For two years now, I've been sharing call center job hunting tips to my readers. And while I'm happy that most of them landed their jobs, I also wish that someday, they would leave the industry for good. If you're a call center agent, here's how to quit your call center job ASAP.
It was November 4, 2012. I was sitting in a recruitment lobby. Anxiously waiting for 30 minutes, I finally saw the job interviewer emerged with an envelope in hand. Smiling, she walked towards me and delivered the news, "Congratulations, you're hired!"
That was the happiest day of my life. After all, it was the only high-paying job that a TESDA graduate like me could possibly hold without working abroad or dealing drugs.
Besides, I was in no position to choose. A year before that lucky day, I was earning 245 pesos a day as a service crew for a Chinese employer who, at her best, charged me for missing grains of sugar and at her worst, berates me for unmet quotas.
Needless to say, the call center job was a blessing.
Fast-forward 5 years, although I eventually decided to quit, I still considered the job a blessing. It polished my English, put food on the table, and filled my belly. It demanded, but at the same time, provided.
So why am I urging you to quit your call center job?
Before reading on, know that I did not write this article for the purpose of looking down on call center agents. God knows how much brain, guts, and emotion the job demands.
I wrote this article simply to state facts. Like anything in the world, working in the call center has its pros and cons. This article will mostly focus on the cons but will offer suggestions should you decide to leave for good.
Why you should quit your call center job
It's physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting.
You tell yourself you'll get used to it but no, you never really do. Especially with the mental and emotional part.
Three years in and you still nag about the queuing, the night shift, the shifting schedules, and the irate customers. Why? Is it because you're just a natural complainer? I don't think so.
If you've worked on a never-ending queue before, with your customers yelling, "Get me the supervisor!", and your TL shouting, "AHT!", in the background, then you know that the workload is simply overwhelmingly too much.
If you think this is something that your 50-year-old self could handle, then you're kidding yourself.
After a while, you feel bored and stagnant.
It's true. As a call center agent, you learn things beyond speaking in English and sounding perky. You learn to negotiate and assert when needed. You learn to sell and entice customers to part with their money.
At first, it's exciting.
But when you do the exact same thing over and over again for a really long time, it starts to feel monotonous. You start feeling bored and stagnant. You fall into this pattern of rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, and any sense of fulfillment you might have had, dwindles.
"But who needs 'sense of fulfillment' when I've got bills to pay?", you ask.
The situation is different from person to person so I can't speak for you. All I know is if you hate the path you're in right now, there's almost always a way to switch. But be warned; it will be hard.
AI will probably soon take over anyway.
There's a lot of debates about whether AI will replace call centers. Being the Murphy's law advocate that I am, I always say, "what's the harm in preparation?" Especially after seeing how far AI has come so far. Watch.
The thing about AI is it's constantly learning and evolving at an exponential rate. Therefore, count on it to get better and better each day.
Besides, if AI can call now eerily sound like humans, will customers even know the difference?
Will they still demand to talk a human being when they think they're already talking to one? And highly efficient too—doesn't hold the line for 5 minutes to "check the account".
Although let's look on the bright side for a moment and let's assume that, AI, for now, will only be able to do menial tasks like booking an appointment—none of those empathy statements that we humans pride ourselves on.
Then the question becomes: How many agents will lose their jobs?
Will AI deem call centers obsolete? It's too early to say. What's clear is that AI will impact the call center industry. How strongly though is still a question. In the meantime, what are you gonna do about it? Will you wait or will you wait and prepare?
How to quit your call center job
So you wanna quit your call center job. Now what? Should you hand in your resignation letter and bid your TL goodbye? Well, if you're broke, obviously not.
Below is an action plan you can start doing now to actually have a shot of someday quitting your job.
1. Go easy on your spending then save.
Meh. Boring! Who doesn't know that already, right?
But are you doing it? Probably not.
When all you see are your workmates sporting their new pair of Nike and the latest iPhone model, saving money becomes this uphill struggle.
But instead of seeing the glamour, imagine your future.
The future where you're 30 years older and still working for the same job. Is it a future that you're okay with? If so, then you're in the right place. Don't change a thing.
If not, then you really should do something about that.
2. Learn a new set of skills then look for the career that fits.
There are three reasons to learn a new skill:
- Money: You wanna switch into a higher paying career. You don't care if the career will excite or bore you.
- Interest in the craft: You wanna learn the skill for the fun of it but you're not necessarily after the money. A hobby.
- Money with (or a little bit of) interest: You realize your interest can't always feed you and money can't always make you happy. So you choose a career that not only makes money but that you're also interested in. This is the route I recommend.
For me, it has always been writing. It allows me to express things that I can't fully express in a face-to-face conversation. I love to gather my thoughts then organize them whole through writing.
But how exactly did I make money from it?
After all, I'm no JK Rowling. And I was not planning to write a novel, either. I just wanted to write non-fiction, technical topics which I think are useful to other people. Like, call center job hunting tips.
Lucky for me, I discovered blogging. Here's what I love about it:
- I have no boss nor customers watching behind my back.
- With the internet, I can work anywhere.
- The variety and challenge are, sure enough, present. It also involves analytical thinking which, for me, is a must.
- I can spend as much time on a project without anyone bothering me about AHT.
- It gives me the luxury to engage in a craft, instead of mass production. One of the reasons I quit call center is the stats. Here I am, talking to upset customers. And I'm trying to decide—should I stay longer on the line to make them feel heard but risk losing my bonus, or should I hang up now, let them fume alone, but secure my bonus? With blogging, I can focus on quality over quantity.
- I love doing it so I don't procrastinate as much.
- The income growth is NOT linear like a salary. Instead, it's exponential and passive.
Exponential because the articles I've written years ago are still making me money in the present. I then use that money to create more blogs and earn more. The more sites I create, the more my earnings increase.
Passive because if I choose not to work for weeks, I would still earn every single day. It's literally automated.
In short, what I love about it is the freedom, flexibility, and compounding income.
What about you?
Which skills do you wanna learn? What work catches your focus for hours without you even realizing it? Chances are, those are tasks that you'll likely enjoy working for every day.
"But wait! What if I can't think of anything? What if all I love doing is to shop, play video games, and binge on Netflix? Does that count?," you ask.
Then, in that case, look for a job that at least meets your ideal job criteria.
Set ideal job criteria
If you aren't sure what field and skills interests you, then at least set your own criteria of what makes a job ideal. This, at least, won't make you hate your job as much. Definitely better than toiling for a job you don't like one bit.
For example, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want a job that requires you to work alone or to collaborate with a team?
- Which tasks do you prefer, analytical or mechanical? Mechanical tasks mainly use the hands to craft. Example: cooking, gardening, and painting.
Analytical tasks, on the other hand, involves planning, management, and data analysis. Example: computer programming, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media management.
- Perhaps you want a job that you can do anywhere through your laptop. Then research about all online jobs and skills you can make money from. From writing, graphics and web designing, SEO, computer programming, transcribing, virtual assistant, etc. Pick one field then specialize in it.
The thing about these skills is they're challenging to learn at first but once you do, they pay well, and I mean higher than a call center salary.
If you're interested enough to do your research, there are tons of online courses for each of them. If you don't wanna pay for a course just yet, search for free tutorials in Google and YouTube to get a feel of each of them.
The necessary ingredient
I find that with whatever job or business you're starting, it's essential that you involve the internet in it. It's how you find the clients who will pay for your services or customers who will buy your products.
Instead of reaching out to people locally, you can reach globally.
Internet can even help with brick and mortar businesses like food and clothing stores.
I know a friend who built a small business selling her salad to call center agents via Facebook. Another friend promotes her organic soapmaking class through FB live videos.
Whatever you're planning, make sure you're getting exposure from the internet. That's where everybody is!
It helps if your income is passive
Passive income means you're earning money even if you're not working. You can achieve this through blogging/ vlogging but you can also do this through conventional businesses like Pisonet and boarding house.
They require initial hard work but once complete, you can expect to reap continuous benefits with little maintenance and no hourly clock-in like a regular job would.
Of course, if you're not building a business but working for a job, that's okay too. You don't have to build a passive income to get out of your call center job. But it's certainly a plus.
3. Then look for a non-voice or a less stressful account.
Once you start earning a bit from your business or new skills, you can do the following:
- Quit your voice account and apply for a non-voice account.
- Work for companies that accept part-timers so you don't have to work for 8 hours.
- Lastly, and if applicable, relocate to a city (or province) with a low living cost. For example, you'd be amazed how cheaper Davao City is compared to Manila and Cebu. Especially the fresh produce and rent.
Doing one of these will free up your time which you can use to grow your business or immerse in your new career.
4. Develop good habits.
While goals are important, it's habit that makes goals possible. Those little decisions that you act out on every day are what lead you to where you are right now.
Therefore, developing good habits is crucial for a better life.
Reading, for example, tops the list. Whatever it is that you're trying to improve upon (money, professional skills, productivity, confidence, emotional intelligence, relationship, dealing with addiction, etc.), there are tons of books dedicated to each.
Buying a Kindle was literally the best purchase I've ever made in my entire life. I spent 7000 pesos but I've gained so much more.
Most popular books that are at least one year old are free to download online. One book usually costs 10 to 15 dollars. Every month, I read about five (fiction books included). That's $50 to $75 savings each month!
(I don't buy physical books because they take so much space, not to mention the trees involved. And they're pricey too!)
The rest is obvious; working out, eating healthy foods, and taking care of your health. And the not so obvious—your social media addiction.
And by the way, you can start addressing all these aspects by, (guess what), reading.
So if there's one habit I recommend that you start developing now, it's reading.