How to Become a Collections Specialist
It often takes a certain kind of person to work as a collections specialist. Unfortunately for many who work in the collections field, their job title automatically subjects them to an often undeserved reputation. When many people think of collections work, they immediately envision the stereotypical collections scenario and assume the worst. They might imagine phone calls at all hours of the day, coming from pushy, irate, and often unreasonable collections agents regarding the payment of bills and outstanding debt. However, there is much more to collections than this somewhat embarrassing segment of the industry. In many cases, those who work in the collections field are educated, polite, and well intentioned, and work for a number of well-known and respected companies and organizations.
JOB FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES
A large portion of your work as a collections specialist will be based around finding solutions to payment issues with clients and customers. Utilizing your customer service skills, your job in collections will likely require you to work with a number of accounts to find methods for customers to pay outstanding balances or negotiate payment terms. Depending on your employer’s policies and your level of expertise, you may also be allowed to make determinations on certain aspects of payment terms or writing off bad debt balances. In almost any case, expect to communicate closely with your manager or supervisor to keep them informed of collection processes and the status of payment for your accounts.
While these job functions might not sound exciting at first, your work as a collections specialist can be very gratifying. Finding ways to effectively communicate with clients and reach mutual understandings that behoove both your employer and them can be quite rewarding.
QUALIFICATIONS AND SKILLS
There will likely be a close correlation between the level of qualifications and skills that you bring to the table, and the size and number of accounts, as well as level of responsibility with which you will be entrusted as a collections specialist. The higher level of responsibility needed for the position, the more likely you will need certain qualifications to obtain such a position.
For larger accounts, high volume or corporate collections, an employer may want anywhere from 1-3 years experience or more in collections or related positions such as an accounts receivable or customer service representative. You can increase your chances of landing a position by highlighting work or experience in roles that required negotiating skills, a strong customer service background, a high level of communications ability, and great organization skills. The ability to work and make decision independently is also a plus.
HOW CAN HAVING AN EDUCATION HELP?
So what if you don’t have the hands on experience an employer is calling for in their job description for a collections specialist position? What if your work background isn’t chocked full of customer service experience? This is where having a degree or educational background to fall back upon can be helpful.
Employers are often more likely to take a chance on hiring an individual with less experience if the candidate has some sort of educational background. Whether this background is an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or even just college level courses in industry related subject matter such as business or communications, it can increase the chances of landing a job in the collections field by replacing limited experience with online or college campus coursework.
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