Call Center Customer Service Roles – Unique Skills for Unique Challenges

Call Center Customer Service Roles – Unique Skills for Unique Challenges

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If you’ve ever worked in a customer service position, you know that it can be very rewarding and takes a special personality and skill set to handle the challenges. Those who have the ability to make it look easy are admired for their positive outlook and high tolerance to cope with the demands. Here are some additional skills that translate well to customer service, particularly in a call center environment:

Computer Skills

  • Experience on a CRM-type system and ability to navigate a Windows environment.
  • Typing and alphanumeric data entry capabilities, includes knowledge of QWERTY keyboards and having the ability to hit the correct keys quickly and without looking; accuracy is key.
  • Microsoft Office program competencies, such as Outlook, Word, and Excel.

Coolness in a Fast-Paced Environment

  • Similar to the experience of working in a retail environment where there is a line of customers waiting to be assisted – a call center environment has patrons waiting to be assisted, except there isn’t a physical line. It is a queue of phone calls waiting on hold to be answered. Keeping focused and on-task; working with the caller quickly and efficiently; then moving on to the next call– while keeping your cool and offering the same enthusiasm you had for the first customer– are skills that hiring managers look for in job-seeking candidates.

Professional Telephone Etiquette

  • Call Center Customer Service Agents are polite, patient, and respectful at all times, especially if the caller is angry and rude. Avoid using terms that may be too familiar or slang based and never use profanity!

Customer Service Orientation

    • Active Listening – fully focusing on the caller and demonstrating that you have heard what the caller said with your helpful, confident, and on-point response.
    • Genuine Empathy – connecting emotionally builds trust with the caller by taking the time (and patience) to understand the customer’s needs.
    • Communication skills
      • Positive language focuses on the “good” versus something that may be perceived as a negative i.e. “Thank you for your patience” instead of “Sorry for your wait”, or “My pleasure” as a response to customers’ thank you instead of “No problem.”
      • Summarize the main points of the conversation to clarify the caller’s situation, ensuring that you’re on the right track to resolution and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.
      • Speaking clearly and slowly ensures the caller’s comprehension.
      • Bilingual skills are an asset to the company and those callers needing assistance.


  • The ability to take ownership of the call, handling an escalated situation to resolution without passing the caller onto a manager, cutting down on additional time or the risk of a dropped call.

Knowledge of Processes

  • Most companies have a minimum level of competency for skills that they look for when hiring a job seeker, allowing their training program to focus on the computer system, their products, and standards expectations.


  • The saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life”. A call center customer service role offers that variety as no two callers are the same, and often no two circumstances are the same. The ability to adjust your response and resolution to the caller’s needs is vital to the success of the role.
  • Another saying goes, “The one constant is change”. Being able to adjust to changes in policy, product, and standards is common in just about any position.

Most call center environments also offer growth opportunities. As a call center customer service representative, you can be promoted to a Lead Agent role and eventually become a supervisor or trainer. The company may also have opportunities within the organization in other departments such as Information Technology (IT), accounting, or fulfillment (just to name a few).

If you’re interested in a position that challenges you, isn’t just a job, and will put you on a career path of steady employment, Abel Personnel partners with many onsite call centers in Harrisburg, PA and Baltimore, MD. Our expert recruiters will assist you with your resume and interviews so you can convey the skills and capabilities that make you a great Call Center Customer Service Representative candidate. To apply for a Call Center Customer Service Representative position (or any of our other positions), go to our job board at and apply today. One of our helpful Talent Sourcers or a Recruiter will reach out to you with more information and the next step to your new job.


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In recent discussions with human resources directors, our business development specialist was asked for updates on the four day workweek. They wanted to know what types of applicants are seeking this option and what companies, i.e., their competitors, are offering this. Given Abel’s wide contacts with both applicants and client companies over a wide range of industries, there were many updates:

First, Which 4 Day Workweek?

    Most employers assume that this would be a substitution of 4 ten hour days for 5 eight hour days. However, that is not always the premise. Some workers are seeking a reduction in both work days and total hours. The current 40 hour a week model is only about a century old. The argument for further reduction rests on massive productivity advances since then. A March 2023 Newsweek survey found that, while 71% of American workers favored a 4 day workweek, 83% felt they could accomplish their current workload in 32 hours. Indeed, the PA State Legislature is considering a bill to offer tax incentives to companies that move to a 32 hour week.

Is This Just a Tight Labor Market Gimmick?

    In the last few years, many HR directors have shifted to offering the option for a four day workweek along with remote work and other flexible arrangements. First, this was done during the COVID-19 pandemic to limit in-person work. Later, this was a benefit to attract applicants for hard-to-fill openings. With some sort of economic downturn predicted for 2023 or 2024, will there finally be more applicants than jobs, so such flexibility will no longer be needed? Offering special and unique benefits will always be a means to attract the highest talent. Perhaps proposing a mid-range salary to top talent with that flexibility might be a successful strategy to attract (and retain) staff. Still, the strong demand for certain positions will be unaffected by a recession that affects some industries but not others.

So, Who’s Actually Offering 4 Days Workweeks?

    Among major companies, the most well-known are Panasonic and Toshiba. Panasonic’s Japanese corporate office determined that implementing 4 day/40 hour weeks was the most effective. Microsoft’s Japan operation reduced the workweek to 4 days/32 hours (a 20% reduction) and productivity jumped 40%. Locally, a few other major companies have moved to a 4 day workweek for almost all employees. As examined in Abel’s blog article of May 3, 2022 entitled, “Is the Four Day Workweek the Next Workplace Trend?” the most labor-competitive companies are continually working to identify which positions perform as well or better than 4 days/40 hours, and which employees do well in that type of schedule, as well as other flexible arrangements. Certainly, staggered shifts, additional staffing support or other creative scheduling solutions would be required to offer a 4 day workweek to employees in customer service assembly or warehouse roles.

As technology improves, especially artificial intelligence (AI), job needs will also evolve toward improving efficiency and productivity along with job satisfaction and morale. Companies will continue to seek the right level of flexibility that still maintains the desired corporate culture. Abel Personnel will continue to guide its client firms on both the staffing trends within their industry as well as what each generation of applicants values in the workplace.

Sourced from:

  • Newsweek, “America is Ready for the 4-Day Workweek,” Giulia Carbonaro, March 17, 2023
  • Indeed, “Is a 4-Day Workweek the Future? These 10 Companies Think So,” Nikki Carter, March 16, 2023


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Past discussions between the Human Resources Manager and their Abel Personnel representative, Addeline, occasionally focused on the true cost of hiring, and why an outside recruiter may be most cost-effective. Addeline’s reasoning for using a staffing and recruiting firm such as Abel Personnel typically touched on six areas:

Cost of Hiring

1 In-house Recruiter Salary & Benefits:Typically, the in-house recruiter either has no openings to fill or is inundated with personnel requisitions (feast or famine). In the former case, there is not a demonstrated full-time need for an internal recruiter. In the latter case, the capacity of a single recruiter might further delay the number of days to have multiple positions filled (see below).
2 Access to Applicant Database:Abel’s database already has numerous candidates for a wide range of positions. A single in-house recruiter would likely not have built that resource. Online resources are an option for both in-house and third party recruiters, but there is also a pool of applicants that do not engage with social media for job searches, preferring to have a trusted recruiter “keep them in mind.” The outside recruiter has also identified current applicants that would not be a good fit based on previous screening, information the in-house recruiter would not have.
3 Associated Costs: The cost of preparing and posting openings, and fees to job listing services can be considerable. Creating a job posting that attracts the right candidates, posting the position, reviewing resumes including those who do not quality are time and energy consuming. The postings may not even produce results consuming time and money.
4 Lost Revenue: Often the most overlooked expense, the difference between the two approaches in how many days required to fill the position, means that the revenue from that position is lost and/or that others covering for the opening are not doing their own job well and are subject to burnout. There is an impact on productivity and an emotional strain. The depth of resources of an outside recruiter will almost always result in a quicker hire.
5 Lost Management Time: If there is no in-house recruiter, managers may need to screen all resumes, schedule interviews and generally be the in-house recruiter, diverting attention from other managerial duties.
6 No cost until a hire is made: The hiring company does not have any cost, if Abel does not provide a candidate they want to hire. The sourcing, posting, resume reviewing, initial interviews are completed by Abel. The firm only looks at select, screened candidates who fit the company, the location and the pay range. Significant time, energy and money are saved.

More information about calculating the standard cost per hire can be found here. Benchmark estimates of the cost of recruiting range up to 3x annual salary. This calculation depends in part on how many hours are devoted by how many people doing interviews, direct cost to bring the applicant in for an interview, screening, etc.

Cost of a Bad Hire
This time, Addeline offered a different consideration: what is the cost of a bad hire? She then suggested the following hard and soft cost impacts:

1 Lost Hiring Costs:Often the expenses to make the hire must be written off. The second choice for the position may be no longer available once the first choice proves unworthy. A new search and the associated costs begin.
2 Lost Onboarding and Training Costs: This process is likely completed before a bad fit is identified.
3 Impact on Staff Morale: An embarrassing hire leaves staff wondering why the hire occurred and frustrated to go back to covering the opening.
4 Impact on Clients and Vendors: Having introduced the new hire to those contacts, a communication is needed to notify that the new hire did not work out.
5 Further Lost Revenue: The number of days until the position is finally filled has been extended.

Addeline then added that the placement fees include a replacement hire should an initia hire not be successful.

Looking at this flip side of hiring, the HR manager had to agree that engaging a staffing and recruiting firm, with its deep resources and experience, had a higher likelihood of finding the right person sooner, reducing hiring process expenses, and, in the possible case of a bad hire, recovering the placement fee expense.

Sourced from:

  • SHRM, “The Real Costs of Recruitment,” Katie Navarra, April 11, 2022
  • AIHR, “Cost per Hire: Definition, Formula, and Calculation,” Erik van Vulpen

Summer Childcare for Working Parents

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The adults at the neighborhood’s annual Memorial Day Cookout reminisced about how, as school children, Memorial Day was the final countdown to the end of the academic year. Whether this meant camp, summer jobs, family vacations, or just free time, it almost always involved many days of being home and sleeping late. Now, as parents, summertime creates more stress, especially in households where both parents work. What to do with the kids home from school?

This is not a summer-only problem, of course. Children become sick and need to stay home from school. If a willing relative can’t be found, one spouse would be required to stay home. One couple reports that they switch off at noon. Single parents have even fewer options. During the COVID pandemic, there was greater leeway, and often one, if not both, parent(s) were already working from home. Either way, this schedule juggling was mostly short-term. More than 10 weeks of summer is a scale above caring for a child with a 24-hour virus. Parents, particularly those with young, school-aged children, quickly develop a sick child coverage routine. What was needed, one parent proposed, was a summerlong childcare routine.

By the end of the event, the following ideas surfaced:

  • Summer Daycare or Extended Hour Camp: Some parents had access to and could afford such coverage that approximated the school day hours. However, the additional cost was more than other parents had in their budgets. One single mother shared that she had received a scholarship from the church that ran her children’s daycare. An older couple shared that their parents had helped with the additional cost of daycare in the summer for a few years, until their oldest son reached an age where he could supervise the younger ones.
  • Summer Help: High school students, college students, and perhaps some teachers who are on summer break might be a good resource. Also, sharing a summer sitter with close friend(s) and/or alternating homes, is a way to split the cost and minimize the kids’ summer boredom that may creep in. Keep in mind that they, too, might have multiple-week vacation plans. Also, teenagers may be less reliable and less dependent on the job for income and may lose interest. A backup plan and a backup to the backup plan may be needed.
  • Work from Home: Some employers may be amenable to allowing a trusted employee to switch to remote work for the summer. Many workers proved they could work effectively from home, often while their children were also doing remote learning, so this might be an easier sell post-pandemic.
  • Hybrid Schedule: This might involve couples developing complementary schedules for days at the worksite and days at home. In cases where summer help cannot commit to five full days a week, this could cover those “uncovered” days.
  • Summer Schedule: In certain job roles, there may be an opportunity to change schedules to work four 10-hour days, three 12-hour days, or odd shifts to supplement the availability of summer help or a working spouse. Where there is job flexibility and personal resources, schedules can be cut back over the summer to fewer hours.

The cookout attendees also agreed that whatever single or combination of strategies are selected, it was vital to keep the employer informed of the situation and the proposed approach(es). Managers and supervisors might well empathize with the situation, perhaps having had summers with school children, too. Better to be open about the need for some schedule irregularity than have management concerned that there might be a more nefarious problem.

As they said their goodbyes, one woman quipped, “I do love summer, but still, I can’t wait to see you all at the Labor Day Picnic!”


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Paula was the first to admit that she might have done a better job preparing to transition to the working world compared to her graduating class. Her college education was solid and her professors had connected her to some great summer internships. However, she never really connected with the university’s placement department. With all the senior year activities plus finishing her finals, Paula never found time to attend those classes and sit with a counsellor. Her roommate was graduating with a degree in Accounting, so her path forward was “preordained.” Paula’s degree in Communications helped her develop many great skills, but not a clear career path.

In speaking with a family friend who had recently retired, Paula received the following advice:

1 Don’t Panic! You have valuable skills and experiences that many companies will be thrilled to bring on board for you to contribute to their success.
2 Develop a Pristine Resume: Likely none of your experiences, especially those afterschool high school jobs, will be impressive just plainly listed on your resume. The skills you picked up and what you learned from each job experience is what will attract a potential employer. Write down these skills and experiences in as much detail as you can remember to provide context for these experiences. Then create a resume that conveys all that you offer.
3 Prepare an Elevator Pitch: This summary should be clearly based on the research you’ve done on the company. In a few short, simple and concise sentences, It should:

  • Show that you are good at what you do.
  • Showcase your technical and soft skills.
  • Present your value proposition for that prospective employer.
4 Live the Person You Want to Be: Start dressing, grooming, and acting like the person you see yourself in the job you envision. That way you will look comfortable in your own skin by the time you arrive at your first interview, as someone the interviewer can envision in the job that is open. Just as college was an opportunity to reinvent yourself a bit, transitioning to the world of work offers the same chance to tweak yourself again.
5 Seek Professional Support: Just because you were successful at schoolwork, and will likely be equally accomplished as a hard worker, you shouldn’t assume you have been endowed with the skills required to find the job that is the right fit. A professional recruiter is a free resource available that knows how to find that job, and with the skills and experience to prepare you to succeed in the process of developing an attention-demanding resume and excelling at interviews. The recruiter also has access to companies and job openings that neither your college placement service nor online job boards know about. You will have a coach and an advocate through the hiring process and beyond.

After ticking off these five steps, the mentor suggested that Abel Personnel would be the right professional recruiting resource if Paula was intending to remain in Central Pennsylvania. Paula made the call, and arrived at her first meeting with the recruiter with the results of the first 4 steps. The recruiter was impressed, suggesting Paula’s preparation would shorten the placement process by weeks. The interviews with interested employers began the next week.

TODAY’S HOT JOB: Engineers

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Even in a high-demand profession such as Engineering, the job search for a new position can pose a challenge or be “downright miserable” as one job seeker recently described it. The upside of this industry is that labor demand allows you to take charge of your career path. The downside is that you’re so busy with projects, workloads, and personal commitments, it can be challenging to be disciplined to make the time to comprehensively conduct your job search.

The average employee looks to make a move in their career every four years. As you start to notice the itch for wanting more or something different, it’s important to know what change you’re looking to pursue. Knowing your “why” is critical, whether it’s salary, type of role, company and culture, or a stable career progression.. This sharper focus will assist in pointing you in the right direction to follow your passion.

While still employed, it’s best to be discreet about your job search. Posting your resume to online job boards, tagging on LinkedIn, mentioning it to a coworker (tell one person and the next thing you know, it’s front page news) or networking within your industry can lead to awkwardness or worse with your current employer. Even using your boss or coworkers as references should only be done after explaining your need for discretion . Don’t give notice until you have been officially offered and accepted the new job.

Working with Abel Personnel can provide you with a more confidential and less time-consuming job search solution! At Abel Personnel, our recruiters make themselves available during and outside of regular business hours to discuss your goals and preferences. They will assist you in creating a strong resume and can present you to hiring managers as a “confidential candidate.” The recruiters can also give you feedback from potential employers that will help you fine-tune your interviewing skills or your job search strategy.

Abel Personnel works with employers in the Central Pennsylvania area filling positions for Engineers, CAD Designers, Civil Engineers, Project Engineers, Engineering Technicians, and more. If you are looking to follow your interests in the Engineering Industry, we help outstanding candidates find the next step in their career journey. Our recruiting services are free to job seekers. Please contact us through our website at or call us at 717-761-8111 to speak with a recruiter.

Announcing Danene’s promotion to Recruiter

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Marion Adams, Director of Recruiting at Abel Personnel, recently announced that Danene Magaro is being promoted to the position of recruiter after two years as a staffing assistant. In her new position, Danene will work closely with both client companies and candidates to achieve the right fit of job requirements and qualifications. Her tenure at Abel plus over 26 years of professional experience in marketing and communications design offer a wide range of involvement with many different types of companies and their needs; These include advertising, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sales. Her longtime focus on helping clients establish new businesses will offer a unique understanding to her clients who are expanding or starting up new ventures.

Danene holds a BA degree from Kutztown University with previous studies at Elizabethtown College. She leads volunteer efforts at her church, and spends the balance of her leisure time hiking, painting and running. Danene lives in the South Central Pennsylvania area with her husband and two Shelties.

Finding Top Talent During Economic Uncertainty

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In recent years, real wage growth (after considering inflation) has slowed down in the United States. Economists and analysts attribute this to a variety of factors, including low productivity growth, demographic shifts, and global competition. This has also had an impact on the economy and interest rates, which in turn affect hiring as companies struggle to attract candidates to fill their staffing needs. Connecting with a staffing and recruiting firm such as Abel Personnel, a WBE business based in Harrisburg, is an essential strategy in uncertain economic conditions.

Recent data from 2021 and 2022 shows that the U.S. economy is still grappling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the economy saw a growth of 6.7% in 2021, many industries are still struggling to recover. One year later, wages only grew 4.2% in 2022 according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The administrative, IT, and other sectors impacted by the pandemic are experiencing slower growth rates. The retail industry continues to be hit hard as well. Due to these challenges, companies have been hesitant to increase wages and have resorted to cost-cutting measures to stay competitive. Despite the positive growth in 2021, the economic recovery remains fragile. As a result, companies across all industries are proceeding with caution as they navigate the ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic.

Interest rates have also been a major factor in the current economic climate. The Federal Reserve has raised rates several times in the past twelve months, which has made borrowing more expensive for businesses. This has led to a decrease in investment and has made it harder for companies to expand and hire new employees.

Slow real wage growth and economic uncertainty have made it more difficult for companies to find the right candidates to fill their staffing needs. This has led to increased competition for talent, with companies may feel the need to offer more attractive benefits packages and higher salaries to attract top talent. To navigate this challenging environment, companies must be proactive in finding a staffing agency to help with their hiring strategies. Staffing agencies focus on building relationships with potential candidates and have access to a large database of locally qualified candidates, making it easier for companies to find the right employees for their staffing needs. With their expertise and industry knowledge, staffing agencies can help companies remain competitive by providing access to top talent, even during challenging times.

Moreover, staffing agencies offer a range of benefits beyond just providing access to a pool of candidates. They can help businesses streamline the hiring process, assist with employee relations, and manage payroll and benefits. These services can significantly reduce the burden on businesses and allow them to focus on other critical aspects of their operations.

In conclusion, the current economic climate has made it challenging for companies to find the right employees to fill their staffing needs. However, by partnering with a staffing agency, businesses can gain access to a large pool of qualified candidates and other valuable services that can help them remain competitive. With their industry knowledge and expertise, staffing agencies can help businesses navigate the current hiring landscape and find top talent, regardless of economic conditions. Although outsourcing staffing services may seem contradictory during a time when businesses are cutting costs, the data indicates that the time and resources that a staffing agency saves their clients is incredibly valuable.


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020). Employment Situation Summary.
    Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. (2020). Federal Funds Rate – 62 Year Historical Chart.
  • “2021 Economic Outlook: Economic Growth to Accelerate with Continued Policy Support,”
    Congressional Budget Office
  • “2021 US IT Salary Survey: COVID-19 Impacts IT Pros' Jobs and Pay,” Information Week
  • “Administrative Services Market Global Report 2021: COVID-19 Impact and Recovery to 2030,”
    Research and Markets
  • “2021 US Retail Industry Outlook: Accelerated Transformation in a Post-Pandemic World,” Deloitte

Seana Steiner Joins Abel Personnel’s Recruiting Team

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Seana Steiner has joined Abel Personnel as a Recruiter. In this role, she will undertake staffing efforts for clients as well as supporting and guiding candidates. She brings a unique skill set to the table with her education in Psychology plus a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Seana’s three years of military experience as a combat medic provides an invaluable perspective and resource for both candidates and clients through demonstrated servant leadership, tactful personal engagement, and a special level of empathy.

Prior to Joining Abel Personnel, Seana had over four years of experience working as a patient advocate and with student veteran recruitment and retention, skills that transfer well to her new position. During Seana’s downtime, she undertakes volunteer work and enjoys singing and creating music, painting landscape portraits, or doing DIY projects in her home. She owes much of her motivation and success to her beautiful daughter Braylee, and her two lovable felines; Rosie and Nacho Man.


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“One of my very best hiring decisions ever” declares Debby Abel, President of Abel Personnel. “Barbara was a candidate with our company seeking employment. We presented her to a client, who did us a great favor and didn’t select her. Our recruiter working with Barbara commented that she might be a good fit for our Marketing Director opening. I met with Barbara, and instantly realized she would be a great asset for Abel. I am so happy that 20 years later we are still working together.”

Barbara grew in the Abel organization and ultimately transitioned to recruiting. She teamed with Barbara Isaacman, who mentored her development. The two soon became known as the “Barbaras.” Together they provided a high level of continuity and responsiveness to their joint clients and candidates; if one of them was tied up or out of the office when a client or candidate called, the other was typically able to take the call with a full background on the opening and candidate status. Barbara now models this same teamwork with a developing recruiter at Abel Personnel.

Over the course of those 20 years, Abel Personnel recruiter Barbara Karr has interviewed and placed thousands of candidates and filled the needs of client companies, large and small. Things have changed in those two decades: the power of computers, the growth of job boards, the evolutions of job duties, and remote work options. What remains constant is the need for true human connection and relationships. Barbara’s frank discussions with both candidates and clients through an open expression of caring continues to be her hallmark.

Two placements that exemplify her approach and typify the standards set by Abel Personnel:

  • Joellyn was a great candidate who was placed temp-to-direct with a fortune 500 company in 2009. Seven years later, Barbara was contacted by Joellyn when she sought a career change. Once again, Barbara found a great opportunity that was just right for Joellyn and for the client company. Joellyn and her employer are both happy seven years later and counting.
  • Brian was a young man with great potential, and he excelled when placed in a temporary position with a major central PA employer. He was about to be hired directly but a company policy changed and a mistake he made prior to this employment prevented that from happening. Brian moved on to some jobs that offered little hope for advancement. Barbara kept in touch with Brian and ultimately found a client had just the right opening for him. The client offered upward mobility and great benefits! Barbara was able to help her client visualize what a unique contribution Brian could make, to look past a youthful mistake. He has been there since 2015!

Barbara has a talent for matching clients with both current applicants and well-remembered past candidates, such as Brian, who are not actively looking but are open to unusual opportunities. However, Barbara’s achievements rest more on the key questions that she asks both clients and candidates that help them realize what are really the essential qualities they are looking for. She has made a difference in the success of Abel’s employer clients and the lives of Abel’s candidates by assisting them with advice, guidance and real opportunities. Abel Personnel and Barbara’s clients and candidates are indebted to her for this work.