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Ask Aerotek: New Careers and Opportunities in Customer Service

Ready to take the first step in a new career? You’re not alone.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average American changes jobs 12 times in their career.

No matter why you might be pursuing new opportunities, making the first move can seem daunting. Questions arise. What’s the best way to gain experience in a new field? Where are the job openings? How do I set myself up to succeed?

Aerotek hiring experts answer these questions all the time. We asked Kaitlin Morkel, a senior professional account recruiting manager with extensive experience placing customer service representatives, for her advice.

Is customer service a good pathway to a new career?

“Absolutely. A lot of companies hire internally from their customer service team first. That's kind of like their pool for talent.”

“Often, companies like it when new employees have spent six to nine months in the call center learning the business. That's how their employees get a from-the-ground-up version of what the company does, by talking to all the customers and clients and learning the intricacies of how the business operates.”

“That’s when I see a lot of opportunities to apply and be promoted out of the call center. You might not want to be in a call center for the rest of your career. That's okay!”

What if you feel at home in a call center; are there opportunities for growth in customer service?

“Definitely. It’s worth asking in the interview, ‘What are the career opportunities here?’ Once you're on the job, it’s best to ask and take initiative each day.”

“A lot of the time in customer service, you act as a lead before you're actually promoted into a formal lead position. If you're acting that part and asking your manager how to continue to grow and develop the rest of the team, it becomes very likely that you’ll be selected as a lead representative.”

What previous experiences end up helping people succeed as customer service representatives?

“The industries I place contractors into pull a lot from the service industry. We see a lot of success with servers, bartenders, hosts and banking associates, for example. Really, anybody who has experience dealing with the general public in any role where the service you provide must be memorable, professional and leave a favorable impression of the establishment you work for.”

If you don’t have customer service representative experience, what aspects of your job history should you highlight in a resume?

“Anything related to customer experience is a huge plus. Make sure to go through your history and emphasize any contact with customers. Also, use the ‘objective’ portion of your resume to mention skills you have that relate to the customer service field, and tell why you're passionate about customer service.”

“I think within the customer service field, being able to talk about why you like working with people and why you like helping people and solving problems goes a long way. Anywhere you can highlight that in your job history, it’s great. My rule of thumb is to only go back ten years on a resume. If anyone has experience prior to that, I leave it up to them to talk about it in an interview.”

During the application process, what key skills will set you apart from other customer service candidates?

“Overall communication skills are vital for customer service. You really need to present yourself as a professional, upbeat, personable individual who goes above and beyond to provide the best possible service.”

“Problem solving — thinking outside the box to achieve a desired result — is also a big thing to emphasize. But great customer service boils down to empathy. If you can put yourself in the customer's shoes, that’s what employers want, first and foremost.”

What are some key industries and hiring cycles in customer service that people should keep in mind?

“Third and fourth quarters, April through September, are important in health care. We see a lot of companies hiring more around the holidays, as well, especially in retail. That spikes with Christmas: gifts, catalog and online ordering. Financial services is also big in the second and third quarters, so January through June.”

Learn more

Want to know more about customer service before making the leap? Check out some of our past blogs on customer service: “Customer Service Representatives — People-Persons for a Living,” and “Customer Service Representatives – Outbound or Inbound? Sales vs. Customer Service.”

Get help

If you’re a people person who’s considering a leap to a new career, a customer service representative position might be an ideal fit. Aerotek experts like Kaitlin Morkel can work with you to prepare a job search strategy based on your specific job history. Just reach out.

Talk with an Aerotek recruiter. And if you’re looking for a job, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. Create a free career account today to customize your search.