Tag Archives: hiring tests

The eight week career, or Why do so many call center sales people leave so quickly?

This article, by Harry Lakin, was originally published on LinkedIn.

Very, very long story short, I was looking through the applicant/assessment data base for a client of mine as part of a project when I came across a name that I recognized. The name, I believed, belonged to one of my eldest son’s childhood friends. It’s an unusual enough name that I thought I’d do a bit of digging on LinkedIn to see if this young man was actually now working for my client.

As a result of my snooping (bear in mind, I did not actually contact him directly), the young man sent me a connection request via LinkedIn, and we proceeded to have a bit of an email exchange.

Turns out this fellow did not work for my client but the subsequent conversation that came from this trip down memory lane could only be described as “eye opening.”

Seems this fellow had applied with my client to be a “sales manager.” To be honest, the behavioral traits of this young man, as revealed by assessment, were not aligned with those that my client has defined as necessary for success in their sales role and so they’d passed on him.

But what he shared next (unprompted mind you), really blew me away. The names have been changed to protect the innocent but otherwise, the quote is verbatim.

XYZ seemed like a really solid company, but had they chosen to hire me I probably wouldn’t have stayed long because I am itching to get back into the health & wellness industry. I am actually meeting with the Regional Director of ABC Gym for a GM spot. I managed a number of 123 Fitness locations for the 1st 1/2 of my 20’s and have missed the industry ever since I left in 2011.”

Am I living in a parallel universe?

Mind blown…!

Let’s dissect his statement:

1.      This young man was applying for a job he really wasn’t all that interested in because he’d really have preferred something else….in an entirely different industry!

2.      He implies that if he’d have been offered the job he’d have taken it.

3.      Had he hired on, he immediately knew he wasn’t going to be there long.

4.      He had an idea in which direction he actually wanted his career to go and was pursuing that path simultaneously.

Now let’s take a deeper dive:

First off, there is absolutely nothing wrong with candidate’s pursuing multiple opportunities simultaneously. In fact he’d have been remiss not to. And, it’s truly a good thing that he had an idea of the industry and role he really wanted. We should always pursue our passions, particularly when they mesh with our innate traits.

But, that’s the only part of his statement that makes a lick of sense to me and sadly, this young man’s thought process is not unique.

Before, I go any further, let me state for the record, this fellow is a millennial. and if this sounds eerily like what Simon Sinek discusses in his recent and oft shared video about millennials that’s making the rounds, don’t shoot the messenger!

You have people, applying to work at your company today, that are of the same mind set of this young man. Your business (and call centers in particular) is nothing more than a stepping stone along the path to their next job or their “dream” career.

Frank Gump’s excellent article “De-Linking Call Center Performance and Turnover” posits that nobody ever went to work in a call center because it was their lifelong dream to do so.

My client dodged a bullet, as the assessment was the thing that weeded this guy out. That’s not to say however that every assessments catches every “short term” applicant. Some will manage to sneak by.

What would hiring this guy have cost my client? There is a significant hard cost to hiring a candidate, not to mention the soft cost of “opportunity lost.” Further, what does turnover do the “morale” of any business?

So, what’s a well intentioned call center manager or business owner to do?

A. Be honest with yourself. Accept the fact that the job you are trying to fill may be just that, a job…and not a career. Too often, what we believe in our own minds is vastly different than reality. Don’t get lost in the sauce.

B. Do everything you can to maximize employee performance while they are working for you. Knowing they may be with you for only a short while…try to get the most out of them while they’re there. To do this first create a job model of what the ideal candidate looks like within the role – within your business. The emphasis is on YOUR. Don’t hire based upon what you think your competitors are hiring. Be diligent and strict that those you do hire adhere to your job model. This is a must even if the pressure is severe to put butts in seats. Doing otherwise will diminish return.

C. Get creative. Find new ways to engage the best of the best that end up coming to work for you. Think about real career paths and make it known to those you hire that exceptional performance will be rewarded with the opportunity for a career not just a job.

You’re never going to reduce turnover to zero. What you need to do is figure out what is an acceptable number for your industry or company is and then do everything you can to be beat it. Be vigilant about hiring the RIGHT people for your roles and let the chips fall where they may.

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