Many people want an opportunity to become part of a management team and enjoy the privileges and prestige it offers. One way to establish credibility and competence that can pay dividends in the future is to enter an organization at the ground level.
Businesses and organizations typically have a person available to meet individuals visiting the location. The names for this position are varied; for example, the Occupational Outlook Handbook identifies this job opportunity as receptionists and information clerks. Other titles commonly used are greeter, service representative, and office assistant.
Receptionists are considered highly valued members of an administrative team. Some important responsibilities managed by a receptionist may include operating a telephone switchboard, answering and forwarding calls, sharing information, taking messages, scheduling appointments, greeting clients, escorting visitors to their meetings, maintaining schedules and calendars, fielding concerns and customer complaints, and record keeping. Effective receptionists have strong communication skills that affect business bottom lines.
The receptionist is the face of the organization and must have a pleasing appearance and a friendly welcoming attitude. Individuals who excel in this job are positioning themselves to assume greater responsibility as they learn to use tools and technology, master a number of communication mediums, and use the computer to help create documents and other essential data. A receptionist should have good speaking skills and knowledge of the English language as well as a second language in some areas. Customer service and diplomacy are often the critical abilities that can spell success in a fast-paced environment and allow one to rise in the ranks.
Certainly, having exceptional listening skills and reading comprehension are essential. Often people will make inquiries that require knowledge of goods and services provided. Managing calls and directing individuals correctly can have a huge impact on the success of many companies.
In a tongue-in-cheek comment about receptionists, journalist Doug Larson said, “Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.” While the impossible may seem daunting to some, others adopt the growth mind-set. The “growth mind-set” is the perspective that allows people to view difficult situations as an opportunity for improvement and development. When individuals are asked to manage a project, instead of seeing it as insurmountable, they choose to see it as an opportunity to exercise their leadership skills and become better at their jobs.
While the majority of receptionists, 67 percent, have only a high school diploma, many individuals are being trained at their community college to acquire the skills necessary to advance into an administrative assistant’s position more quickly than individuals without prior training or internship experience. Receptionist have great influence in an organization and are able to build strong networks of influence as they become acquainted with the essential tasks that individuals perform.
New receptionists should consider this word of caution while in training. According to a recent Harris Poll of 1,120 employees, “Over a third (37%) of America’s business leaders report they are uncomfortable having to give direct feedback/criticism about their employee’s performance that they might respond badly to.” The advice of some experienced receptionists is to engage in the business quickly and make yourself indispensable and leave your cell phone off until your breaks unless this is the way your boss communicates with you. Do not expect your boss to correct you when you are making mistakes. If you are serious about assuming greater responsibility, commit to your job and do your best work each day to uncover opportunities for advancement.
Solomon, Lou. “Many Leaders Shrink from Straight Talk with Employees.” Interact Authentically. Interact, Feb. 2015. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://www.interactauthentically.com/new-interact-report-many-leaders-shrink-from-straight-talk-with-employees/>.