Customer Service Career Development
Read this article for information on employment resources, the benefits of internships, and tips to find a position in customer service. Also, explore the links to resources embedded in this text.
There is no shortage of avenues to find and apply for job postings. The challenge is rising above the competition: the flood of applications and resumes from dozens or even hundreds of others who aspire for the same position. This is especially true of job openings posted in local media. Of course, the more specialized and developed the skills you have to offer, then the better chance you have of standing out in the stack.
Another tactic is to sidestep the typical employment process and connect directly with the decision makers who might help you navigate the help-wanted labyrinth, or—given the right set of circumstances—even create a position to match your specialized abilities.
First, you might want to do a scan of the sorts of companies and positions seeking employees with your background and skillset. Here are a few sample employment boards to investigate:
Spend an hour or so visiting these pages, perform a search for customer service positions, and get an idea of the sorts of positions available. What companies are hiring? What skills are they looking for? And, where are these jobs located? You might even post your resume and apply for positions, but try not to get overwhelmed or discouraged by the process.
Another tactic is to develop a relationship with a manager, vice president, or other well-placed contact in a desired company or organization. Research everything you can: what is the company’s history? Where did your contact go to school, what has he/she written, and what projects has he/she tackled? Send your contact a message expressing interest in his or her works, ask questions about his or her success, and request advice. You are not looking for a job at this point, but you are looking to build a relationship. It is even better if the company has no job openings, because you are not competing against anyone. When an opening comes along, you may have established a relationship with a key contact, and he or she might be more inclined to consider you for a position.
An important item to keep in mind about employers and hiring is they are likely to be as apprehensive about the selection process as you are. They are putting themselves on the line with their hiring decision, especially for a position as out-front as a customer service representative. They are inviting a stranger into their home, and that is just plain scary. It is much easier to hire people than it is to get rid of them. Appreciate their challenges, and try to shine as you attempt to assuage their concerns with reasons why you are the perfect fit (if indeed you are).
Internships are a valuable career-development tool. They allow you to learn and implement key skills, to demonstrate your abilities in a low-stake position while making useful connections, and to determine if this type of work is a good fit for your career. There are many examples of well-known and successful former interns, including Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey.
Most job boards will allow you to search for internship positions, and many company websites will announce internship opportunities. You can also offer yourself as an intern directly to a key contact within an organization. There are some websites, such as InternshipPrograms.com, that specialize in connecting applicants with internship openings. On the website below, spend an hour researching internship opportunities by field (e.g. marketing), employer, and location.
As you arrange your internship position, there are a number of useful tips to consider:
- Negotiate a good title for your resume: For example, rather than intern, try customer service program coordinator, technical support developer, etc.
- Investigate if the field is a good career fit: Check the company out, while the company is considering you. Is this the work to which you want to dedicate your life?
- Develop industry and company connections: The most valuable payoff is the people you meet, the references you gain, and the leads you generate.
- Be low maintenance, observe, and contribute: Some managers may be skeptical of taking on interns; interns sometimes create more work than managers believe they are worth. Do not be that intern.
- Treat it as a real job: Always give your best; you never know who is watching.
- Volunteer for a non-profit: It can be more-interesting work, offer a greater diversity of assignments, and have less pressure to generate revenues.
All the above suggestions and resources apply to a career in the global marketplace as well, especially if you can bring multilingual and cross-cultural skills to the table. Beyond the regular abilities required for a position in any field, you may be able to expand your resume offerings in critical ways: do you speak a second or third language? Do you have overseas experience? Do you have an especially suitable background (e.g.
language skills plus specialized technical training)? Have you worked with international multicultural customers and employees?
The database below provides contact information for a number of international organizations, as well as links to their about and employment pages. This resource is especially useful for those who hope to apply their communication and technical skills to government work, social marketing, and development programs. Please spend an hour scanning through the database entries on each organization, its mission, and its geographical range of activity.
- There are many employment boards (e.g. Careerbuilder.com, Monster.com, and Indeed.com) that list job openings and allow resume postings; try not to get overwhelmed and discouraged by the process.
- It is possible to find job openings by connecting directly with key managers and decision-makers within a chosen organization.
- Employers are also apprehensive about the hiring process; strive to become a perfect fit for their needs.
- Internships are a useful opportunity to develop your skills, demonstrate your abilities, develop key contacts, and try out a field to see if it fits.
- International careers can be exciting and fulfilling. To appeal to international employers, develop valuable skills such as foreign language proficiency, cross-cultural abilities, on-site country experience, and project management.
Source: Steven R. Van Hook and Saylor Academy
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.