“Most people don’t find title & escrow work, title & escrow work finds them.” This is a common refrain in the title industry and one Bill O’Connell, Underwriting Director at First American Title Insurance Company (and upcoming ALTA ONE presenter), believes we should pay close attention to.
At a time when recruiting talent is often equated to building an “alluring tech culture” with ping pong tables, catered lunch, and other big-tech perks, O’Connell believes there needs to be more focus on attracting the right talent. “We’re not Google. We don’t need to attract 10,000 people. We just need to attract one or two of the right people,” he said.
Next month at ALTA ONE, O’Connell and Amy Gregory of Florida Agency Network will discuss the 8 talents title & escrow businesses should look for in their next recruit. We caught up with O’Connell to discuss his upcoming presentation, the industry’s reputation, and how title & escrow businesses can start thinking differently about recruiting new talent.
“Very Few People End Up in This Business on Purpose”
O’Connell says there’s two common jokes about working in the title & escrow industry:
- “We all got here by accident.” In other words, “Very few people end up in the business on purpose.”
- “Once you’re in the business, it’s like Hotel California. You can check in, but you can never leave.”
These two jokes, while slightly self-deprecating, also hint at a sense of pride. Title & escrow professionals comprise of a relatively small group compared to other professions, and the work is nearly unparalleled in its intricacy and specialization. O’Connell believes that taking the time to hand-pick the right recruits and repositioning title work will put the industry in a good position to attract and retain the next generation of title professionals.
Repositioning Title Work
O’Connell believes the industry doesn’t always do enough to position title & escrow work in an enticing way. “When we describe the industry, we immediately get into the weeds,” he said. “We need to pull back and explain the bigger picture of what we’re doing.” Programs like ALTA’s HOP are doing a lot of work to reposition the title industry’s value around protecting property rights, and similar messaging can help when recruiting new hires.
O’Connell also says that title & escrow professionals need to speak passionately about their work. “If you want to inspire, you’ve got to be inspired,” he said. “It’s all about how you package the work.”
In the title industry, there’s incredible potential for growth and endless problem solving opportunities — not to mention, title & escrow professionals carry enormous responsibility to safely handle billions of dollars in real estate transactions every year. The rapid pace of technological change in the industry also presents exciting opportunities to get in at the ground level and define processes around digital transactions.
These differentiators won’t attract everyone, but O’Connell believes they will attract the right breed of innate problem solvers who are passionate about real estate.
Recruiting the Next Generation of Title & Escrow Professionals
O’Connell believes that finding the right talent comes down to careful sourcing. Title & escrow work requires problem solving, attention to detail, and other innate skills that O’Connell says can’t really be “taught.” For that reason, he recommends that title & escrow businesses keep the following in mind when searching for new talent:
- Make recruitment a priority. “If you’re always hiring in crisis mode, you’ll take the first person who walks in the door,” O’Connell said. He encourages title & escrow businesses to be proactive in their approach to hiring to avoid the pitfalls of hiring panic.
- Treat your people well. Businesses that prioritize their employees’ well-being and offer growth opportunities nurture an entire team of “recruiters” who naturally promote their company and the positions available within.
- Make sure you’re searching for the right qualities. Create a thoughtful interview process that gets to the heart of what makes a potential hire tick and if they have the innate qualities necessary to thrive in title & escrow work.
O’Connell and Gregory will discuss the 8 qualities title & escrow professionals possess in greater detail during their ALTA ONE session next month. Qualia will be there too. Click HERE to see where you can catch us at ALTA ONE.