Female Receptionist handing over a clipboard to a Male and Female Customers

How to become a Receptionist?

Overview

Job Role Receptionist
Responsibilities Welcoming people into the building, delaing with phone calls, managing diaries, sorting post
Salary

£8.28 per hour / £16,152 per year


What do I need to do to become a receptionist? 

You’re the face of the company, and the first person a customer, colleague or visitor will meet. So it’s all about presentation, manner and the ability to multi-task. The phone might be off the hook, with deadlines fast approaching, but as the receptionist you’ve got to stay calm and patiently deal with whoever comes into the building.

Working as a receptionist is a great entry-level role. It will hone many transferable skills needed to progress in the administrative sector, or move on to a wide range of industries. The average salary for a receptionist in the UK is £16,152, according to payscale.com, and you can expect to work a 40-hour week.

There are many possibilities of where you could work as a receptionist and it’s worth noting that the type of company will affect the style of reception work you undertake, although the overall duties will be similar. From a local council’s entrance, to a school, or the front of a modern tech company, each workplace has a different feel. This will mean different types of people working there to interact with. Or, you could mostly be dealing with customers working on the front desk of a hotel or public services building.

While welcoming people into the building will always be your top priority, your first task of the day will normally be attending to emails. Throughout the rest of the day you will take and deal with phone calls, take guests to meeting or waiting rooms and sort the post. You may also be responsible for managing meeting rooms and diary appointments of your colleagues. Accepting external mail and parcels, recording deliveries and sorting internal post may also be down to you. This is especially true if there is no admin team or administrative assistant working in the company.

As with most jobs in the administration and secretarial industry, being organised is a key quality you’ll need, and be willing to develop. From the tidiness of your desk, to having systems in place to help the workings of the business run smoothly, being organised will be a useful tool. Think about the most effective and efficient way of dealing with your day-to-day tasks, assign places for things and always maintain a personal to-do list. It’s likely that you’ll be taking on this role from someone else so learn how they have done it, then see if you can improve things.

Communication skills are also essential for making a great receptionist. This will help you in all forms of contact, whether it’s on the phone, over email, in a typed letter or in person. Listening and responding in a clear and helpful way is an important part of your job.

There are no formal qualifications required for most receptionist roles. However, some do require specialist knowledge and training such as medical or legal receptionists, to ensure they can complete technical responsibilities that go with that role.

If you are able to, you could consider a business degree or business-related national vocational qualification (NVQ), which is a work-based qualification. Training provider City & Guilds has information on their website, and offer different levels of NVQ depending on your education and experience in the workplace.

Any experience in a customer-facing role will be great to include when you’re applying for a receptionist job. Talking to people face-to-face, understanding how you can help and dealing with difficulties in a professional manner are important skills to have as a receptionist.

This is a great role if you love interacting with people, problem-solving and helping others. Whether it’s catching the last post for a colleague, or helping a customer with their transport issue, you’ll enjoy the wide variety of things that land on you desk.

You’ll need to be friendly, approachable and take a flexible approach if you want to stand out in your role. It would be impossible to list every task you may come across in a job description, so be reasonable and do your best.

When starting out at a new company, learning people’s names, and maybe more importantly, who the big bosses are will put you in a good position later. If you’re being shown how to do something, or a complicated process, take notes for yourself and ask lots of questions. It’s important to show you’re eager to learn, and that you’ve listened carefully to instructions.

A lot of the skills you learn as a receptionist are transferable skills that will stand you in good stead for many office-based roles. One progression from the role of receptionist is to office manager. Especially in smaller workplaces, knowing the ins and outs of the company’s internal workings will make you an important person to have around. If you progress to office manager you may be directly assisting the CEO, looking after new employees, office supplies and maintenance, and processing company expenses.

You could also look at moving into other admin and secretarial positions such as personal assistant, administrator or secretary. This is also a great stepping-stone and invaluable experience for working in other sectors like human resources, marketing or project management.

A great part of a receptionist’s job is interacting with lots of people. No two days are likely to be the same, and if you’re self motivated you’ll push yourself to do better each day. You’ll feel glad when you learn to effectively deal with problems and issues that come your way, and enjoy a smooth working day. Even on tough days, it’s likely that you’ve helped at least one person that day so try not to dwell on it.

It can feel overwhelming when you start a new job as a receptionist, especially if it’s your first time in the role. There will be people coming to your desk, and calling from within the company and outside, and asking questions which you may not yet know the answer to. Deal with what you can, and then ask for help with the rest of the queries. If your manager isn’t there at the time, start a list of questions to ask them later. Just remember that everyone had to start somewhere regardless of what job they are doing now.

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