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A receptionist is an employee taking an office or administrative support position where they are typically employed by an organisation to meet and greet clients and answer telephone calls. They are responsible for making a good first impression for the organisation, in order to promote a successful business.

However, the role can often be a lot more varied than you would expect Receptionists cover many areas of work to assist the businesses they work for, including setting appointments, filing, data entry and record keeping.

What would I be responsible for?

The business duties of a receptionist may include answering client or visitors’ enquiries, directing visitors to their destinations or appointments, organisation of incoming and outgoing mail, answering incoming calls on multi-line telephones, setting appointments, filing, record keeping and data entry amongst other general office administration duties. Some receptionists may also perform bookkeeping duties.

A receptionist is often the first business contact a person will meet; it is an expectation of most organisations that the receptionist maintains a composed, courteous and professional demeanor at all times.

What are the standard requirements?

  • Customer-service skills: A successful receptionist will be friendly, organised and knowledgeable about the company.
  • Computer skills: You will need to answer emails, use the phone system, create and manage schedules, complete data entry and possibly learn industry specific software.
  • Communication skills: Listening to customers and management, speaking in a clear and welcoming way over the phone and face-to-face are essential skills for receptionists.

 Essential skills needed to succeed…

Some personal qualities that a receptionist is expected to possess in order to do the job successfully include attentiveness, a well-groomed appearance, positive attitude, initiative, ability to multi task, loyalty, discretion and dependability.

When the phone goes unanswered during normal business hours, or a line of impatient customers waits in front of the empty reception desk, it reflects poorly on the business. A receptionist is counted on to be at the desk on time in the morning, be prompt returning from lunch, answer correspondence quickly and give precise, consistent information about the company to all queries.

At times, the job may be stressful due to the interaction with many different personalities, and being expected to perform multiple tasks quickly, so it is important that you can work well in a high-pressured environment.

What if I am just starting…

Hiring standards vary by industry and company, but generally you will only require a high school diploma to start as a receptionist. Most training is received on the job, but prior knowledge or experience of how to answer telephones professionally, spreadsheets or other office administrative tasks is preferred.


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