CX companies moving rapidly to WFH are about to discover a major flaw in the recruitment industry

CX companies moving rapidly to WFH are about to discover a major flaw in the recruitment industry


Words by Andrew Steijaert
Reading time 4 min

At 5CA, working from home is just business as usual. 95% of our team is based at home so we have been watching the sudden focus on work from home business models, especially for customer service, with some interest. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is creating a wave of companies asking their employees to work from home, but it takes time to get it right – you can’t change your corporate culture overnight.

andrew steijaert

The 5CA Talent Acquisition team has been recruiting people to work from home for quite a few years and we know that you need to look beyond academic qualifications. Domain expertise is really critical – for example when you are building a customer service team for a games company then you need gamers to be answering those call queries from customers. You would not go and hire people from a bank contact center and assume they will be fine supporting gamers because they have contact center experience.

Team spirit and the ability to work in a virtual team are also essential. Many people today fall into the category known as ‘digital natives’ – they have grown up surrounded by the Internet and communication technology. However, just because someone grew up using social media does not mean they have the attitude and discipline to work remotely and participate in team activities.

One of the recurring problems I have – and all those companies rapidly shifting to a work from home model are about to see – is that the entire recruitment industry is just not ready for a shift to virtual teams and working from home.

I’ll give you an example. If I need to hire some data analysts then I don’t care where they are located, provided they can connect to the company and fulfill some basic criteria, such as the right mind-set, expertise, and potential. So if I need to hire a data analyst then that person could apply from almost anywhere – Canada, Australia, or Kenya. It doesn’t matter to me, so long as they have the right skills for the job and the infrastructure needed to connect.

None of the major players in the recruitment advertising space found seems to work like this yet, from a global perspective at least. I always need to specify a ‘base’ for every job. If I specify that all our vacancies are based in the Netherlands then how will the skilled data analysts in Canada ever see my vacancy? They will be filtering on locally available jobs.

The entire recruitment process needs a mindset shift to focus on skills, not location. We will often try to ‘follow the sun’ with various skills, so if we are hiring data analysts in Asia Pacific then we will try to get similar people in EMEA and North America, so the teams can hand off work to the next region as their day finishes. Try explaining this to a job board that requires us to select an exact location, as detailed as state and city, or even to LinkedIn or job aggregators that do allow us to post a job as ‘remote’, but only in a specific country.
I get that this is how their pricing models work, but it’s a little ironic to see how some of those former disruptors are in fact very traditional from the perspective of our needs.

“So, you want to hire people in Tokyo?”

“Sure… , but anywhere in APAC is OK as well, but then I also need people in Africa and South America and they all need similar skills so they can work together…”


The recruitment industry remains geographically focused, yet this pandemic is forcing companies to focus on skills, no matter where their people are located. This is exactly how 5CA has operated for over 15 years – just get the best people onto the team regardless of where they are. Our CEO always says that we can hire for any language, any skill, and anywhere and that’s exactly what we do.

It’s my job to identify the talent we need, no matter where they are. It’s a struggle to work with partners that are not geared up for this, but it’s something I just have to manage. Everyone else in our industry is about to face the same challenge. Good luck!

Photo by NZTEU licensed under Creative Commons.

Andrew Steijaert

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