A record number of people left their jobs since early 2020. Even so, there are also a lot of folks who may have wanted to leave, but stayed put.
Why? I imagine that many didn’t want to add undue risk to their financial situations. In the mortgage industry, we faced an added challenge: the weight and workloads of record-breaking origination volume.
Altogether, these forces made it even harder than usual for most to consider a switch — at least until production started to slow.
Well, fast forward to late 2021 and 2022. The dust has started to settle and a demand for change has started to surface among the U.S. workforce, and that includes our industry.
There’s something different about today’s career change-seekers. They seem to want more than “just a job.” They have started asking themselves serious life questions, about the value of time, their day-to-day priorities, what they want for the future, what brings meaning to their work lives, and what matters most in their lives going forward.
All this adds up to even more angst and difficulty when it comes to taking that first step toward change.
In honor of International Women’s Day, I asked some of the industry’s top professionals, who also happen to be women, to share what their career changes have taught them.
Today, 13 of the industry’s top business minds offer insights that range from practical advice about contracts and planning, to wisdom on strength and intuition, to help you avoid roadblocks and achieve success, whether you’re considering a career transition, setting into a recent change, or managing staff members who may be yearning for something new.
Chief of Staff, Director of Mortgage Strategic Initiatives
My advice is to slow down. The mortgage market is awash in jobs, and this is a situation where patience is definitely a virtue.
Take the time to find the right fit. People usually leave a job because they’re feeling some pain point. It could be salary, or lack of opportunity, or a personality conflict or lots of other reasons. But seldom is everything bad about a job. Be careful not to take a new job that simply addresses your pain points—make sure that the new job also offers what was right about your old job.
If you don’t look at the whole package, you’re going to end up unhappy again. The moral is don’t just solve for the negatives—pull in the positives, too.
President and COO
Hamilton Home Loans
Navigating change can be one of the most difficult challenges to overcome; personally, and professionally. What appears to be the “right” choice, may be “right” only for now.
Trusting your intuition and exploring options – emotional decisions rarely result in the best outcome – provides peace of mind and confidence.
Understand why you’re making a change. Think past today and ask yourself what it looks like in the future. I remember experiencing a very difficult time when my instinct was to run and surrender. Each day, I got up and kept moving forward, exploring ways to improve, and navigating all the options. It was so tough – but when I finally decided to move on, I knew it was for the right reasons.
To offer your time and yourself to a relationship or a career is a gift. Make sure those receiving your gift understand it’s worth. Keep moving!
Margaret Chiavini, CMB
VP, National Bank and Credit Union Division
Caliber Home Loans
Transition and change can seem scary, but coping and ultimately thriving in the midst of change is a huge competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Navigating transition and change is a skill and you can get good at it.
How do you build this skill? The first step is seeing the possibility in the future that this change could produce for you. To the extent that you can see the possibilities it helps you and it also helps all of those around you. Biologically we feel better when everything is comfortable. When something changes, that can upset our balance.
I want to offer a new narrative on change, one that has the potential to give you brand new opportunities in your career and life. How do we prepare for inevitable change?
- Every time something changes, find the good in it. It may be hard at first, but practice—it is a skill
- Realize that change keeps us “young” and engaged—doing something different engages our creativity and mind in a way that produces more possibilities for our future
- Remember that embracing change creates resiliency for us and those depending on us
As I write this, my company has been acquired by NewRez and my role has changed—a fork in the road for me. I choose to see the possibilities. So welcome change! Your career and your happiness will be better off for it.
CEO & Founder
The Defining Difference
As someone who’s moved through great transition in my personal and professional life, I can share firsthand how I gracefully moved through the fear and uncertainty that’s created through conscious change. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
- Always leave in good standing and on good terms (to the best of your ability) and ask for the door to be left open in case you choose to return
- Do the right thing. Leave with full integrity, even if it means leaving money on the table
- Create a plan to protect those you are leaving behind, so you can leave in good faith and in good conscience
- Never badmouth your past company, past partners or coworkers, but instead speak to the future and why this change is good for you and/or your clients, partners, etc.…
- Focus on the road ahead and do not look back in the rearview mirror
- Give every move a full 90 days without judgement, as change is hard, and our instinct wants to pull us back to what we know and what feels safe
- Embrace the “Hallway of Uncertainty” when you choose to make a transition. Here’s the link to the transparent blog I wrote when I resigned as Executive Vice President from a national mortgage bank to launch my own coaching company.
SVP Divisional Manager, NW Division
Homebridge Financial Services
I was seven months pregnant with twins when my manager asked if I wanted to take over a branch where a manager had just left. The catch was that it was three hours away and it would require us to move. The upside was that it was in my hometown where we had family.
After a lot of conversation and prayer I decided to take the job. The next year was one of the toughest periods of my life. I was a producing branch manager in an empty branch that I was responsible to build with two new babies.
I learned the following:
- Ask for help. People want to help you.
- Stay connected to your WHY. It’s your North Star.
- Don’t give up! If it was easy everyone would do it.
This opportunity was a pivotal point in my leadership journey. My girls turned 17 this month. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Suha Beidas Zehl
Chief Innovation Officer
In 2021, organizations across the nation experienced a staggeringly high rate of resignations. Some reports have this as high as 1 in 4 Americans have quit their job in 2021. I was one of those four Americans.
There are many reasons why one decides to quit – some say it’s about the management; some say it’s about the opportunity; some say it’s about the culture. For me, it was simply because I no longer felt I was living my purpose.
In my heart of hearts, I knew there was more; and I wanted to figure what that “more” was. Be aware though, it’s a long journey of self-discovery; and one not to be taken lightly. Make sure you are not rushing through the decision and that you are making that decision for the right reasons.
When I was discussing the situation with a friend, she told me I could either stay and fight or resign and take flight. I really thought long and hard about her comment. Why? Because, for me, it no longer was about “fighting” to stay. Nothing “bad” per se had happened. I simply no longer felt I was in the right seat nor did I feel that I was aligned with my purpose and my personal north star. In my situation, I was resigning to fight for myself; and once I saw my decision in that light, the weight was lifted from my shoulder and I no longer felt like I was a failure. No, I felt like a champion and a badass, fighting to lead from my heart and to be more genuinely, well, Suha!
CEO and Founder
Loan Officer Training and Mortgage Women’s Speakers Bureau
One of the most important things to consider when making a change is to read and completely understand your employment contract.
- What expectations does the company have from you?
- Who owns your database?
- How will you get paid?
If you don’t COMPLETELY understand the legalese, ask that the contract be modified so there is no misunderstanding if you ever have to go to court. All contracts are negotiable and changeable. If the company will not allow you to change anything in the contract, know that they are going to be inflexible when it comes to other issues.
The Real State
We’d like to believe that all career changes are aspirational and voluntary, but it’s absolutely possible to be happy and successful in the wake of “unintentional transitions.”
I used my first career as a real estate agent to propel my second career as a major market radio personality. When my morning show run ended, I returned to my real estate roots in different capacities until deciding to start a boutique brokerage this year.
Moving forward takes more than making an inventory of your skills and beating the resume algorithm game. Dig into the arsenal of experience you’ve gained and challenge yourself to figure out how you can improve the field you’re in, contribute to a new generation of the work you do and what other industries or roles that can benefit from your expertise. My path mixes real estate and broadcasting… think of what you can do and create!
Vice President of Marketing
Draper & Kramer
Transitioning to a new company should never be a rash decision. No matter the “why”, leaving a company with grace is always key for a successful future since everyone knows each other in the mortgage business.
- Give constructive criticism to your manager about why you’re no longer a fit at the organization.
- Don’t fall for counteroffers because things won’t magically change, and you’ll be on your company’s radar.
- Avoid bashing employees as that’s never a good look.
- Provide at least two weeks’ notice, write a formal resignation letter
- Most importantly, make sure that your next company meets your core values before signing your offer letter. Read online reviews, check out the management team and their social feeds, find online mentions and do thorough homework.
The grass is not always greener, but you have to be your own advocate, and only you can decide what’s best for your future.
American Financial Resources, Inc.
My advice: don’t be afraid of a major transition. Lean into your intuition, and the right decision will come naturally. I believe that women are already uniquely equipped with the most important tool we need to navigate a major decision like a career change without fear or worry: our intuition.
The fact is, we as women are naturally tuned in to the world that surrounds us; we’re continually gathering information about things both within and outside of our lives, our careers, our organizations, our industries.
When considering a transition, it’s all about leaning into that information we’ve been collecting all along, and applying it within the context of a new decision. By opening our eyes to the data we’re receiving all around us, we can more easily make the right choice for ourselves, our families, and our careers.
Bobbi Jo Dallas
Customer Experience Manager
I think we all can admit that change is really hard (let’s not sugar coat anything here). Periods of change can be stressful. They can make you feel extremely uncomfortable. They can even bring about some of our worst fears.
When I am in a period of change, whether it be personal, professional or spiritual, I always make sure to loop in my support system: my parents, my mentor, and my trusted friends. They act as my sounding board when my judgement is impaired by stress and fear. They speak the truth in love when I am getting to that negative place.
I cannot stress enough how important it has been in my life to lean on my support system and the leaders around me when navigating change.
Peoples Processing, Inc.
In these trying times making a career or job move is a decision in your life to be not taken lightly. It is very important to research and understand the current growth trajectory of the industry or company that you plan to join. Your own research and feedback from contacts within the company or industry certainly helps.
I also feel that while you work at a company, the most important relationships are the ones with your peers and your managers. If you can find out who you are going to be reporting to, and some finer points about your ‘would be’ manager, it always leads to be a better interview.
If your potential employer is asking for a change of location, it is best to consult with family and go with what causes minimum disruptions to a set family routine. I would also look at reviews from past employees to find out if the company encourages a good work-life balance.
CEO, Founder, Strategic Advisor
Bianca Broos Company, Advisor to Axis Lending Academy
Begin a conversation about change, and you will have a host of responses to the idea.
Change is often met with trepidation; it asks us to leave behind a set of habits, thoughts, and ideas – the status quo we so safely inhabited and sets us out into the open, where we are exposed and vulnerable. The most important thing to remember about change is that it’s the most critical activity, incremental as it may be, that sets us on a trajectory of growth. Even when unwelcome, it can be the catalyst to something incredibly fruitful. One of the ways to engage this is with a mindset of curiosity. It’s less about agreeing or pushing back on change and more about being curious about the lesson and the opportunity it offers us—the opportunity to grow and become better versions of ourselves.
Participating in the change means actively engaging in evolving and improving our lives, teams, and companies.
Sue Woodard is a renowned mortgage and fintech evangelist, public speaker and senior advisor at STRATMOR Group