If you’re thinking about looking for a job in a call center, then you’re in good company. According to the US Department of Labor, call center employees comprise 3% of all the jobs in the country! In addition, the call center industry is growing and expected to keep rising for the foreseeable future. Because of the tremendous growth of the industry, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to find an available spot for yourself.
What does it take?
All college & high school level applicants are welcome. Want to see if you are qualified for the position? For necessary credentials, most entry level CSR jobs require at the very minimum a high school diploma. For the more skilled positions like help desk response and tech support services, a college degree is preferred and often required. If you can speak a language fluently (other than English of course) your likelihood of being hired and having a higher starting salary just increased. If you can only speak English, don’t worry, and don’t let that stop you from applying as most operators are proficient in English only.
Be nice on the phone and ace your telephone interview. Your primary job will be answering calls so you will need to have a pleasant phone voice and great people skills. An interesting point here is that many call centers will conduct your first interview over the phone. If you fumble and don’t do well in the phone interview, you probably won’t be called back a second time. If a phone interview is a new concept for you, get a friend or a family member and do a mock telephone interview to see how you fare. Get them to ask typical interview questions about your employment history, your skills, and why you think you would be the ideal candidate for a call center job and you’ll be fine.
How strong is your spine? A strong backbone and the ability to respond positively to stressful situations are important. You should be comfortable dealing with people on the phone, including people who may at times be difficult or upset. Call center agents (that’s what you’ll be called) have a good deal of information at their fingertips and are always able to effectively communicate and answer questions. The trick is keeping the callers calm while you resolve their issues. When callers are angry, 99% of the time they just want an apology and a promise that their problem will be fixed.
Are you a good problem solver? Depending on what kind of call center work you’re pursuing, listening, putting people at ease, asking questions, and solving problems can be very important skills. If you’re considering telemarketing, sales experience or natural sales aptitude will help you stand out from the other applicants.
Become very familiar with multitasking. Call center work can be quite intense. Centers are answerable to their clients for agent productivity which means your time will be closely monitored and your results measured. Software-controlled dialing (in “outbound” call centers) will make sure there’s very little time between calls. You’ll need to be productive for an entire shift and will probably be pretty closely supervised. If you don’t think you’d do well in such circumstances, consider looking elsewhere.
What will I do?
There are different kinds of call centers. In “inbound” centers, people will be calling you. You may be fielding calls for customer service, technical support or sales inquiries. In addition, you may be performing receptionist duties. “Outbound” centers are primarily telemarketing operations, though there are also centers specializing in debt collection, or customer support as well. Depending on the answering services the company offers, you may also be responding to live chat requests, Twitter posts, and Facebook comments. Other tasks may include data entry, bookkeeping, and paycheck processing.
Where will I work?
Once upon a time, call centers only employed onsite call agents, usually in cubicles with pictures of their dogs and children adorning their personal space. The bulk of centers still operate in this way. For those, you’ll need to find companies located close to where you live. Some internet job sites and message board searching should net a few possibilities. Even local companies that contract with call centers may be able to give you some leads on local call centers. Local businesses like doctors or plumbers will be your best bet for leads as they are likely candidates to outsource to a call center. Thanks to cloud computing and telecommunications advances, “virtual” call centers are becoming increasingly common. In these “centers” you work from your home and calls are routed to you, or you’re given a script and a list of prospects. You’ll need a headset, a computer and a speedy internet connection as you’ll be using your employer’s on-site software. In either case, these jobs pay a fair and competitive wage. And depending on your performance and productivity, increases are fairly common. Because they operate around the clock, all center jobs are often quite flexible in their shift scheduling. Part-time work and off-hour shifts are available in most operations. Doing a Google search for “work at home call centers” or “work at home call center jobs” should give you a few leads.
If you’re well-suited to these tasks, there’s a good chance you’ll quickly find work as a call agent. With good pay, flexible scheduling and ideal working conditions, this can be an exciting career opportunity. The call center industry isn’t going anywhere, and it’s growing. Landing a job in this industry can be a great long term investment.
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Image Courtesy: Microsoft Office