Aug 10, 2011

[Call Centers] Rethinking Recruitment - Lead Sources

Last week, I shared a few of my thoughts on possible alternative strategies for call center recruitment here in the Philippines. The post went on a lot longer than I expected and has generated a decent amount of traffic and responses, so I figured it may not be too bad to continue on in my discussions. Besides, I had generally committed to discussing more of the concepts I presented and how to address some of them.

Flickr: uwgb admissions - 2010 Fall Job & Internship Fair 
2010 Fall Job & Internship Fair by uwgb admissions via Flickr.

Now for the usual disclaimer, I don't claim to be an expert at this point nor do I directly work in Recruitment. My key specialties are more related to training, business development and related support functions. Thus my perspective here is one of a sales person trying to marry the traditional sales cycle with how we handle Recruitment locally, since the two processes are essentially the same. And beyond that core strategy as presented previously, we still need to address the challenge of where to get the people to fill our recruitment funnel. And that's what we'll discuss today.

As with the sales pipeline, it's important to keep the flow of people into the funnel going smoothly. Provided we already took the steps discussed previously to optimize our recruitment process and embed the necessary metrics and analytics at each stage of the process, we can now think about getting more and more people into the funnel. Now in this case, the strength of your agent profile is of paramount importance.

Provided you know exactly the kind of agent you need for a particular client program, then your efforts can go into ensuring steady access to those types of lead sources. Can a fresh graduate perform the work you're offering? Does it require specialized skills that are typically only found within the industry or is it something else entirely? Do certain college degree holders do better in said program compared to others or is there no statistical relevance between the two criteria? If you can't even answer those questions, then you need to go back and evaluate your lead profile and test your existing agents to determine who are the stronger candidates.

Then it's a question of knowing your lead sources and what benefits they truly offer you. Where can you get qualified candidates with technical degrees versus those with a greater humanities focus? Which college graduates stand a chance of surviving your rigorous training program compared to others? Again you need to be able to answer questions like this before you can truly proceed and assume that everything is working fine.

Flickr: katherine.a - POSITIONS VACANT : Women and Girls 
POSITIONS VACANT : Women and Girls by Katherine Anderson / katherine.a via Flickr.

Newspapers remain a very strong source of applicants in this country. In that regard we're still highly traditional and most jobseekers resort to the newspapers for learning about opportunities. But your greatest applicant sources aren't always your greatest source of actual hires. In fact, newspapers ads can only help you with large volumes of college fresh grads and maybe out of industry applicant but not necessarily seasoned talent. If you can work with these kinds of applicants, then continue to aggressively place ads in the Sunday papers as much as you can manage. But if you need more experienced recruits, then perhaps you need to rethink if your marketing money should go into newspaper ads. You still need to post ads at least monthly for branding purposes and for that one big ad once a month is a lot stronger than weekly half-page of quarter-page ads that don't yield strong results. 

Job Fairs have similar challenges. Call Center focused job fairs might still work, but yield few numbers especially if you're not one of the major players in the industry. Non-industry job fairs are even worse since that's like placing Sunday ads in the Manila Bulletin all over again. You're just going to get more and more unqualified applicants who will fill up your Recruitment queues without yielding good results.

Flickr: University of Denver - Law Graduates 
Law Graduates - by University of Denver via Flickr.
And what about school partnerships? These results are mixed as well. If you already have a strong telephone screening team who can act as lead generators, then being able to acquire graduate lists may become useful. But you don't necessarily need the fresh grads for the year (unless your agent profile allows for it) - you need the ones who have been out there for a bit longer. Thus strong partnerships with schools can lead to getting continued access to graduate lists perhaps of the past years, which should prove more useful. Combined with social media resources, you'll be able to cross-reference names and schools against their current careers and such. And this gives you the beginnings of your lead pool. 

Your telephone screeners and lead generators need to be skilled researches in this regard. Their comfort with social media and their related functions are essential to cutting through everything and finding new people to interview. This means using all the job sites that work in the region like Jobstreet and JobsDB. These sites offer a lot of diverse segmentation and search options for hiring companies provided you invest in the necessary licenses and such. And these should be the primary resources for your lead generation teams.


Flickr: stevegarfield - Over 580 Million Customers are Using Social Media 
Over 580 Million Customers are Using Social Media by Steve Garfield / stevegarfield via Flickr.

Social Media Marketing is a new resource that still needs a lot of study and work to utilize effectively. But still, a strong presence on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn may be crucial to some of your lead generation efforts. A lot of agent-level positions can be filled by effectively managing your company's Facebook Page while higher positions typically can be sourced through resources like LinkedIn. 

But in addition to searching for leads, you also need to be able to generate interest in your company and get people to manually sign up for your lead database. That can include webinars related to the industry, hosting seminars and talks at local schools and requiring sign-up in order to proceed and of course Facebook activities to get people to Like your company page and sign up for your newsletters and other update sources. 

We live in a tech-savvy age where your job seekers are more likely to ask their peers about job opportunities instead of looking for the data themselves. And if you do not have ways for people to find info about your company and what your work environment is like, then you already have a problem there. 

These are just a few of the ideas that one needs to think about when you realign for your Recruitment team to operate more like a traditional sales team. I haven't even touched on the specific phone skills needed by such recruiters in this line of work. Perhaps I'll revisit this topic in the future. 

So what do you think? What lead sources for better for you in the Philippine job market? Do you think it's worth the effort to shift into this kind of a hiring model?
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  1. It seems that word-of-mouth advertisement is another form of recruitment. Callboys like us usually have contacts with other call centers and they usually inform us if there's a newly-opened account from a center call center.

    Also can I plug my email address here? For those of you interested to join the call center industry, please forward your email address to me so that I could submit it to our Recruitment Officers. I would like to have a taste of that Referral Bonus :) elmerlovesoreo(at)

  2. Haha, well good luck on your referral efforts Elmer ;-)