Default Expertise in Demand Despite Tough Job Market

The difficult mortgage market seen recently has been toughest on "front line" positions in the business, according to Roger Iris, senior vice president of industry staffing firm Workway here.

The "least desirable" positions in the market recently have been "processing and underwriting, anything having to do with producing a loan and actually closing a loan," he said.

"These are not easy times for individuals who have that experience."

However, he noted that "a loan officer with a good book of business" still is "worth gold to a lot of different companies."

In contrast, the difficult mortgage market has proven "most favorable" as far as work opportunities for those in "servicing, default, collections and loan counseling," Mr. Iris said.

As a result of these trends, Mr. Iris recommends that former underwriters or processors who previously worked on the "front end" of the business and now may be out of work may want to stress "any experience whatsoever" with servicing or foreclosure when interviewing.

He also noted that even those who lack servicing or foreclosure experience may be able to find positions in these areas as the staffing needs have started to exceed the available supply of those with the specific backgrounds needed. He said most companies prefer individuals with mortgage knowledge to those with none at all because they are easier to train.

Mr. Iris also said recruiters have shown a growing interest in Federal Housing Administration experience and advises industry job seekers to include it on their resumes if they have it.

Some recruiting and training consultants in the market have been advising companies to hire inexperienced job seekers, citing the loyalty and ease of training someone who does not have habits learned elsewhere that might conflict with their new company's directives. However, Mr. Iris said that "in this current market most companies are looking for someone to be productive immediately."

He warned that, while there are jobs to be had in today's residential mortgage-related markets despite their troubles, industry employers might not offer as much in the way of hours, benefits or compensation as they used to.

When asked whether market conditions today may mean people have to leave the industry, Mr. Iris said such a move would be a matter of personal choice and may depend on an individual's financial circumstances.

Those with origination market experience, even those who previously served in more operational positions such as underwriters or loan processors, may have been used to commissions/incentives that were a "big windfall" to them and will find that they have to reduce their expectations in the current market if they want to stay in the mortgage business, Mr. Iris said.

In today's market, those looking for a way to gain more money over time may want to target companies that appear to be positioned for growth and offer potential ways to advance internally instead, he said.

Mr. Iris also advises prospective industry job seekers that recruiters have been showing a preference for offering less-than-full-time positions on the order of 30 to 35 hours a week. He said today's offered jobs also may be temporary in nature and require those that do them to come in during particular periods in the work cycle that might be busier than others, such as month-end, for example. This helps struggling industry employers manage their costs, Mr. Iris said. He said Workway offers possible assistance to employees who take temporary jobs with a lack of health insurance benefits. Specifically, the company makes available additional health insurance for a price that is designed to supplement the coverage employees laid off through no fault of their own can get under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconstruction Act, according to Mr. Iris.

Among other insights Mr. Iris shares that recruiters and job seekers may find helpful is some knowledge of regional employment prospects. He said he has seen the recent development of more job opportunities in the Southwest, a market that had been through a real estate market downturn over a year ago. In contrast, other markets just "starting to feel the pain," such as in Florida and the Southeast have been experiencing more job losses and layoffs. Texas holds a lot of opportunity in the form of servicing jobs and Arizona has a number of foreclosure-related positions available, he said.

Mr. Iris said his company may be able to help match up job seekers and recruiters through its 20 offices nationwide and its website. Job seekers pay no fee to use the company's services. (c) 2007 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com/