Finding Employees And Employment, With Michael D. Zinn

PERSON OF THE WEEK: Are you in the market for a new job? Is your company looking to hire new loan officers? This week, MortgageOrb visits with Michael D. Zinn, president of the Lawrenceville, N.J.-based executive search organization Michael D. Zinn & Associates, to discuss the search for employment and employees.

Q: In today's job market, there are many qualified people trying to land a relatively small number of new positions. As a prospective employer in the mortgage banking industry, what advice can you provide in determining how to find the best person to fill a loan originator's position?

Zinn: As a prospective employer in the mortgage banking industry, I would advise that, when hiring, the focus first be on finding individuals who have had a pattern of career success in the loan originator position at other well known and credible mortgage companies. In light of the problems that there have been in the mortgage banking industry, I would be very careful about which organizations I would hire from, as well.

It will be critical to find the ‘superior athletes’ at companies known for high integrity and forthrightness. The last thing a mortgage banking company needs right now is to hire someone who will get in the news for past misdeeds at a prior employer.

Therefore, an extreme amount of due diligence is probably necessary, as well as talking with people who know this person well. In essence, I would begin by focusing on finding the best person to fill the position and is currently employed within a successful organization.

Q: On the other hand, what advice would you give to those who are trying to fill that aforementioned loan originator's position? Specifically, how does one stand out from the crowd of applicants?

Zinn: The advice I would give to those who are trying to get these positions would be to satisfy potential employers by focusing on the answers to the the quality questions that are discussed above. Their resumes should draw attention to the outstanding organizations they have worked for, as well as factually documenting how those organizations promoted and profited as a result. Be careful of stretching the truth, but at the same time, make sure that you quantify achievements.

Clearly show how rewards and increased responsibility followed. Also, network to promote skills to major contacts and ‘centers of influence’ in the industry – especially if these are people prospective employers would likely know. There is a good chance they will be some of the influencers prospective employers turn to in order to vet candidates.

Q: For prospective employers in mortgage banking, does it make sense to focus exclusively on applicants with experience as loan originators? Or, can an argument be made to consider applications from people in related fields who have been unable to locate work therein and are trying to find new opportunities in more lucrative sectors?

Zinn: Yes, it does make sense to consider applicants with no experience as loan originators. The argument can be made that people from related fields, or even some unrelated fields, do have the ability to do well.

The criteria that I would look for as an employer are similar to some of those listed above. Look for individuals who have had progressively more responsible experience at some of the better organizations in related fields (for example, real estate). Be willing to document and vet a prospective candidate's employment history and, of course, continue to explore mutual relationships with people who may know this individual professionally and/or personally.

Q: For prospective job-seekers in this industry, how much importance do you put in using social networking tools and web sites as part of the job-search effort? And what are some of the basic do's and don'ts in using social networking media to find work?

Zinn: As a prospective job-seeker in the mortgage industry, I wouldn't put an awful lot of serious effort into the social network media tools and Web sites as part of my job search. These media have their place, and homage should paid to them, but there are literally thousands of people applying for each job on all of these social networking media sites right now.

I would only spend my search ‘downtime,’ if I were a candidate, on ‘punching that clock.’ Searching for a job through the social network media tools can be done in the evening and weekends on the off chance that something may come of it. The basic ‘do's and don'ts’ of social networking through the media is like anything else: Don't appear desperate, do appear confident and don't flood the media with your resume. As always, a targeted approach works best.

Q: The current unemployment figures are hovering just below the 10% mark. Do you see the job market improving as the year progresses?

Zinn: With current unemployment figures hovering around 10%, the question is, does the job market improve this year? I believe it will, but with fits and starts.

There are other problems for the entire economy, as well as the mortgage banking industry, that can lead to a number of potential crises. If these do not develop, there should be job growth – albeit sporadic, but it should start pointing upward as overall confidence in the economy improves. Of course, if any of the problem areas actually boil over, all bets are off!


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