April 3, 2014 by Jim C.
I read an article in the New York Times entitled “How to get a job at Google.” The word “Google” caught my attention immediately as that has become synonymous with ingenuity and success (in my opinion). What do I do when I want to find something out that I don’t know about? I “Google” it and voila I get answers. When I get answers, Voila! I learn! It feels great to learn, doesn’t it? My next thought is: Wouldn’t it be great to work at a company where I could learn…every day? I would say that working at Google would be a dream job for many individuals, but that dream job could be closer than California.
In many businesses, employees are not given opportunities to learn and grow. They are hired for a specific purpose and the expectation is to perform their job duties as prescribed in the employment manual for that position. When the position is advertised potential candidates are selected based on resumes that have the terms required in the job description. For instance, if the job requires a college degree in computer science and a resume doesn’t have this shown, that resume is discarded for that hiring position. There isn’t a lot of weight given to other factors the individual may bring to the position to be successful, even without the degree. Besides, just because one has a degree doesn’t necessary indicate that individual is a match for the position. This is why interviews are done and questions are asked/answered. I’ve personally known a few people who’ve had a wealth of knowledge and experience that were ineligible for a position simply based on the lack of formal education. I also know people who are successful in their current positions without the formal education that is required for such a position today. So, the obvious question is: “Why is a formal education so important?” Well, Google says it may be important, but probably not as important as other attributes the employee brings to the job. For instance, when Google hires for a coding job the applicants coding ability is assessed, but they take it further and look at general cognitive ability. This is learning and creative thinking ability. You may be great at coding but can you be creative and think on the fly, can you quickly pull together bits of information? Now, looking at these attributes for a collector position, basically this is what a debt collection agent does daily on the telephone. For a collector to be successful one must be a creative thinker who can pull together bits of information during a conversation to resolve a debt. Formal education here is a minor factor in the scheme of duties and I don’t think the more educated you are the more successful you will be as a collector. You need the skill set of a good listener and interrogator.
Another important attribute (to Google) is leadership. Usually the vision here is president of a hobby club or a like position held by the applicant. What Google says leadership is really about is leading a group to accomplish a goal, and knowing when to step back and let others take that same role to keep the project moving forward. A leader has a big ego at times, and then also a small ego at the same time. Leading doesn’t always have to be from in front, and as a leader you need to relinquish power to other team members. For a collector to be great at the job one needs this same type of leadership ability. An effective collector needs to know when to push forward with the “big ego” and when to back off with the “small ego” to create a win-win situation. And I, as an employer must do the same—let the collector take control and do the job as efficiently and effectively as possible. I’m not a micro-manager and that is not what I must do as the employer if I want my team to be successful.
Other Google attributes are: humility, ownership and expertise with the last being the least important. Humility and ownership relate to a responsibility to make the company successful by working well with others. What can we do together to problem solve; the philosophy should be what you bring to the table is just as valuable as what I bring. I’ve always hired collectors with minimal expertise because you don’t have to break the bad habits to create the good habits. Don’t get me wrong, expertise could be the determining factor in hiring, but only if all other criteria is equal. While the “expert” already knows the answer to solve the problem, the non-expert will eventually figure it out and may also come up with other solutions totally new. There is an inherent value to this as it could create an edge for any business over the competition.
Google is one company with several thousand employees. The debt collection industry is several thousand companies with tens to hundreds of employees. I believe there are more opportunities to learn and grow in debt collection companies than in Google alone. I saw an interesting statistic recently stating that the debt collection industry was listed as number 11 on industries with the highest potential for future job growth. Who knows, if you have the qualities that Google is seeking you may be able to employ them closer to home in the collection industry.
Jim Cox is Vice President and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc.
Found in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service revenue cycle management and collection agency in Wisconsin providing highly effective customizable one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. We offer pre-service collection solutions as well as traditional back-end collections. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com or call 877-723-2902.