Blog Post #22 – The Talent Gap Question Comes up Again

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/35729/9-out-of-10-applicants-fail-to-snag-bpo-job—industry-group

“MANILA – Only one out of every 10 people applying for a job with a business process outsourcing company makes the grade – a situation that, if left unchecked, would result in a shortfall of qualified workers in the next five years, according to the local industry.

“While many Filipinos apply for work in IT-BPO companies, at present the hiring rate is just five percent to 10 percent. Most applicants do not make the cut because they lack the necessary qualifications, skills, and professional expertise,” Benedict Hernandez, president of Business Process Association of the Philippines, said in a statement.

To achieve its $25 billion revenue target by 2016, the industry must address the looming labor shortfall between now and 2016, he said.”

From my perspective there are a number of reasons the % of “hire able” candidates is so low.

I agree with a lot of the observations about both speaking English correctly and with confidence. I see a lot of fresh grads in my business and a huge % of them do not feel comfortable expressing themselves in English. And even ones that are pretty good often lock-up during an interview. Another big challenge is that most college grads have never been in a call center so it’s hard to conceptualize what working in one might be like. I recently trained a batch of 22 fresh grads from schools like PUP and Adamson… and not one of them had ever been in a call center or really new much of what they are like.

So it’s not just confidence, but lack of preparation. And the other big issue of course is that a lot of college grads are coming out of school with degrees that have little training in technology and no understanding of a business environment.

On the other hand I also agree with some of the comments that the assessment and screening process is not as effective as it could be. A huge % of candidates never make it past the initial screen because they don’t have a 4 year degree or do not have any relevant work experience so even with good English, confidence and technical skills they never make it to the interview stage. I’ve seen a couple of amazingly talented and articulate candidates who have been passed over dozens of times because they do not have a 4 year degree and its disheartening to think that now they have such a negative experience when it comes to the BPO industry.

Training programs like BPO Elite’s in one answer as we identify, recruit, train and help place fresh grads with the talent and aptitude to be analysts in the BPO industry.

We have a long way to go to turn that statistic around, but I for one am convinced we can do it!

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BPO Elite – Blog Post #21 – An Introduction to Analytics

An Introduction to Analytics Training Seminars

In the past couple of weeks I taught a couple of two day training seminars with an audience of fresh graduates. Most of them have IT or Computer Science backgrounds and are looking to embark on careers without much of an idea where to get started.

My team and I screen and interview the trainees to assess their technical background, any relevant work or on-the-job training experience, English proficiency and communication skills. If candidates pass the screening and the interview, than we invite them to attend the training seminar. We have pretty high standards and only invite those who we feel have the potential to have long and successful analyst careers.

During the training, I share a lot of my experience, based on my 15 years with Wells Fargo. During my career with the bank, I learned a lot about what it takes to be a good analyst. I also have a Master’s in Education and spent five years teaching and being an administrator in higher education. This fairly unique combination of corporate experience and educational focus have giving me the opportunity to teach analytics seminars.

The two day classes are designed to provide an introduction to the key concepts of analytics and include several exercises and hands on trainings. The classes are a lot of fun, but also full of information and new perspectives. Most of the trainees know little about analytics or what an analyst career might look like, but after spending two days with me, they all have a new direction and new found confidence in what they can accomplish.

After the training we again meet with each trainee to help them determine what kind of analyst they want to be. We look at the various paths someone with analytics skills can take and we also update their resumes and online profiles to make them more likely to standout.

In my 20+ years of professional experience, teaching analytics to fresh grads has been one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever known. For a social yet nerdy person like me, analytics is a whole lot of fun and being an analyst is one of the coolest jobs around. Now I can help younger versions of me find the same satisfaction as they embark on their professional journey.

BPO Elite Blog Post #20 – Nothing in life worth having is free

The title of this blog post is a common paraphrase of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt. TR once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” I start with this quote because of some recent conversations I’ve had.
As most of you know, BPO Elite offers an analytics training seminar to fresh (or recent) college graduates. In the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing close to 100 recent college graduates who have expressed interest in attending the Introduction to Analytics seminar. Most of them are pretty excited about the training, but in many cases they choose not to attend for two reasons very much a concern for most college grads; (1) how much does it cost? and (2) will it guarantee me a job? In many cases there is also another important consideration… (3) will my parents let me go to this?
So to help those of you who are considering the class, let’s look at each concern. We will start with how much does it cost. The first batch we charged PHP 200 but did not include lunch for the second batch we tired PHP 500 inclusive of lunch. The idea is to determine which offer is more attractive to our target audience. In either price all materials and snacks are included and the fee barely covers the cost of renting the facility. So for two days of training from an expert in the field of analytics, the either price seemed like a bargain when you compare that to the price of most professional training programs out there. There is cost associated with everything. And like President Roosevelt alluded too… to get something of value you have to pay for it. However, to a fresh grad, still looking for their first job, even PHP 200 might seem like a lot.
The second concern is that if they take the two days to attend the training and they pay the fee, will it guarantee them a job. Now, conventional wisdom says that no training will ever guarantee you of anything. Training can add value to what you already know, it can help you find new ways of doing things and it can open up new possibilities, but it can’t take an unemployed person and then automatically employee them. We all know that, but we don’t want to believe it. There are a lot of recruiters, trainers and other people out there who promise that they can find people jobs, but it’s because they are in it to make money on filling job slots. The only promise I am willing to make is that you will learn a lot about analytics and what a career as an analyst can look like. We can help in the job search and we can help you strengthen you resume and your online profiles, but in the end it’s you who will or will not get that job worth having. So in undergoing this seminar with BPO Elite, a fresh grad needs to decide if this training will put them in a better position to get the job they want. Again let’s think of TR’s quote… if its worth doing, its not going to be easy. Being an analyst is a hard, but satisfying career choice and its one that takes patience and planning.
And finally we have the influence of the parents to consider. In a lot of cases I have recent graduates tell me that they want to come, but they need to discuss it with their parents. To me, this is both a good thing as well as an additional challenge. I like to hear when parents are involved with decision making. It almost always means that the decision to attend the class will hinge on value. Will the cost of the training be worth it? Will the training help my child find a job? As I’ve outlined above, these are very good questions.
But here comes the challenge… how does a fresh grad who just spent 15-20 minutes being interviewed to be part of a training class go home and explain to their parents what they BPO Elite is all about, why analytics is important and why going to our training is the best things they can do to help them find not just a job, but start a career? For those fresh grads in the audience, this topic will carry over into my next blog post. It will be entitled something along the lines of how to engage your parents in the conversation to help them decide to let you attend the training.

BPO Elite Blog Post #19 – My Elevator Sales Pitch on Analytics

So when I first started pitching the Introduction to Analytics seminar to prospective training candidates, I need to come up with a good analogy about what analytics is and what an analyst does. At the time I was doing most of these informational interviews at various Starbucks across Manila. So I started using this analogy.

Pretend for a minute that you are an analyst working for Starbucks. You work in he corporate office with a team of analysts. One day your manager comes to you and tells you they have a special project they need done right away. They need to know the Top 10 Starbucks locations in all of Metro Manila. So there are hundreds of Starbucks out there so the first thing to do is find a list of them. Then you need to find there sales data. You dump that into excel and you sort it by sales and you find the top ten stores. Pretty easy.

But what happens next is where a good analysts comes in. Your boss is going to want to know why they are top ten even if they didn’t ask for it. So you need to determine what these stores have in common. What is their secret to success? So you need more data. You go out and find the location, the size, how old the store is and any other datapoints you think might be relevant. You pull all that data into your analysis. And the you look for patterns. What do they have in common? Are there things they have that a lot of others do not.

Say for this exmaple you find that all ten of them are located on the ground floor of near the entrance a big mall. That makes sense… its a high traffic area and people have spending money on their mind.

So know when you report your findings to your manager you can give them the list and some some analysis to go with it, That is what a good analyst does… adds value to a business by providing management through there analysis that leads to data-driven decision making.

So that has becom my elevator sales pitch on analytics and what an analysts does.