In many ways the receptionist is the glue that holds an office together. Depending on the company, the receptionist job description may include a heavy mix of working with the public and among internal staff. Receptionists can be responsible for greeting visitors, routing calls, and maintaining office supplies. They also have to track and organize mail, produce and send internal memos and take part in meetings.
Because of that, there are many formal and informal qualifications and skills found in the job description for this profession. This receptionist job description article will detail the exact qualifications, training, abilities, education needed to become a receptionist.
Job Overview: What Does a Receptionist Do?
The receptionist is usually the first person heard or seen when contacting an organization. Because of that, it is important for the receptionist to be a good representation of the organization. Having a good and positive personality, being neat and organized and having a friendly phone demeanor are necessities for the receptionist position.
Receptionists primarily work behind desks within private and public companies and organizations. The working hours mainly correspond with standard business hours.
Receptionist Job Duties
The duties that you will find on a receptionist job description include:
- Greet, welcome and direct guests and visitors in-person and on the phone
- Answer inquiries from the general public and route calls to appropriate staff
- Update appointment calendars, schedule meetings and appointments for staff
- Receive mail and packages, sort, organize and distribute appropriately
- Monitor and maintain office equipment
- Maintain inventory of office supply stock for the office
- Order and organize food and beverages for meetings, take notes during meetings
- Be aware of staff movements in and out of office, notify appropriate parties when staff members are out sick
Receptionist Essential Skills
Communication Skills. Because the receptionist is the first line of communication with the public, friendly, positive and effective communication skills are essential on various platforms. This includes the ability to manage multiple conversations, handle a fast-paced environment and maintain composure with various personalities. The receptionist will have to accomplish this through in-person, telephone and email interactions.
Organizational Skills. Receptionists must ensure that the office runs and operates smoothly. This is done by staying on top of office events, maintaining up-to-date schedules and appointments and making sure office supplies are appropriately stocked.
Interpersonal Skills. Receptionists must maintain good relationships with all employees. Because of that, being able to handle office politics, various personality types and maintaining communication ties within staff is important.
Problem-solving Skills. Because the receptionist handles organizational work for staff members, making a mistake can have reverberating consequences throughout the entire office. Having the ability to foresee issues and having the initiative to solve them limits inter-office issues.
Technology Skills. Receptionists must stay up to date on office technology. Having a fast typing speed, word processing, spreadsheet, multi-line phone system, email and internet research knowledge are vital in today’s offices and organizations.
Dependability. Because the receptionist is involved in most of the client facing communication and inter-office maintenance, dependability is extremely important. Every receptionist job description includes this vital aspect.
Becoming a Receptionist
Having the right experience, abilities and education are necessary in becoming a receptionist. The typical path includes formal education, skills acquired through hands-on training and certain people-oriented personality traits.
Qualifications and Training
While it is not always mandatory, having a college degree is useful in becoming a receptionist. The receptionist job description includes recommended courses, although they are not mandatory. However, more important than education are experience and technical certifications.
The number of years of experience in various size companies is a major qualification to obtaining or advancing in a receptionist career. Having years of experience in a large company will demonstrate the ability to work with a wide range of guests, visitors and employees.
Applying to positions with technical certifications like Microsoft Office 2013 applications, Salesforce.com or other CRM software applications will make a receptionist candidate look very desirable in the eyes of an employer. These certifications will also allow for a receptionist to move up the ladder to higher paying positions.
Events planning, email management and continuously learning new technology are also important elements for an advancing receptionist.
For those interested in entering the healthcare industry as a receptionist, the Electronic Health Records Specialist Certification is the premiere healthcare industry specific certification to obtain.
Work experience is one of the most important elements in becoming a receptionist. Most receptionist job descriptions will emphasize experience over education.
For students, this experience can come in the form of internships, volunteer work and spearheading on-campus events. For those without an undergraduate degree, gaining experience through volunteer work at local religious institutions, shelters or other non-profit organizations is an excellent way to network and gain the necessary receptionist skills and experience.
Landing a receptionist position without experience can be somewhat difficult. Therefore, it is highly advised to volunteer, intern or seek out temporary assignments where the core skill sets can be obtained.
The working hours for a receptionist are standard business hours. These hours will typically fall between 8:30 am – 5:30 pm.
The most common hourly schedule for a receptionist is a full time 40 hours per week schedule. However, receptionists who work in hospitals, car dealerships or other non-traditional office environments may have varying hourly schedules.
Job Outlook and Advancement Opportunities
The receptionist position has been projected to grow 10% from 2014 – 2024. Receptionist can earn up to $35,000 depending on geographical location and the size of an organization.
Obtaining more experience and skills in a specialized industry will allow a receptionist to advance and earn more money. The industry is highly competitive on the entry level. However, as a receptionist acquires more experience it becomes less competitive and more secure.
Through acquiring more experience, training and certifications, a receptionist may advance to the role of Administrative Assistant, HR Assistant, Executive Secretary or Executive Assistant.
With medical records becoming digitized along with the rate of growth of the aging population, the fastest growing area of consideration for receptionists is the healthcare industry.
Employment growth in smaller private companies is expected to become slower because many of a receptionist’s tasks can either be outsourced or automated through technology. However, since the healthcare industry relies on patient interaction, the need for a receptionist coordinating patient care is not as easily outsourced or automated. It is worth investing finances and time into becoming a more specialized receptionist regardless of whether it is in a public or private institution or company.
Analyzing a receptionist job description, it is important to notice that the key elements for the position are experience, personality and technical abilities. Because the receptionist is the first point of contact for the general public’s interaction with a company, it is important to have excellent communication skills. Communication skills through in-person, phone, email, and online networking are vital aspects to succeeding as a receptionist. Moreover, obtaining specialized certifications can provide a way to advance to other positions within an organization. Also, certifications can be an avenue for receptionist positions in other industries as well.