Applying for a Call Center Job: 7 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Have you recently considered applying for a call center job? Or have pondered whether it’s the right job for you or not? Years ago, I was also in a similar situation as yours. Funny enough, my decision was made in just a couple of minutes after calling my mother during my job offer or contract signing. I was 20 years old back then and was still waiting for college graduation yet I was hungry for a job that would make me feel like Little Miss Independent.

When the call center I applied for called me a few weeks after I was told I was hired, I didn’t quite hear what the HR personnel said. It was too fast. The only thing that registered to me was that I needed to come to their office the next day. So I did and when I arrived, I was presented with a job contract and so many forms.

7 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Although I was already aware that I was hired, I got nervous about the idea of signing a job contract especially when I knew that I’d be relocated to Cebu. I wrote Chapter 1 of My Call Center Story if you’re in for some reading about my application process. 😉  Back in 2009, there weren’t many call centers yet and I didn’t know a lot of people who worked in one so my decision-making process was not really affected by too many factors.

This time, you already have so many resources and I’m adding this one too! So if you are planning to apply for a call center job, I highly suggest you think about it carefully and involve the people in your life who matter. There are so many factors to consider and questions to ask. Here I outlined seven of them.

1. “Is this really what I want to do?”

When I applied for a call center job years ago, I wasn’t sure what the job entailed but I was up for the challenge. As I shared earlier, I wanted to have a job right away… and not only that, I wanted an entry-level job that paid well. I didn’t want the job so badly enough though that I’d do everything to get it but I was okay with it as a starter. So it’s safe to say that yes, I did want to pursue working in a call center.

I know it may sound ideal but it’s very important to think about what you want for yourself. If you know that you want to do something, or are at least okay with working in a call center, then there’s one less thing to think about. Apparently, it’s easier to go to work if you like and love what you are doing.

Now you may say:

This is not what I want to do but I need to do it because I need to help with my family’s finances or I really need to earn money. 

Well my friend, that’s what we call the act of sacrifice – it’s when you are willing to give up something important to you in order to help other people like your family. And this brings you to the next question to ask yourself.

2. “Am I willing to sacrifice?”

As with any other job, there are some sacrifices. But with a call center job, you have to understand that most likely, you will not be working regular office hours. I mean the usual 8-5 office job. Because of the business process outsourcing (BPO) nature of call centers, your clients will largely be at the other side of the world such as the United States and Canada.

What does this mean to you?

You will work at night and on shifting schedules. Your company or account (client) will determine what time you will work. Most of the time, you cannot choose because there are certain time slots when calls are usually received and those slots need to be filled. When you’re a regular employee, there’s a good chance you can choose or swap your schedule but when you’re still a trainee, you gotta be flexible.

But you do get night differential and hazard pay depending on your schedule at night. In simple terms, it’s extra money!

Holidays? What holidays? Yup, expect to work during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. And nope, you can’t go on a date night on Valentine’s if your work schedule is at night. The good thing about this is that you get double-pay if it’s a national holiday and 30% on top of your basic pay if it’s a special non-working holiday.

3. “Am I ready?”

Well, I always say that “people can never be truly prepared for everything” but it’s always best to think of what could go wrong. I first heard about Murphy’s Law back in my Crisis Communication class and even though I’m a positive-thinker, I always consider my dear old friend Edward Murphy. There are many variations of the statement.

If something can go wrong, it will.  Or “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

Be prepared for physical, mental, and emotional adjustments in your lifestyle. Your sleep and eat schedule will change, and you will probably be more tired if you are not a day sleeper. You need funds to finance your requirements, transportation, and daily allowance while you’re waiting for your first pay.

Also, you will undergo a training period. It’s like going to back to school but this time, it’s your job that’s at stake. This also means that you will probably have less or no time to hang out with your barkada because you need to sleep during the day so that you can function well the entire night. It’s not to say that you can’t hang out with your family and friends anymore but you have to understand that sometimes your social life will take a backseat while you are adjusting to your lifestyle.

Another thing: If you are still a student, are you willing to sacrifice your studies for work? If you plan to study while working, will your schedule allow you?

Important question

4. “What about my family?”

You are important, but your family is also a crucial part of your decision-making process. Even though the decision will ultimately be yours, there will also be times when you need to compromise. Will your current family situation allow you to work in a call center? By this I mean to ask, is it practical for you to work at night? If you have young kids, will there be people who can take care of them while you’re away at night?

Those things are very important. It’s difficult to work when you are always worried about the current situation of your family. You likely won’t be able to concentrate and will do more harm than good.

In my case, I was confused whether I’d sign the job contract or not so I told the HR personnel that I needed to call my mother first. I spoke to my mother over the phone and told her that I was already in the middle of a job contract signing. I asked her if I should accept it or not, and without a doubt, she said yes. That was actually what I needed even though I wasn’t too sure of myself. Knowing that my family would be fine even if I work away from home was a good enough assurance that I could perform my job well.

5. “How’s my health?”

Working in a call center means you have to be physically and mentally fit. Although you are required to undergo a medical checkup before you start the job, it’s essential that you know your health limits. Remember that you will work on shifting schedules and at night. You need stability and endurance to last without sleeping on duty (hint: sleeping on duty is a major offense).

In most cases, that’s full 8 to 9 hours of work not including the time you prep for work and commute or drive. In reality, most of us do not bother checking with a doctor. I guess that’s just how Filipinos are wired. If we don’t feel anything bad, we never go to the doctor. Even if we do and we can still tolerate the pain, we just dismiss the feeling.

If you have a history of an illness that you think will prohibit you from working in a call center situation, it’s best to take that into account. Your health is your investment so it’s best to consult the experts.

6. “Am I willing to commit?”

That day in 2009 when I finally signed my job contract, I found out that there was a training bond. Because I was a relocator from Davao (where I went for college), the company would pay for my airfare, 3 days and 2 nights accommodation at Golden Peak Hotel, plus Php 20,000 relocation allowance. The first half would be paid via check once I’d arrive, while the other half would be via payroll. I was good to go.

In return, I was asked to stay with the company for at least 5 months. I thought about it and it felt like five months would stretch forever. I was used to being away from home but then GenSan was just 3 hours away from Davao. The HR personnel, as if reading my mind, said “5 months is just very fast” and he was right because I never noticed how time passed. Before I knew it, 5 months became 5 years + 2 more.

7. “How will I survive?”

When I became a trainer, I’ve met so many people from different walks of life, and that was when I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned a great deal about different personalities, lifestyles, backgrounds, and most importantly, I’ve learned so much about myself. You never really know how people struggle unless you talk with them.

You ask yourself: How will I survive? Or will I even get accepted? Sometimes there’s just no answer to a question. Sometimes, you just go for it, work hard, and hope for the best. There’s a reason these 7 questions I posed are called “questions”. You probably won’t know the answers to some of them until you’re already in the battle field that is the call center. But over the next few weeks and months, I’m going to answer these questions based on my experiences.

So for you, the key is your willingness to keep going and looking at the bright side of things. You’ll realize that everything’s gonna be okay. 😉

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