The U.S. housing crisis has led to a mass exodus of mortgage professionals from this industry. With foreclosures and defaults skyrocketing, lending guidelines tightening, and home values plummeting, opportunities for commissions are scarce and layoffs are increasing. It’s tough to make a living originating mortgages when lenders and their loan products are dwindling and qualified borrowers are difficult to locate.
If you’re a mortgage lending professional and considering a career change, here’s some good news: armed with a powerful career change resume, you can successfully break into a new industry. Here’s how to make your resume shine:
1. State your goal. Remove guesswork for employers by clearly stating your career goal towards the beginning of your resume. There are several ways you can do this. My favorite is to create a resume title that spells it out succinctly — such as “Career Goal: Medical/Pharmaceutical Sales.” Another option is to write an objective statement, but make sure that your objective focuses on employers’ needs and not just on what you want. A third choice is to incorporate your goal in a powerful opening profile summarizing your key strengths. (See #3, below.)
2. Emphasize your transferable skills. Loan officers bring a wealth of skills and knowledge to the workplace that are transferable to many industries. Examples include consultative selling, needs analysis, risk assessment, relationship building, presentation skills, inside/outside sales, and computer proficiencies. But you have to spell out these transferable skills on your resume — don’t assume that these skills will be considered a “given” by employers outside the mortgage industry. You can incorporate your transferable skills into virtually all areas of the resume, including the qualifications summary, an “Expertise” (or “Key Skills”) list, and the “Experience” section.
3. Profile your most marketable strengths. A qualifications summary is a must for career changers. Written as a brief paragraph or a few bulleted statements, it gives you the opportunity to tell employers why they should interview you. For example:
“Multimillion-dollar producer motivated to leverage six-year record of sales performance to transition into new product lines and industries. Fast learner of complex products; ‘power user’ of MS Office; and expert prospector, negotiator, presenter, and closer. Consistently deliver quota-surpassing results, and excel in building rapport and enduring relationships with key accounts.”
4. Turn negatives into positives. The ability to survive during tough times is something to tout on your resume. If this is your story, consider adding a bulleted accomplishment or two highlighting this track record. For example:
- “Generated steady referral business despite the collapse of the mortgage industry. Found creative ways to structure deals and meet client needs while adhering to lending guidelines and preserving company profitability.”
5. Use comparisons, pipeline metrics, or production numbers if your current sales have declined. “What do I use for accomplishments when the mortgage industry has tanked?” is a question that was recently posed to me by a loan officer client. You have several options, and depending on the specifics of your situation, at least one of these should be relevant and applicable. Use comparisons to your peers if this presents you in a favorable light.
For example, you may have only closed one deal last month, but if that tied for first place in your office then you can report that you achieved top ranking despite the industry’s decline. Or maybe you’ve been successful in generating a healthy pipeline even though some of these deals may not survive underwriting. Again, highlight the positive. And even if you haven’t received any sales awards this year, include previous honors.
I’ve included a few sample bulleted accomplishment statements below. Not all of these may be applicable to you, but I hope it gives you a jumping-off point to create your own accomplishment statements:
- “Harnessed previously built relationships to continue bringing in deals and closing sales during period when few peers were able to achieve these results.”
- “Consistently led the office in sales volume, earning top rankings for production during periods of high growth as well as market decline.”
- “Maintained a strong pipeline (with $2.5M in pending deals) despite dwindling prospects and product availability.”
- “Honored with numerous awards during five-year tenure, including repeated ‘Top Sales’ distinction for record-breaking production (six months in a row of $1M+ volume).”
6. Minimize industry-specific terms. The widespread negative press the mortgage industry has received, including the largely unpopular bailout plan, has the unfortunate residual side-effect of “guilt by association” for hardworking professionals on the front-lines of this industry. Combat this problem by minimizing industry-specific terms on your resume. Now is not the time to be connected to Fannie or Freddie, and any mentions of “sub-prime,” “Option ARMs,” “Alt-A,” and even the term “mortgage” should be used sparingly on your resume.
I hope this is helpful! If you need additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you would like to discuss having your resume professionally written.