“With the right customer support job ad, you can start filtering out applicants before they even apply.”
Hiring is a time-consuming and fairly daunting task, regardless of the position you’re recruiting for. It’s also a very expensive process to make mistakes with, especially when it comes to customer support.
Your customer service team is the face of your company. One fishy support hire and your reputation and internal team environment can go downhill real fast.
If you’re a small company and don’t have a designated HR person to take care of all of the details, you’ll have to do it yourself, and especially with customer service jobs, applications will be a plenty.
This comes with a lot of concerns—how will I find time for going through the applications and CVs? When am I going to reply to people who aren’t a good fit? How long is scheduling interviews going to take? How long will the actual interviews take?
…not to even mention the general anxiety about making this hire perfect (remember—customer support = the face of your company).
However—do you see the trend in those common questions?
The time-consuming part of the hiring process—going through applications, scheduling, interviews—is usually associated with everything that happens after publishing the job ad.
We’ve got some good news—by shifting your focus from post-ad to pre-ad, you can spend easily cut the amount of time it takes to go through the candidates in half. Yup—with the right customer support job ad, you can start filtering out applicants before they even apply.
We’ve done a lot of hiring at Groove in the past few years, and have come up with a foundation for every job ad we put up. The customer support version of it will help you make sure you’ll be hiring the best support people to represent your company.
It’s pretty much foolproof when it comes to getting rid of the bad applicants from the get go, and we’re going to share some of the main points with you today.
If you have questions about other parts of the hiring process, we cover this (and other support topics) in more detail at our Customer Support Academy.
And, if you’re on the other side of the table and looking for tips on how to be a better applicant, Nicereply has an awesome post about the components and pitfalls of a great customer service resume.
Why Does The Ad Matter So Much?
As mentioned earlier, the customer support job ad itself is something very few people put much effort into. Even if you think you’re the exception, we suggest you keep reading to see if that’s actually the case.
More often than not, job ads are just thrown together without much thought just to get the application process rolling ASAP—so you can get to what most people consider the actually “important” part—going through the applications.
Spoiler alert: the ad itself is way more important.
A “regular” customer support job ad usually just describes the position, and asks for a CV and cover letter. This is the “classic” way of doing it, and it does technically get applicants in, sure.
Lots of them, probably. We’re going to go with “too many” even.
Let’s look at the main issues with a basic, “let’s just get it up there” job ad:
- They attract a ton of unqualified people
- They make it easy for lazy people to apply
- They’re boring—which scares away the good fits
First of all—the unqualified issue. If you don’t put a lot of effort into crafting the customer support job ad to describe exactly what you want and what you need, you’ll get a lot of applications from people who aren’t a fit skills-wise.
Secondly, if your CTA is just “please email your CV and cover letter to x person”, you will, absolutely and definitely, attract a ton of “serial appliers.”
These are the people that are either desperate to be hired (but haven’t because of their lack of skills), people who do need a job but are incredibly lazy, or, truthfully—just trolls.
In this case, a big chunk of your applicants will be people who take maybe five minutes to change something in their CV to try to impress you, or in the laziest case scenario, just insert your company name in the cover letter they’ve sent to 50 other places.
Sometimes they don’t even bother doing that, but we’re not going to touch on that just to avoid making HR people reading this angry. We feel you.
Also, how much info do you even get from a CV to begin with? We very rarely use CVs at Groove, and yet, we’ve hired only a-players. This is debatable, but just something to think about.
And last, but definitely not least—the “classic” ask of little more than a CV and cover letter is, let’s be honest, an absolute snoozefest.
There’s nothing new about it, there’s nothing exciting about it, and it’s what everybody else does. Applicants just send off their application and know that it’s just going to be stuck in some poor sod’s email inbox for ages and ages.
This scares away the good people. Think about smart and talented people. What do they look for?
They usually look for something different, something that stands out. They look for a challenge, and a place where they can use their skills to the fullest from the minute they click on that customer support job ad.
If you make your job ad stand out and be a little more exciting than just clicking a button to upload a document, you’ll keep their attention.
What Makes The Perfect Customer Support Job Ad?
Here are the three steps to pay attention to when writing an efficient customer support job ad:
- Pay extra attention to how it’s written
- Add simple control questions
- Add a task to make them work for it
Let’s go through these three things in a little bit more detail.
Being Extra Attentive When It Comes To Wording
As tempting as it is to just copy and paste the same description of the job and your company that you’ve used for years for every ad, you need to resist. Here’s why:
- It’s boring—which will attract the people who want a job, not the people who want the job. Do you want to hire someone who’ll just take any job? Probably not.
- It doesn’t attract people interested in that specific position—if you use a generic description without any highlights of why this is better than any other customer support job, you won’t get the people who are the best fit.
- Your company culture won’t shine through—this ties in with the boring part. If you get people who will just work for any company, they won’t have a good cultural fit with you.
Based on all the things a job ad of any kind shouldn’t be, here’s what you should do when writing the ad.
Think About The Position And What’s Really Special About It
We all know customer support agents have to:
- Reply to tickets
- Create knowledge bases and FAQ’s
- Be friendly and helpful
Tell them something they don’t know.
Tell them which tools and apps you use for your support process, and how the right candidate would help improve that process.
Tell them what your (genuine) standpoints are when it comes to support in your company—what kind of value do you want to provide to your customers besides just getting tickets resolved?
Tell them what this position could grow into—is this the first support hire who will possibly be leading a whole support team when the company starts growing?
We’re not saying you need to completely exclude the actual tasks involved in the job, but there has to be more.
Think about this specific position and what it will entail, who you’re really looking for, what they’ll really be doing, what their job environment will be like, what will they learn, where will they help move the needle for the company. This will attract the people who don’t want just a job, but a customer support job specifically like this.
Make Your Culture Come Through
When writing, make sure your culture shines through in everything you say.
Are you a tiny startup who enjoys Craft Beer Wednesdays, The 4-Hour Work Week and politically incorrect poop jokes? Make that very clear.
Are you a larger corporation that values correctness, 9 to 5 and wearing a suit at all times? Say that.
This will attract the kind of people who are a good cultural fit with your company. Especially when it comes to customer support, the people you hire need to be passionate about their job around the clock, every day.
If the cultural fit isn’t good and the person you’re hiring doesn’t feel comfortable, accepted, or a part of the family, it can not only damage your outward reputation (which support is very closely tied to), but it can poison the environment you have created within your team.
A bad cultural match is dangerous for any position you’re hiring for, but the ramifications of a support agent not doing their job very well can be a little more serious than with someone who is working only on internal parts of your company.
Be Very Specific About The Requirements
Last but not least—tell them specifically who you’re looking for in terms of experience. If you’re looking for an expert, ask for an expert, if you’re cool with high school graduates, say that.
If you need somebody with specific training or a certain amount of experience, then say that too. But be realistic and think about what you’re hiring for vs what you’re asking for.
Does a part time, entry-level support agent really need 5 years experience managing a team and a Phd? Basically, make sure that the description of the position you’re putting out there is in line with the requirements for applicants.
This should eliminate everyone who is under- or over-qualified for the position.
See how you’re already filtering out unfit candidates? There’s more.
Add Simple Control Questions
This is probably the easiest thing you can do, but boy, is it effective. At Groove, we typically end every job ad with two “control” questions.
Here’s an example of what they might look like:
- Set “Content Marketer” as the email subject line
- Add your favorite cat gif
Are we all just silly startup hipsters who want to be cool and relatable? Maybe. But that’s not the point.
These little extra questions or asks serve a very simple purpose—to see if the applicant can follow instructions (or even read those instructions). Basic reading skills and the ability to understand what exactly you’re being asked for are especially important when hiring support agents.
If an applicant can’t even be arsed to read through a job application and deliver the requested information (that isn’t even a big task), how are they going to go through an email from a customer and give them what they want?
Think we’re being dramatic? Truth is that there are baffling amounts of people who just apply for anything, without even reading the description.
When we recently hired a customer support agent, can you guess how many people out of total applicants failed to do one or all of those things we asked them to do in the end? 38%.
Nearly 4 out of every 10 applicants.
This 38% either didn’t even make it to the end of the listing because they were that lazy, or they just didn’t care enough to pay attention to these things because they thought it was “stupid”.
Doesn’t matter, really.
With the people that refuse to put in the effort—we pretty much discard them immediately. Gone. Next. The email subject line ask is set up in Gmail as a filter. Whoever doesn’t do it, doesn’t even go in the inbox.
Seems harsh? A little.
However, trust us on this—you are 100% better off without them. These people are not truly invested or interested. They, again, want a job. Any job.
When looking for a customer support agent, you need somebody who wants the job you are offering. They’re passionate about you, your culture, your product or service, and so on.
They want to help your customers.
These little control elements weed out the people that aren’t right for the job and it does this without taking nearly any of your time. If an email doesn’t contain the right subject line (or whatever your filter is), you just delete it without a second thought.
This lets you spend so much more time with the good candidates so you can increase your chances of finding that A-player.
Add a couple of simple “control” questions to your ad, and just cold-bloodedly filter out anyone who doesn’t care.
Add a Test Task
Adding a very simple test task or project that the applicants have to include will not only scare away the people who can’t be bothered to put in the effort, but it will also help you scan the remaining applicants for suitability.
Looking at a CV can give you some idea about their work experience, but it shows you nothing about what they’re like when they’re actually on the field.
There are two options for this check box:
Give them a situation to work with—something that they would encounter in their everyday job—and have them describe how they would deal with it.
- For example:
Imagine that you have a customer who is upset with a product bug and demands a refund. Your company doesn’t do refunds. What do you do?
Or, you can tap into their actual previous experience, and ask them to describe something important they’ve gone through before.
- For example:
Tell me about the two customer support situations you’re most proud of, and one that you think you could have done better at.
It doesn’t really matter which one you use—both of these options make your applicant actually do some work, and not only that, but you’ll get a great idea about:
- How they write
- How they communicate
- What they’re like in the field
- How much effort they put into a task
Besides those things, you can also roughly see if your applicants possess the most important skills for customer support agents, including:
If you want to read more about these competences (and how to develop them), check out our post on the customer service skills you need to succeed.
We do test questions or little tasks for every job ad we post, whether it’s customer support or anything else—and again, automatically eliminate anyone who doesn’t have the gusto to go through with it.
This isn’t something that should take them hours to complete (you can save that for later in the process), it’s just another step to allow the top candidates to separate themselves from the rest of the crowd.
Ready To Snatch Up Your Ideal Customer Support Agent?
Combining these three components has helped us at Groove to dramatically decrease the time it takes to plough through job applications—and you can do it, too.
Regardless of whether you have a designated hiring department or not, you’ll still be saving huge amounts of time and reducing your workload dramatically by eliminating a good chunk of the unfit candidates before they even apply.
You’ll attract the people who care enough to pay attention, are genuinely familiar with your company and your values, and aren’t scared to do a little thinking and work even when they’re not a part of a team yet.