How to attract young talent to business process outsourcing

With a strong employer brand and a mobile-friendly applicant experience you can still attract quality hires


Like it or not, the image that most people have of business process outsourcing (BPO) jobs is pretty grim: They imagine dingy call centers where workers take on undesirable shifts for poor wages and they look at the high attrition rates within the industry as proof. Unsurprisingly, this has a tendency to make life difficult for recruiters – especially those who are using traditional methods like job boards and recruiting agencies in order to find qualified talent. Often, you have to settle for whatever talent you can find and the self-fulfilling prophecy of low-quality hires and high turnover rates continues anew.

Thankfully, it does not have to be this way. New strategies and resources are being made available to recruiters every day that can help them to tackle this uniquely thorny problem. Things like recruitment marketing and recruitment marketing automation can be critical when it comes to breaking through people's assumptions and getting young, interested candidates on board.

Meet talent where they are

In the world of BPO, the issue with traditional recruitment methods like posting on job boards is that your top candidates simply cannot be reached on sites like Craigslist and Indeed. Broadly speaking, only about 20% of the talent pool is actively job hunting at any given time, which means that you are cutting yourself off from the other 80% of potential candidates. Because new recruits for BPO tend to skew younger, that ratio might be even slightly more lopsided. Instead of targeting the 20% of applicants who can be reached on traditional platforms, you need to reach younger applicants where they already are: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other social media and networking sites across the web.

Sure, many of the candidates you reach there will not be interested in sending in an application right away but if they continue to encounter your employer brand during their daily web browsing and smartphone usage, they will begin to internalize your message. Eventually, many of them will think of your company when the time comes to apply for a job – and those who apply out of genuine interest will move through your hiring process more quickly and will perhaps even present a lower turnover risk. Why? Because they will have come to you based on genuine interest in your company and the opportunities you are offering.

Crafting your BPO employer brand

Let's back up a step. We talked a little above about employer branding – but what defines a strong employer brand in the BPO industry? Because of the industry's perception, a strong employer brand needs to do two things: First, you have to work to dispel the myth that BPO jobs are low-paying, inflexible dead ends that do not offer any possibilities for career growth. Then you need to position your company in particular as a desirable employment destination within the industry as a whole. This may take a lot of time and resources but it is the clear path forward for addressing any staffing woes.

Luckily, when it comes to changing perception, there is a number of strategic approaches you can take. It is true that most BPO outfits are operating 24/7, which means some inevitable inconvenient shifts, but if you highlight some of the other industries in which that is the case (transit, health care, etc.) it might begin to seem like less of a stigma. Likewise, if you show a clear path for potential applicants to grow their careers right off the bat, they will be much less likely to view your organization as only offering dead-end jobs. If there are any recent personnel success stories within your organization – say, someone who started out working the graveyard shift in a call center has just moved up to a more attractive and lucrative management position – your best bet is to create content that highlights this individual. Show your team member discussing his or her achievement and give some context as how their goals and the goals of the company came to align. This will help gain the attention of ambitious, high-achieving candidates who might otherwise have written off the entire industry.

Naturally, much of the work you do to position BPO jobs as being desirable will dovetail with your attempts to carve out a specific employer brand for yourself. But you should still take care to consider all of the ways – both monetary and otherwise – that your company provides value to your employees. This is referred to as your employee value proposition and it can help you to direct your employer branding efforts in the right direction. If you are offering a comparatively high degree of flexibility relative to the industry as a whole, this is a source of value; you might create content that showcases employee testimonials centered around that fact. If you are offering a lot of advancement opportunities, you could do the same.

The power of applicant experience

Once you have a handle on your employer brand, the best thing you can do to attract and engage young talent is to pay close attention to the candidate experience that you provide. Especially in an industry that doesn not have a reputation for valuing its people, you can make a strong impression on your potential applicants by demonstrating clearly and definitively that you take their time and efforts seriously. Ditch the long, laborious application processes that are still shockingly commonplace in modern hiring. If, instead of asking applicants to spend an hour rehashing their resume in a clunky, mobile-unfriendly user interface, you offer them an easy way to apply with just a few clicks from their mobile phones, they will thank you by not dropping out of your application process prematurely.

By the same token, it pays to be responsive in your communications with people after they have applied (and especially after they have interviewed). If you are transparent and polite, you can prove to applicants that you value their time – which will help them to overcome any lingering mental hurdles about taking a job with your company. Even unsuccessful applicants might have some influence on your future talent pool, depending on whether their experience with your company was a pleasant one. Not every applicant tracking system or piece of HR technology makes it easy to do this kind of thing but when it comes to BPO recruitment, your ability to offer a high-quality candidate experience can help bolster your employer brand even further.

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