Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Developing Candidates Before They Apply

Have you ever said to yourself (or to anyone else, for that matter), “These fresh-out-of-school grads understand collections, but they just don’t have what it takes to do it”? Organizations across the board have complained for years that recent graduates have basic job skills and specialized knowledge, but they are lacking “soft skills,” i.e., the ability to get along with others, to handle stress, to keep themselves organized, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew ahead of time that your collectors were trained in both aspects of the job? Through a partnership between your agency, ATG’s FuturesLeaders division, and your local community college, you can do just that.

Candidate Development
Many community colleges offer courses in collections to train students in the technical skills they need to be successful collectors; others would be willing to offer such courses if employers (i.e., your agency) expressed enough demand. This college preparation takes away some of the training time and headaches you undoubtedly experience with brand new collectors. But that’s only half of it…colleges don’t usually teach their students how to be socially assertive, outgoing, or confident.

To remedy this problem, some colleges are offering to their students the opportunity to compare themselves to the job models of their desired positions. For instance, students in enrolling in collection courses can be compared to the job model of a successful collector (i.e., ATG’s “Collector Selector”). This initial comparison allows students to identify where they are currently the strongest and where they still need some work…before they ever set foot in your agency! Once they have this information, they can work with instructors, supervisors, and/or mentors to help them develop the “soft skills” they need to be successful collectors.

Benefits
Agency. Your agency’s candidate pool becomes much deeper and richer with people who have prepared themselves for the collector position. You now have a group of people at your fingertips with the degrees, collector training, and people skills necessary to be successful in the collector position. All you have to do is decide who is the “best of the best”…not a bad place to be!

Students/Candidates. Students who wish to enter the collection business can also benefit from the development and training process. Essentially, they have a sneak peak into what agencies are looking for in their collectors and can work to meet those needs! By understanding what agencies want, the uncertainty and anxiety around whether they may be a good fit is eliminated.


The gap between classroom training and agency needs does not need to exist. By allowing students to understand what agencies need, they can eliminate these gaps to be successful collectors.

by Christina Adkins, Ph.D, ATG Organizational Consultant

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