Ghost Town: A Glimpse at American Home Mortgage’s Once Near-Perfect Careers Website

By all accounts, American Home Mortgage Investment Corp.’s envy-inducing careers website is what most companies wish they could replicate. A forward-thinking, innovative, and tech-savvy site, it appeals to both Gen Y and Boomers alike.

Unfortunately for AHM’s recruiting and marketing teams, all that Web-savvy success doesn’t mean anything when your company slashes 90% of its workers.

Once the nation’s 10th-biggest home lender, last week the company announced that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and was laying off the overwhelming majority of workers. From more than 7,000 employees, the company whittled its workforce down to just 750 workers after some of Wall Street’s biggest creditors, including Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., UBS, and Bear Stearns, refused to finance new mortgage loans made through the company.

This is, of course, merely the latest sign of a distressed mortgage industry, as American Home Mortgage is one of 14 different lenders to announce it is either shutting down or seeking bankruptcy protection.

The company’s chief executive, Michael Strauss, said in a statement that market conditions in both the secondary mortgage market as well as the national real estate market “have deteriorated to the point that we have no realistic alternative.”

Careers With No Boundaries

Despite the market volatility, and the fact that the company is obviously not hiring anyone any time soon, it is interesting to observe what they did right to attract workers on its main careers website.

(Note that some of these links may not work as the company consolidates functions in the coming weeks.)

Under a bold “Careers Spotlight” box, the company has an updated, prominent list of open positions and indicates it’s hiring IT talent in Melville, New York, customer care in Irving, Texas, and a loan funder in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, among other open positions.

The site boasts interesting career descriptions, comprehensive benefits, information on recruiting events, and a can’t-miss referral link that directly asks prospective candidates, “Know a Good Mortgage Consultant?”

The benefits section outlines maternity care, domestic partnership eligibility, and matching 401(k) investments, in addition to annual blood drives, health education workshops, and urgent-care services.

The website does not feature blogs, podcasts, or even video descriptions of certain open positions. However, it does include photos of smiling workers who describe challenging environments. For example, “Alex” in Facilities notes, “I like the growth opportunities and the career path open to me. Over the last three years, I have been able to grow and take on more and more.”

Solid Sales Training

Under a special link for sales professionals, American Home Mortgage outlines its “dynamic” marketing, products, operational excellence, innovative technology, strong leadership, and incentives and rewards.

Follow a link for “comprehensive training,” and any sales professional — passive or active — would be impressed by the organized curriculum-style list that details the breadth of training provided to sales associates.

The company boasts of a “culture of learning and career enrichment” through 75 different programs. From regional training to virtual offerings, employees were offered a selection of flagship courses, as well as sales-training courses that address real-life issues and scenarios.

The company’s management-training courses “provide guidance on how to lead and motivate in a corporate setting” through classes like Manager’s Acclimation Training; Gear-Up for Mortgage Professionals; Supervisory Skills; and Effective Business Communications.

The company’s technology courses were designed “with an in-depth understanding of your daily work and process requirements in mind.” Course offerings included Microsoft Outlook, Loansoft, UniFi, and general database management.

For obvious reasons, many companies might shy away from copying American Home Mortgage’s business model, but that doesn’t mean the hard work the company put into its careers website should be ignored altogether.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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