Bank helping unemployed homeowners find work

Employment counseling cheaper than foreclosing on delinquent borrowers

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 19, 2013

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If the homeowner showed interest, a connection was made to NextJob, which assigned a one-on-one coach going forward. The counseling was free and not mandatory.

"Coaching involved motivation, education and connection," says Courtney. "Motivation is important in most cases because homeowners who are in default often have been unemployed for some time. When you face long-term unemployment you often face depression and struggle to have hope that there are jobs available or that you can land any of those jobs"

The first job of the counselor then is to instill hope. That involves giving job seekers facts about the job market, and strategies that can work.

For example, one of the most important things for a job seeker to understand is that half the jobs that are open are not publicly posted. If, as a job seeker, you just apply to the jobs that are visible or advertised and you get to the end of those, you think you are done, that there are no more opportunities.

In fact, through networking and effective cold calling, job seekers can open the door to another 50 percent of all the jobs.

Fifth Third's employment counseling program has attracted the attention of other banks. The bank has made presentations to the industry and Meade makes it clear he would like to see other banks do something similar, just because it is a good idea.

The media has also discovered the program, and that has given the bank a lot of good publicity, which Meade says will improve the percentage of customers who opt for counseling.

"Bank customers are often surprised that a bank would do this for them," says Courtney. "They are very thankful and encouraged to have someone who can help them break through what has been a dead end job search."

The key takeaway: people who are employed pay their bills.

"Once customers find employment, they become current on their mortgage very quickly," says Meade. "We are very pleased with the outcome and that's why we are expanding it. I'm hoping for more success stories."

Steve Bergsman is a freelance writer in Arizona and author of several books. His latest book, "The Death of Johnny Ace," is now available for sale on Amazon.

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