Mortgage Careers 2010 Jun 18 2010

Foot in the Door: The Perfect Mortgage Resume

By alina dizik

Demand has shifted within the mortgage industry. Despite layoffs in the past two years, there's now a need for qualified professionals in areas like distressed mortgage and within the financial corporations affected by regulatory changes, say experts. Putting together a stellar resume can help you move into growing areas of the industry.

To attract employers, convey in your resume what you've learned from the most recent real estate bubble. "You really want to come across as kind of worrier and [show that] not everything is going to be wonderful and rosy down the road," says Leanne Lachman, an executive in residence at the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate at Columbia University, who adds that employers are now looking for mortgage professionals that understand risk management no matter what their role is in the organization.

Here are additional ways to perfect your resume. Check out before and after sample resumes, provided courtesy of GetInterviews.com.

Use Reverse Chronological Format
It seems like obvious advice, but is especially important with a mortgage resume today. A resume that does not follow a reverse chronological format can be seen as a way to avoid disclosing past experience in an industry that's known for high turnover. With so many candidates vying for each open position keep the standard format, says Tom Geraci, an executive recruiter of mortgage at Fifth Third Bank, who sees more than 300 resumes each day. "If your resume is one lump of data, it would be hard to dissect what separates you from the pack," he says. "We as recruiters like to see a easy-to-follow chronological resume."

Highlight Position-Specific Skills
Since there are so many different positions in the mortgage industry it's important to hone in on exactly what it is you're best at instead of casting too wide a net, says Alesia Benedict, CEO of Getinterviews.com. For example, list sales and specific loan origination achievements if you're looking for a mortgage broker position. Or include areas of expertise like quality control and risk management, which are in demand for mortgage bankers, according to a spokesperson for PennyMac, a Calif.-based mortgage firm. Specific terms can also help when resumes are being scanned electronically for keywords. To get your resume to the top of the pile, include keywords from similar job postings. For instance, when applying for a loan office position, listing your Certified Mortgage Banker designation may help your resume get noticed.

Demonstrate Career Progression
If you've moved up through the ranks, it's essential to convey this in your resume. Be sure to include all of your roles under the company heading—especially if you've gone from loan officer to vice president in your four years at the firm. Additionally, when describing your roles, list accomplishments rather than pure descriptions, says Benedict.

Provide Telling Details
It's easy to get caught up in generic statements when talking about your previous roles. Instead, spend time thinking of short but to-the-point explanations that can help set you apart from the competition. "When we are looking to hire mortgage loan officers, we want to know what a potential employee's responsibility is for building a file -- what your day-to-day activities are," says Geraci, of Fifth Third. "In mortgage recruiting, we want to know more than 'you build relationships in the market'."

Find Transferable Skills
If you're looking to switch into the mortgage industry, creating a resume that highlights important transferable skills is key, says Geraci. At Fifth Third Bank, Geraci looks for consumer credit or sales experience when recruiting employees to the mortgage division.

Convey Knowledge About Risk
After the financial crisis, many firms want to know that potential employees have learned their lesson. "If you were working for a developer, it's going to be hard to convince people that you are cautious enough. Or that you didn't have too optimistic assumptions if you were an acquisitions person," says Lachman. Use bullet points to demonstrate how you've incorporated risk management strategies into your previous positions. Or if you've attended recent training sessions that discuss risk management and the importance of underlying assumptions, be sure to add it under the education section of your resume.

Rewrite Often
There's not one perfect resume that can help you apply to every mortgage job. Instead, better your chances by tailoring your resume to specific opportunities like broker or underwriter opportunities. "There is not one resume for every career discipline within the mortgage industry," says Timothy Howard, president of Howard Masters Group, a recruiting firm for the mortgage banking industry. Look to highlight specific experiences that reference requirements listed in each job description. Loan officers may want to stress stellar communications skills, while mortgage bankers should point out their quantitative skills.

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With the changes in the types of mortgage-related jobs available, it's important that your resume shows how you're keeping up with industry trends like developing more stringent underwriting standards, for example. Keep in mind that while your resume can only help you at the beginning of your search, it's essential to take the time to come up with one that stands out. As thousands of professionals who've been laid off from the mortgage industry are looking for ways to get rehired, the hiring process will continue to be extremely competitive.

Related Content:
-- The Perfect Finance Resume

-- The Perfect Finance Cover Letter

-- Explaining Employment Gaps in Your Resume and on Interviews




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