to-no experience is not as “behind the eight ball” as it might seem. With creativity, flexibility, consistent effort, and outside-the-box thinking, that new MLO will be fielding job offers a plenty!