If there’s one industry in the Philippines that I couldn't thank enough for, that would be no other than the BPO or Business Process Outsourcing Industry, commonly known to Filipinos as Call Center. Through BPO and of course my high school English teachers, I gained full confidence to speak and write the English language. Thanks to the world-class training that they provided me. If not with the Call Center, I would not have endured being on my own at 18 in terms of finances. Yes, they do pay quite competitive in the Philippine standard. And besides, who doesn’t love perks, Sodexo’s, team building, and parties. Well, there’s so much good stuff I can tell you about working in this industry. But, first, how to get hired in the call center or BPO industry? If you’re someone looking for a job in this area, keep reading! I will be sharing my own personal experiences with BPO, which might help you step up in your call center job hunting activities.
Today we are going to discuss this one industry that is very close to me and to a lot of Filipinos out there as well. It is the industry that generated $ 22. 1 billion in revenue to the 2017 Philippine economy and is expected to double its growth up to 2022. What I’m talking about here is the Information Technology – Business Process Outsourcing industry.
For the last decade, the Philippines has been the call center capital in the world. At the moment, BPO employs 1.2 million Filipino employees across the country. Thanks to the quality of the services and the work ethic that Filipino employees are providing.
First off, What is BPO?
Let us put it this way, western countries have been sending information technology positions overseas creating more jobs while leveraging their efficiency and cutting costs. This industry has created a lot of jobs in information technology and call center sectors. Examples of outsourced jobs from this industry are a web-developer, software programmer, IT-Front Desk, Administration or HR jobs, and contact centers. The Philippines is so blessed to have become the world’s largest destination for BPO outsourced positions. This is not a coincidence as the Philippines has always had a close connection to the West. The most leading countries in providing BPO jobs are the United States which contributes to 60% of all the services. The second-largest provider is Australia, followed by the United Kingdom. English speaking clients like those countries I just mentioned prefer to outsource their business services in the Philippines. One of the interesting things the clients look at when choosing a location is the culture. If the BPO destination does not understand the culture of the businesses they will be working with, they will obviously encounter problems along the process. The good news is that the Philippines has built an excellent reputation for understanding western culture particularly, the United States. Besides, according to data, Filipinos have a very high literacy rate of 96.3%. Filipinos have outstanding English proficiency which is a very essential skill for the BPO industry.
Now, let us get into the bottom line! How to get hired in the call center or BPO companies?
- Identify your Location.
Tip: Living in close proximity to the call center company is always a plus point for you when being interviewed by the HR or a manager.
Most BPO companies in the Philippines are congested in the metropolitan areas of the country. A lot of contact centers are found in the business districts of Metro Manila, Pampanga, Cebu, Iloilo, and Davao. Although more and more companies nowadays are exploring other provinces across the Philippines to provide even more jobs for the Filipinos. Location plays a very important role in looking for a job in BPO. The higher the cost of living in a certain location, the higher the salary and benefits are. The cost of living and the salary is always directly proportional. So that means to say that you cannot expect a salary of this much in the province. But there is nothing wrong with choosing to work in the province over the metropolitan area. Let us say if working in the province does not cost you an apartment rent and pay high bills for commuting. Then, you can really save a lot even though you get a provincial rate salary. On the other hand, if you choose to work in the city, you need to take considerations for your housing rental, food, electricity, transportation and more. When deciding to look for a job in the call center, choose the location wisely. Do a little math calculation and choose the one where you can win more time and money than the other.
- Know the LOB (Line of Business) that you are applying for.
Tip: Do intensive research on the nature of the business that you wish to apply for.
Contact centers and BPO companies offer an extensive line of businesses from fashion, food, technology, travel, and admin services. Let me give you an example, you are browsing for a call center job opportunity in your area on the Jobstreet website. And one of the requirements on the job post is having a high-technical and computer knowledge. It is also stated on the job post that you will be catering services to a US-Internet provider company. Let us say, you are interested for the job because of the close proximity from where you live at and the company offers a competitive salary and benefits. My question to you is, what will you do now? Ok, Given that you are computer savvy. You love troubleshooting and stuff like that. Here is what I recommend you to do that might step you forward in your call center application. Do intensive research about US-internet provider companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and more. Go to their websites and check out their products and services. Get familiarized with the computer terminologies as they will most likely test your knowledge about it. How do call centers test your technical knowledge? The test can be done in different ways like verbal one-on-one or phone interviews, written exams, or online tests. An example of a question in a one-on-one interview can be as simple as, How do you resolve a computer black screen issue? You may answer this way. Make sure all the computer cables are properly connected from the computer to the power outlet. Restart the computer. If it is not resolved, reboot the computer to safe mode by restarting the computer while holding F8. There you go, your answer doesn’t really need to be precise but you need to have the basic logic to be able to pass this test. So, the same goes for other LOB’s. Whether it is a travel, gaming, or clothing account, they will test your knowledge about the business. So be prepared ahead and I’m sure you can do it!
- Level up your language proficiency skills.
Tip: Filipinos are known to have outstanding English proficiency skills. “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Luke 12:48
Imagine yourself sitting in a group of 5 people. 4 of them are applicants and you are one of them. The other one is the interviewer and asks you to rate your English proficiency skills from 1 to 10. 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. What would be your answer and why? If you go for an interview and say. Maybe, I will rate myself 5 or 6 out of 10. That doesn’t sound like you really want the job. If your answer is 7, then that is an average and it’s acceptable. But don’t forget to justify your answer. You may add by saying that you need a little room for improvement in your grammar and accent knowledge. The interviewer is at least expecting you to rate yourself between 7 to 9. Remember that the client is looking for someone who is ready to communicate with their English speaking customers and that is you. So now, how do you level up your English proficiency skills? There are countless of ways how to improve your English language skills to the next level. But the one that I am suggesting works better for me and it might be for you too. I believe that the most effective way to learn the language is through listening and speaking with it. If you have a native English speaking friend or relative, use that as an advantage by talking with that person more often. In my case, I didn’t have one 13 years ago. I remember during that time, my English was so broken. It was really bad that I needed to do something to improve it. What I did was I would watch American TV shows and movies as often as I could. And, I tried to copy the actors’ accents by reading the subtitle. If you do this every day for as long as possible, I guarantee you the results are amazing. You will definitely sound more like your customers on the phone. Another trick you can do is to practice tongue twisters. The most popular one is “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” Practice one tongue twisters a day, and it will help your muscles in tongue, jaw, lip, and pharynx relax, making you sound more natural.
- Learn to type at least 50 words per minute.
Tip: Make sure that you can type as many accurate words as possible.
Typing test is one of the most common exams given by most contact centers to their applicants. You may probably think that 50wpm is too much. Yes, it is true! But it is definitely doable if you practice. Working in the BPO requires a lot of multitasking jobs. That includes answering incoming calls, making outbound calls for follow-ups, listening while reading, listening plus typing, and a whole lot more. Learning to type fast and accurate makes you efficient in your job. In addition to that, you can do a lot more tasks and focus on other priorities as well. So now, how do you improve your computer typing skills? What you need is a computer with a QWERTY keyboard. There are tons of free sites online where you can practice your typing skills. You can find them in the description box below. Now for those who do not have internet connectivity at home, don’t worry. Here’s a great solution for you. Open your notepad or word document and practice typing “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. This sentence includes all the letters in the alphabet. Another important tip you can learn is to focus on typing accurately rather than being fast.
- Keep yourself motivated!
Tip: A little progress a day, adds up to a big result. Keep motivated!
While skills are very important in the call center and BPO industry, it is not only the sole requirement to get hired for the job. In fact, most new hirees or employees are hired based on their attitude and not so much about their skills. The BPO industry offers a very lucrative training program from Communication and Language Training, Products and Services Training up to the Leadership Training. Once you are hired, the company will invest time, money, and human resources to prepare you for the position. Having a positive attitude means being open to learning new things and becoming productive. When you have the right attitude, you are confident the moment you step into the interview room. To develop a positive attitude, it takes daily motivation and personal development. If let us say you did not get the job in one company, how do you react to that? With a positive mindset, you are able to handle refusal at all costs. And you know deep inside of you, that the perfect job is just right on the corner. It only takes a matter of time. So be patient and never give up! I can feel exactly how it is to be rejected in a job application. And it is horrible! 13 years ago when I applied to my first call center company, I was blessed to get hired at only 18 years old with no job experience. But I got rejected several times by different LOB’s until this one popular gaming account gave me a big, YES, you are hired! It was my breakthrough at that season! And I could definitely not make it if I was not prepared emotionally. So, my personal advice for you is to get a daily dose of motivation. Because life can really throw anything at you more than you can imagine. If you are well prepared, you will make it.
So these are my thoughts on how I got hired on almost all BPO companies I applied to. I do believe that you can achieve what your heart wishes for. If you are applying for a call center or BPO job because you are attracted to the salary and benefits, as well as the opportunity to get world-class training or let us say, you are the sole provider for your family, God knows what is in your heart. So focus on what you need to achieve, and who you are doing it for. I am so sure, you will get the job!
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