Call center work is something that can be a good choice for those in re-entry, since many companies tend to be open to hiring formerly incarcerated individuals for this type of job and many people have already had experience in call centers in a prison or jail setting.
The field also provides a growing number of opportunities, as more and more companies relocate their call centers to the U.S. After years of complaints from unhappy customers who were unable to understand the English of the service reps in call centers located in India and elsewhere, many corporations have decided to invest their resources in creating opportunities here at home.
And many of these companies are offering work-at-home opportunities to some or all of their call center reps. The Work at Home Resource Guide offers an extensive directory of companies that hire employees for call center jobs. It includes the type of rates each one pays, which states they operate in, what type of training they provide, and if there’s a charge for anything.
Another even more extensive list that includes only work-at-home call center jobs but with fewer details, can be found on the Work at Home Moms section of about.com.
Call center jobs vary
Whether on-site or work at home, call center jobs vary in terms of the type of work required. They can be reservation agents for airlines and hotels, order takers, customer service reps, survey conductors, those doing tech support or sales associates selling products or services.
Among necessary skills that call center employees must have are to be detail-oriented, proficient in basic math and writing, sound professional on the telephone, and be able to type and have a basic knowledge of word processing.
Beware of scams
Work-at-home call center employment is ripe for scandal, so be wary. The companies included in the directory mentioned above are legitimate, but do your homework. Any company that requires a registration fee or asks for money for training may be a scam. Some ask applicants to pay for background checks, but only after they have a job offer.
Things to consider
If you’re considering this type of work, there are a few things to consider:
- Pay varies widely and can be by the hour, minute or call made and in some cases may include a commission or incentive.
- Bilingual call center agents tend to be paid more. Spanish speakers are especially in high demand, but those who speak languages like French and Chinese are also sought after.
- There should be no charge for registration or training, but you may not get paid – or paid less than when you begin working – during that period.
- If you work at home, you’ll need, at the very least, a computer, phone and internet connection.
- You may be a full-time employee with some or full benefits, or a contractor who works for an outside agency or is self-employed.
- Some call centers will only hire work-at-home representatives in certain states – or within a certain number of miles from their hiring location.
Like all jobs, call center work requires professionalism, a positive attitude and an ability to get along with people, especially on the phone. It’s just one possibility, but one that those with a record might want to seriously consider. A good telephone presence and telephone selling skills are very desirable to many employers and can lead to other job opportunities in the future.