The Definitive Guide: How To Become a Receptionist
Published: 16 Nov 2017
If you have great people skills and you just love the idea of a customer-facing job, a receptionist is the perfect role for you.
Take on a job like this and you could find yourself working anywhere from a hotel to a spa, or even a casino. There’ll never be a dull moment as a receptionist, but it can be a high-pressured job and you’re likely to be on your feet for some, if not all, of the day.
If you’ve ever considered becoming a receptionist then you’ll love this handy guide, which gives you all the details you’ll ever need to know about entering the profession and making your mark.
Find out what kind of salary you’ll be on, as well as the hours you’ll be expected to work – and a whole lot more. Your ultimate career guide, this lengthy article will be the only thing you’ll need to refer to if you’re keen to become a receptionist. Read on…
What is a Receptionist?
So, what does a receptionist do day-to-day. Okay, so most of us have got a pretty good idea, but are you certain that you know everything the role entails?
Working as administrative clerks in a variety of office settings or leisure companies (such as spas or gyms), receptionists’ duties may vary slightly from company to company. In general, a receptionist – whether for a gym, beauty salon, hairdressers’ or block of offices – will answer and transfer incoming calls and provide general assistance to anyone walking through the door.
On top of all that, as a receptionist you may also be in charge of ensuring those in the building receive their mail. You may also deal with outgoing meal, as well as faxes, photocopying and any other communications.
As you’re typically the first person a visitor will see upon entering a building, it’s important that you always look and act professionally. While work can be stressful, you’ll be expected to remain calm and collected and display a friendly manner to all customers.
Good listening and customer service skills will be required and you’ll also be a good organiser. It’s important that you understand various computer-based applications, too, such as Microsoft Word and Excel.
Hours of Work
As a receptionist, what kind of hours will you be expected to keep?
If you’re an office-based receptionist, you'll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. In some cases, you might have a longer lunch and work until 5.30pm.
Weekend and evening shifts may be required, particularly if you work for a hotel or a restaurant.
If you’ve ever wondered what a receptionist does day-to-day – aside from answer calls and greet guests – then this is the section for you!
Your day-to-day tasks may include any or all of the following:
- Greeting visitors
- Transferring calls to the right colleague
- Managing the visitors’ book
- Giving out security passes
- Booking travel and accommodation
- Answering customer service queries by email or phone
If you’re a receptionist in, say, a dentists’, you may also be required to take payments from customers.
Key Receptionist Qualifications
So, what qualifications do you need to be a Receptionist?
If you’re thinking of becoming a receptionist, the good news is that no formal qualifications are required. It may be beneficial to have GCSEs in Grades A* to C in English and maths, but it’s not a requirement, as such, for most roles like this.
Experience working on a reception desk, or in another customer-facing role, will be valued over qualifications in most cases. Plus, if you’ve done any volunteer or charity work, it’s important to add this to your CV too.
If you’d like to get a qualification or two under your belt before applying for a job as a receptionist, consider doing a business administration course. You might also find that a relevant job comes up via an apprenticeship.
In all cases, you’ll have to undergo a thorough background check before entering a customer-facing role like this, but it’s nothing to worry about and usually doesn’t take too long.
Be aware that while you don’t need any formal qualifications, many employers will prefer someone who has some experience in an administrative role.
If you’d like to go down the qualifications path, you could earn a certificate in clerical studies or office assistance. Courses like this will cover everything from switchboard operation to payroll accounting, customer service and office management, and they’re a good all-rounder for anyone of any age.
Want to try a course like this? Keep an eye out at your local college and be aware that you’ll need to take plenty of time out of your schedule to attend classes and complete any homework.
There are also several online training options; even watching a few YouTube videos on various Microsoft Office programmes will stand you in good stead if you’d like to become a receptionist. It may be that the job advert doesn’t suggest that you’ll need an understanding of such programmes, but consider how much more confident you’ll feel if you’ve swatted up regardless.
Vital Receptionist Skills
We’ve briefly mentioned a few key skills you’ll require for a job as a receptionist; here are just a few:
What is a Receptionist's Salary?
How much can you expect to earn as a receptionist?
A starting salary, based on full-time hours, can be anything from £14,000 to £16,000, with experienced receptionists earning up to £19,000.
Salaries may be slightly higher in some companies, but these figures serve as a guide for those interested in knowing how much money they can expect to take home each year.
How To Become a Receptionist
By now you’ve probably decided that a receptionist role is the one for you – and the good thing is that this kind of job crops up quite often on online jobs boards like ours. The reason for that is that almost any big company has a reception desk, which means that there’ll be plenty of firms who need someone to sit behind it!
If you’d like to become a receptionist you can look for a role anywhere from a publishing company to a charity or GP practice. When putting your CV together or applying for a role online, though, always ensure that you add in all your relevant experience.
Different employers will be looking for different skills, but in general administrative experience and good communication skills will help you bag an interview. Before you apply, go through the job description with a fine-toothed comb, picking out any areas you can expand on within your CV.
Does the company want to know that you have sufficient Microsoft Office experience, for instance? If so, don’t neglect to include this in your application.
Perhaps you’re looking to apply for a short-term contract on a reception desk as a means of saving up funds or getting your foot in the door of a large company you’d like to work for. This is a great way to get a good feel for a business and how it works; by getting to know your colleagues and the management you’ll also have a better chance of being considered for other roles that crop up within the company.
So where do you find receptionist jobs? Keep an eye online and check in your local library or jobs centre. You’ll find that work like this comes up quite often, but there’ll always be a fair bit of competition too.
The best thing to do to give yourself a good chance at interview is to make sure you know your stuff when it comes to new software and IT advancements. It may be the only way the employer has of differentiating you from the next candidate, after all. Display a willingness to learn and a passion for people too and you’ll also be on the right track to becoming a great receptionist.
Don’t have the skills you need? Think about taking an evening course; it’s a great way to meet new people and it’ll give you the edge in an interview.
How To Develop Your Receptionist Career
Unless you’re nearing retirement, you probably wouldn’t take on a role that offered little to no career progression. But by becoming a receptionist – and being successful within your role – you can open doors to a whole new set of opportunities.
So, what can you do after you’ve spent some time working as a receptionist? You may go on to work for an even larger company, or you might decide that you’d like to work within an office full of people, rather than on your own on the front desk.
You might also realise that you’d like to retrain – as a medical secretary or a personal assistant, for example. In no time at all, you could become an office-based admin assistant. This is ideal if you’d like to experience more of what the company does day-to-day in a bid to aiming even higher and going for another position later down the line.
Did you enjoy this guide? Keep an eye on the Leisure Jobs site for more like this.
So there you have it; everything you need to set out on the road to a new Receptionist career!
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