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Search Call and Contact division specialise in tailored and unique recruitment strategies to secure the right talent for our clients. Read on to find out how they placed upwards of fifty multilingual customer service operates, for two very different businesses, and all during lockdown.

The importance of agility when recruiting a multilingual team during lockdown

Building up a multilingual team may seem like a relatively simple task for recruiters. However, when a leading ecommerce business came to Search Call and Contact Centre looking to hire multiple natively fluent customer service operatives, it was all systems go to find and hire experienced, bilingual staff.

After several of their non-UK based offices shutdown and were opened domestically, our client needed 21 local candidates with good English that spoke either French, German, Spanish or Italian to operate their customer service lines. Staff were required to be bilingual at least, but trilingual was the ultimate goal.

There was the additional problem of the pandemic. Once COVID-19 hit and lockdown was enforced, finding and interviewing those multilingual candidates required a recruitment partner that was highly connected and agile.

Search Call and Contact Centre was on hand to support their hiring needs. We adapted the recruitment process to be fully digital, utilising the power of video software for the interviews and introduced each candidate to an online language test to ensure they were indeed up to the near-native standard required by the client.

The entire end-to-end process took around 3 weeks, which was an incredible effort from the Search Call and Contact Centre team. During that period, they arranged 42 interviews to fill the desired languages, focusing on bilingual and trilingual native speakers that had experience in customer service, to support their seamless global communications.

Despite the challenges of lockdown and the strict brief, the Search Call and Contact Centre team managed to fill all 21 of the required roles within each language area required. This meant that overall they had a 1 in 2 hit rate for candidates hired, higher than their average, and all during the peak of coronavirus.

They achieved this with an intensive online interview process, including a recruitment call with the internal Search Call and Contact Centre team before the candidate’s video interview to ensure that they were the right fit for the culture of the business, as well as possessing the correct language skills and experience. This was then confirm by a video interview and language test.

Overall the client was incredibly happy with the results of the recruitment campaign. All of their language requirements were filled in a matter of weeks, during a difficult period, saving the ecommerce business significant man hours.

“We were happy to come on board and assist this client with their multilingual recruitment needs. Finding trilingual, or even bilingual candidates during a pandemic is not an easy task, but amazingly the team increased their own hiring rate for candidates put forward. This was a great success for us, and the business now has staff speaking the language they need across multiple areas of the customer service and business support teams.” Bilal Oussellam Business Partner, Commercial Recruitment, East Coast

Thinking outside of the box when recruiting a multilingual team

When recruiting multilingual teams, the main European languages of French, German, Spanish and Italian are the easiest roles to fill. But what happens when the client needs more unusual language speakers that are difficult to find?

Working with a medical logistics company, Search Call and Contact Centre needed to source a total of 35 staff, including fluent and native speakers of much rarer languages such as Afrikaans, Finnish, Zulu and Swahili in order to fill the client’s customer service requirements. In general, placing multilingual candidates for European languages is not a problem and multiple applicants are commonly available for such roles. Due to the uncommon nature of the required languages, native speakers procurable for employment in the UK were few and far between.

The Search Call and Contact Division team set out to find candidates that had the necessary customer service and logistics experience, and that also spoke these rarer languages. After searching through their huge existing candidate database and struggling, they knew they had to think outside the box and flex some of their professional and personal contacts in order to meet the multilingual job specifications.

After working with the client to refine the role requirements so that the focus was on languages rather than overly heavy on experience, the team went above and beyond to source the candidates. They did everything from reaching out to relevant personal contacts, to sourcing housing for candidates who were prepared to relocate for the job.

This was also an exercise in refining candidate attraction, as the recruitment process took place during lockdown. Moving was seen as risky, particularly if it meant travelling abroad whilst there was an ongoing pandemic. The team had to pique the interest of candidates by really selling the opportunity and the employer, whilst reassuring candidates that the move was worthwhile, and offering a supportive ear for any queries or concerns they might have.

Though the situation may not have been ideal, the team pulled together and tailored the recruitment strategy to fit both the client’s and the candidates’ needs. Ultimately the client made 12 offers, with some still to come, and the end-to-end recruitment process progressed much quicker than usual.  

“Whilst we’re used to sourcing multilingual candidate for our clients, the rarer languages such as Zulu and Swahili are much harder to source. That’s why it required some out-of-the-box thinking from the teams. We’re used to going above and beyond, but this was certainly a unique recruitment campaign for all involved.” Bilal Oussellam, Business Partner, Commercial Recruitment, East Coast

Are you looking to strengthen your customer service team with some additional languages? Get in touch with Bilal and his team today.

If you're multilingual and want to look for a new role, speak to the Search Call and Contact Centre team to find out more.