This post originally appeared on the Call Center Demo and Conference website. I'll be facilitating a session at the conference titled "Staff Up! 10 Ways to Hire and Train Faster" on Tuesday, October 22. The conference is in Atlanta, Georgia and early-bird rates expire this Friday, September 6.
You’ve just gotten the green light to add some staff to your call center team. Adding headcount will bring some much needed relief to an overworked team, but it can take quite a bit of time to get new employees hired and up to speed. Unfortunately, you don’t have a lot of time.
This post offers five tips to help you speed up the process. But, before you get started, make sure you have two prerequisites:
- A profile of the ideal candidate
- A way to screen candidates to ensure they meet the ideal criteria.
These two items will ensure you know what you are looking for and can tell the difference between a qualified and an unqualified applicant. You’re welcome to download my free worksheet and view the short how-to videos if you haven’t completed these steps already: www.toistersolutions.com/competency
Once you have those two prerequisites in place, you’re ready to start hiring. Here are five tips to help you speed up the process.
Tip #1: Hire a temp agency
The knock against temp agencies is they can charge some hefty fees, particularly for temp to hire placements. That may be true, but there are some good reasons why you might turn to an agency to help you hire.
The first is speed. When I managed a call center, I knew I could place a call in the afternoon and have interviews set up the next morning. The second is volume. Temp agencies hire for multiple clients so they have access to a much broader pool of candidates. The third is screening. Agencies can do a lot of basic screening for you that you would otherwise have to do on your own, such as testing for computer skills.
Tip #2: Go hunting
In a perfect world, you post the job ad and watch the qualified applicants come stampeding in. In the real world, this doesn’t always happen. Don’t assume that your next superstar employee is actively looking for a job. Talented employees often have jobs already but could be persuaded to join your team if the right opportunity came along.
Where can you find someone who isn’t looking? Try searching on LinkedIn. Post the job announcement on your own social networks and ask people to share. You can even try networking with employees at the call center across town.
Tip #3: Lower the bar
Before you dismiss this idea as just plain crazy, think about what someone really needs to be successful when they join your company. Each additional requirement decreases the number of available candidates so you can access a broader pool by eliminating requirements.
A great example comes from insurance companies. They often need their call center representatives to be licensed. It would be extremely difficult to find enough licensed insurance professionals to meet their staffing needs so they incorporate the licensing process into their new hire training program.
Tip #4: Find people who are passionate about what you do
When I was a teenager, my first job was in a retail clothing store. Why did I work there? Because I bought all my clothes there and the employee discount was awesome! Once I was hired, I learned the store had a steady stream of applications from people like me so they never had a problem finding new employees.
Many companies have groups of potential employees who are already passionate about your company, your product, or your industry. These people might be customers or just enthusiasts. For nonprofits, they are often volunteers. Find out who they are, where they are, and make sure they see your job posting!
Tip #5: Hire from other departments
Your next call center employee might already work for your company.
Starbucks was one of the site tours at ACCE 2013 in Seattle. The call center we toured assisted employees who worked at Starbucks stores with their human resources needs. On our tour, we learned that most of their contact center employees come from their stores!
This concept can also work for short-term or seasonal staffing needs. When I worked in a large call center, our quality assurance and training teams served as emergency back-up agents. Occasionally, when things got really busy, we’d all get on the phones and answer calls. It helped the call center quickly respond to a spike in calls but it also kept our own skills sharp so we could do a better job of training agents and monitoring calls.
I’ll be sharing more ideas to help you speed up the hiring process at the Call Center Demo and Conference in October. My session is called Staff Up! 10 Ways to Hire and Train Faster and will also include ideas for training new employees once you get them in the door.