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7 Tips To Land Your First Customer Service Call Center Job


Sales and technical support teams are like little armies protecting a company’s reputation. Call center representatives, meanwhile, are like field commanders who answer calls, troubleshoot issues, and track all of their progress to protect the company and its customers.

But being a call center representative requires a lot of skills related to marketing, sales, and management—and it’s also a highly stressful job at times—so it’s not always clear why someone would go after such a challenging position. However, when the market is competitive, being a really good call center representative can lead to huge opportunities down the line.

Even today, certain technologies are already advancing and affecting the competitive landscape of call centers in new ways. 

For example, modern chatbots and self-service menus are removing the need for many call center agents to deal with some of the easiest and most repetitive customer support tasks, leaving only the more advanced customer issues for them to handle. This means that highly skilled human agents are becoming more important than ever—especially at a time when 64% of customers will switch their loyalty to brands with proper phone-based customer service. 

When it comes down to it, customer service centers present many opportunities for agents who possess the right skill sets, and the jobs themselves have low barriers to entry along with high flexibility and tons of room for career advancement. 

That said, if you’re a first-time call center job seeker and you’re wondering what to expect from the application process, just know that the right tips and tricks can pave the way to a pretty comfy career.

Tip 1: Choose the Right Type of Call Center

The term “call center” is a catch-all for at least four main types that you can apply to—namely inbound, outbound, blended, and offshore call centers. Each of these has its own benefits and limitations.

Inbound call center

Businesses and their customers are often linked through inbound call centers. These are the support centers that customers get in touch with when they have a product question, a return issue, a quality concern, or a technical support need.

When you work at one of these call centers, you’ll serve on the main line of defense for your company’s brand image. It requires patience and interpersonal skills to resolve all kinds of issues that customers will throw at you every day. You’ll also need to be prepared for the sudden deluge of calls the center will get during high-volume seasons and holidays.

This call center type is perfect if you enjoy solving problems and don’t mind tackling the rush of the busy seasons. As the ambassador to a brand, you’ll get to flex your marketing muscles too, which could be beneficial for future job applications and promotions.

Outbound call center

Outbound call center representatives don’t wait around for customers to have questions, as they place the calls themselves. This means sales calls, telemarketing, customer surveys, and more. 

Since outbound call centers require agents to break the ice of cold calling and start many conversations per day, outgoing people are the perfect fit for the job. It requires the flexibility to handle many outreach types, including generating leads, assisting with debt recovery, and cross-selling products and services to existing customers. This can be especially helpful if you’re looking to add sales experience to your CV.

Blended call center

If inbound centers take calls and outbound centers make them, blended call centers do both—depending on the situation. In this position, agents can be asked to make sales one day and resolve customer issues the next. 

For a lot of businesses, having a blended call center provides a streamlined solution to manage diverse needs. Of course, if the center has double the tasks, that means its agents require double the training.

In other words, blended call centers are perfect if you want to become a jack of all (call center) trades. As a result, working at one can boost your management, sales, and customer support experience all at once.

Offshore call centers

If you get a job at an offshore call center, the business that you take calls for can be oceans away in a country with different operating costs and timezone-specific needs. These centers often have multilingual support agents and 24/7 availability in order to cater to international customers.

This type of call center is perfect for someone who wants to gain international support experience, speaks another language, and enjoys the challenges of cross-cultural communication.

Tip 2: Monitor the Job Boards Daily

Although job boards may seem antiquated (since they aren’t technically boards anymore), the employment sections of top sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, FlexJobs, Facebook, and ZipRecruiter should be your first stop when looking for a call center job. 

Keep in mind that there are also call center-specific job boards like CallCenterCrossing and CallCenterJobs. These can be more competitive, but the hyper-specificity can make your search process easier. 

In any case, even if you’re using a variety of job boards, there are good and bad practices to consider.

Firstly, make sure you’re checking them every day, preferably in the morning. Secondly, you have to be fast, as these jobs don’t hang around long before getting loaded with applicants. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to apply for a job that sounds like a good fit even if it’s been listed for three weeks already, but if you’re looking to be one of the first applicants to stand out, you’ll want to keep an eye on the freshest posts. 

When you’re ready to apply, the tips for using most job boards are the same.

  • Cast a wide net by searching on multiple job boards
  • Check every day for new listings
  • Keep your resume updated
  • Use location filters to narrow your search
  • Search for keywords related to your top skills
  • Set up new job alerts for each board as necessary
  • Check reviews from sites like Indeed and Glassdoor to get a feel for your potential employer
  • Send out personalized messages when submitting applications

Remember that consistency is key when using online job boards. You should be checking them every day and responding quickly if you expect to nab the best jobs.

Tip 3: Schedule an Informational Interview

Informational interviews will be your bread and butter as you look for customer service call center jobs. They may sound intimidating, but all they entail is reaching out to call center managers and asking some questions.

First, you’ll need their phone number, which may require a few calls, some research, or a well-placed email requesting an interview. Second, you’ll need to prepare some pointed questions about what you’re hoping to learn. You can ask about the expected career progression, the culture of the company, and the skills the managers expect from new employees. If you can learn what their ideal call center candidate is like, you can tailor your resume to their expectations.

Keep in mind that you are not limited to managers when conducting these interviews. You can also interview a current or past call center employee to get a feel for what it’s really like to work there on a daily basis.

Online forums, FAQs, contact forms, and even video comment sections can also give you more opportunities to reach out and learn more about your prospective employer. Just remember to keep everything professional.

Tip 4: Tailor Your Resume

Having a good resume is a no-brainer no matter the job, so make sure you’re polishing your resume so that it’s appealing to hiring managers in the specific industry and job type you’re applying to. 

Once you’ve learned what skills and traits the call center is expecting you to have, try to make your resume reflect that. Use active verbs in your job experience section and focus on the skills you learned. Most managers are more interested in your credentials than your intentions.

For example, don’t say, “Worked as a customer service rep,” since all that tells the manager is what your position was. Instead, say what you actually did, such as, “Facilitated customer service returns and fielded customer complaints.”

The difference is that instead of just listing your experience, you’re now highlighting the actionable skills that you acquired—which the hiring manager can count on when you start your new position.

Tip 5: Get Call Center Certifications and Skills

If you’re preparing for a job in this industry, you should be looking for opportunities to acquire some juicy call center certifications and skills. While some of these are just helpful for you to learn the ropes, many of them are good for your resume—and a lot of them are free. 

First, you should know what certifications to look for, which often depends on your call center’s specific field. There are many certifications out there, but here are a few industry-specific examples: 

  • HIPAA Professional
  • Certified Information Technology Professional
  • Certified Network Computer Technician
  • International Accredited Business Accountant
  • Certified Personal Trainer
  • Professional Credit Associate

Of course, you could always go for the classic and become a Certified Customer Service Specialist—but no matter what certification you’re looking for, you’ll need to know where to find it. 

Thankfully, the internet is stuffed with opportunities for fledgling agents to spread their wings. Coursera, for example, offers a course on call center customer service. There are lots of courses like this out there on the internet, and many of them are free to audit, meaning you can check them out without paying anything. Of course, you’ll have to pay to get official certifications, but that’s up to you. 

Coursera has many communication courses for you to pick up skills, but it’s not the only option out there. Udemy has a call center agent course that helps students better understand call center positions and how to land a good job in the field. 

Google Certificates is another place to look for call center certificates. 

You can even try courses specific to the industry, such as those offered by CMP Research.

Keep in mind that online courses aren’t the final word on improving your call center chops. YouTube channels like CareerVidz and Rea Ninja can help you get better at everything from the interview to the day-to-day job, and there are many books out there to read as well, including: 

  • Never Split the Difference
  • Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet 
  • Call Center Fundamentals: Workforce Management
  • Call Center Optimization
  • Call Center: A Focus on Customer Service
  • Call Centers for Dummies
  • Call Center Rocket Science: 110 Tips to Creating a World-Class Customer Service Organization

One thing to note is that even if a book is about managing a call center, you can still learn valuable tips related to being a service representative. At the same time, you may also be prepping for your own management strategies someday.

Tip 6: Find Out Everything You Can About the Call Center

As part of your research and interviewing, you should be learning everything you can about the call centers you’re considering. Remember that during your interview you’ll be asked why you want to work there and what you can bring to the table.

The internet is your best friend to learn about the companies you interview with. Company websites, LinkedIn profiles, and other resources are out there for you to investigate. Make yourself a frequent visitor to these pages to find out important details such as the following:

  • Which companies the call center supports
  • The communication tools used at the call center
  • Management styles and practices
  • The history of the business
  • The general reviews of past workers
  • Salary and benefits
  • Career advancement opportunities
  • The vibe of the working environment
  • The call center’s turnover rate
  • The managerial work experience

Remember that you aren’t just looking for the salary and benefits you can expect—though that’s usually the first stop for most people. You’re also looking at what the company is like, how past employees feel about it, and what the current managers are going to bring to your career.

As much as you’re looking for a call center to further your career, the hiring manager is looking for employees to fit their values and work ethics. Try to focus on both angles when researching the options.

Tip 7: Ace the Interview

Nailing the interview can seem like a tall order, but there are a lot of resources to help you prepare. 

Many experienced interviews end up on YouTube helping others get the jobs they used to have. Check out “How to Ace an Interview” by Self Made Millennial, for instance. Once again, you can also check out some free prep courses from Coursera and similar organizations.

Naturally, all interviewers are different, but most interviews at call centers follow a specific pattern. Some of the questions you can expect to hear include the following: 

  • What experience do you have in customer service?
  • Why do you want to be a call center representative?
  • What do you enjoy about communicating with people?
  • How well do you cope with social pressure?
  • How do you handle telling customers information that they won’t like?
  • How do you handle customers who get angry?
  • What’s your strategy for staying productive while multitasking?
  • How do you make sure you meet your work targets and goals?
  • What are your future customer service career plans?

You may not be asked any of these questions verbatim, but you should be ready to answer them. Just remember that the interview isn’t only about how well you can handle the job—it’s also about how well you can fit into the company.

How to Become a Good Call Center Agent

Getting the job is one thing, doing it well is another. Follow these key steps and you’ll be a good representative:

  1. Familiarize yourself with all the call center’s policies
  2. Make friends with the best agents that work there
  3. Take your product and equipment training seriously
  4. Keep researching articles on how to communicate better
  5. Listen to examples of great call center recordings
  6. Meet with your peers to ask for advice
  7. Ask your manager to clarify your benchmarks so you can surpass them

Being a great call center agent is a process, not a one-time performance. Once you’ve gotten the job, you’ll have plenty of time to keep improving. If you’ve picked the right place, your managers and co-workers will be on your side, helping you hit your targets and move right on to the next ones.




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