Hired! Finding a Home in the Mortgage Field

Landing a dream job with a growing company


Rob Onofrietti never gave up on the mortgage industry.

When house prices began to plummet in 2007, mortgage delinquencies skyrocketed, securities backed with subprime mortgages lost their value, and mortgage lenders across the country began shutting their doors. By August 2007, more than 40,000 workers had lost their jobs at mortgage-lending institutions. And that was just the beginning. That same month, the largest mortgage lender in the U.S., Countrywide Financial Corp., began layoffs and the subprime lending collapse continued to spread throughout the financial sector and even to other institutions.

Onofrietti was one of hundreds of thousands caught up in the retrenchment maelstrom that followed. A mortgage-industry broker and a certified mortgage banker, Onofrietti had been in the industry for eight years, the last six or so with Chase Mortgage. And so when his position was eliminated in early 2008, Onofrietti, unlike some of his former colleagues who fled to positions in other fields, chose to narrow his search for new employment within the mortgage industry. “I feel that the industry still has a lot to offer,” the Toms River, N.J., resident said with confidence. “It is in a terrible mess right now, but I believe that within the next year to 18 months, it is going to be a much different place to play, and I believe there are going to be a lot of opportunities there.”

There was no quick solution. Seven months of unemployment followed. “I can tell you that being out of work as long as I have been has been no fun. And I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.” But when Onofrietti came across Ladders.com, it provided him not only with career options and advice but also ensured that he kept his hand in the game. “Ladders was the only Web site that I used religiously. And I can say that I feel very fortunate because even over the last seven months while I had been out of work, I have been able to interview pretty consistently.”

Visiting SalesLadder daily gave Onofrietti a sense of structure, purpose and direction at a time when he could have fallen into a malaise: “I would get up, help my kids up, and then I would be on Ladders for an hour and a half every day. I would probably send out 15 or 20 resumes a day. I was always getting responses, and I was always interviewing.”

Nevertheless, the cooling economy required him to adjust expectations and brace himself for further changes and disappointments. “A lot of times,” he recalled, “I got to the finish line, but then economic factors came into play. I had at least four positions pulled out from underneath me. And that has been heartbreaking in and of itself.”

His persistence paid off, however, and ultimately he had not one but two job offers on the table via Ladders. Onofrietti is now director of sales at Dreambuilder Investments LLC, a New York company that helps homeowners resolve mortgage difficulties. “Given the industry that they are in and the expertise that I have, they were as impressed by me as I was by them. And it went pretty quickly. I was excited about it. It was a very easy process.”

Surprisingly, Onofrietti’s new firm is in expansion mode. “They have been in business for six or seven years now, and they are ready to expand and take their business to the next level. Up and until now they have been a small Wall Street company, but today their business model is growing. Before, all of the job functions were being done by three or four people, but now they really need to bring in some more expertise to specialize.”

Onofrietti said he’s upbeat about his future and that of the mortgage industry. He conceded that mistakes have been made that should not be repeated, and he sees a chance to help usher in a new approach. Companies like Dreambuilder, Onofrietti said, want to help people stay out of foreclosure and bring stability to the industry. “They are going to clean up the mortgages and then resell them because they are going to put a payment in front of the customers that they are going to be able to live with. The banks can’t handle these foreclosures. They were never meant to. Banks don’t want to own your home. They are losing money hand over fist when they foreclose on a home. But unfortunately, that has been the only option until now.”

And for those men and women still seeking mortgage-industry work, Onofrietti advised them to stay the course: “I knew all along this was really what I wanted to be doing. I was just fortunate to find a home.”