Receptionists work in a range of industries or work environments. Each has specific job requirements, but you can position yourself for success as a receptionist in virtually any setting. Present yourself as a capable, even-tempered administrative professional with strong computer systems skills. Knowledge of the company or industry in which you’re working or seeking a job makes you more attractive to employers. You need at least a high school diploma, experience dealing with a variety of people and strong time management skills.
1. Demonstrate complete professionalism at all times. A visitor’s first impression of a company often is formed by his interaction with the receptionist, so present yourself in both appearance and behavior in a way that reflects positively on the company. Greet visitors courteously and respectfully and behave in a friendly and efficient manner to help visitors gain a sense of confidence in the company starting with their initial visit. Wear tailored business attire that conveys a serious, polished image. Avoid distracting makeup or hairstyles and cover up tattoos and body piercings.
2. Stay calm even in the face of frequent interruptions. A receptionist typically is responsible for managing multiple tasks at the same time, all of which require strong communication skills and the ability to handle a fast-paced environment without getting rattled. Answer phones politely and promptly, take accurate messages and assist visitors with questions.
3. Keep current on personnel comings and goings so you know who is in the office and who isn’t. Stay up-to-date on basic information about the company, its products and services and whether there are vacancies or not, so you can handle incoming calls or drop-in visitors. And while it probably isn’t a requirement, knowing which other companies or offices are in your building enables you to be more helpful to people who get off the elevator on your floor by mistake.
4. Maintain strong communication skills: write legibly, listen carefully, speak clearly and avoid using slang. Never use profanity or coarse language in the workplace. If your company serves clients of other nationalities, developing basic foreign language skills improves your ability to communicate effectively and makes you a more valuable employee.
5. Keep your computer skills current and know how to use a variety of office equipment and systems — multi-line phones, fax machines and copiers, for example. Your office may also use proprietary email or other software tools, so be sure you master these promptly and stay up-to-date on upgrades or changes.
6. Be discreet at all times and protect the confidentiality of information you might learn during the performance of your duties. Do not repeat gossip or become embroiled in office personality conflicts.
7. Keep busy doing something related to your job, even during slow times. Doing your nails, eating lunch or reading magazines at your desk diminish your professional standing in the company and also send the wrong message to visitors and prospective clients. Instead, study manuals or practice to improve your systems skills, offer to assist busy colleagues or update hard copy or computer files related to your job.