Receptionist Job Description - Responsibilities, Skills, Tasks and Career Path
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Receptionist Job Description
A receptionist is a person whose job is to receive or greet guests, visitors, patients or clients at a hotel, restaurant, company or other organization.
Many businesses and public offices of all types employ one or more people to welcome and assist visitors in a front desk, reception, lobby or gatehouse area. While receptionists are commonly found in hotels and tourist resorts, they are also employed in a wide range of other settings, such as in restaurants and other food service establishments, private businesses, public institutions (e.g. hospitals), professional practices (for example, medical surgeries and law, accounting and architectural firms), in office blocks and at gyms, hairdressers and beauty salons.
As the first point of contact for visitors, receptionists are the face of the organization employing them. It is therefore essential for them to have a kind, polite demeanour and to deal with enquiries in a positive and helpful manner. The aim of a receptionist should be to create a good first impression on visitors, which is why many companies and organizations have specific rules regarding their attire.
Receptionists have a wide range of duties, including receiving and greeting clients, guests and visitors, answering enquiries in accordance with internal guidelines, providing visitors with directions or accompanying them to their destination (e.g. an office, room, or department), enforcing access control procedures and generally helping to maintain security.
Receptionists also carry out a number of administrative and secretarial tasks, such as answering and forwarding incoming telephone calls, receiving and processing emails and letters and dealing with and filing documents and other paperwork.
In some cases, receptionists may also be required to provide support and assistance to colleagues and managers. For example, in larger companies, they may be responsible for coordinating meeting room schedules, providing visiting clients and suppliers with ID badges and arranging for visitors to be accompanied to their destination. In hospitals, clinics and medical practices, a receptionist’s tasks may include maintaining doctors’ diaries and arranging appointments, recording patients’ personal details and directing them to the appropriate waiting area.
Many job vacancies for receptionists are in the tourism and hospitality industry, where the work available is often seasonal. Receptionists employed in hotels are responsible for receiving and greeting guests, assigning rooms, managing bookings (e.g. using hotel management software), handling guest check-in and check-out procedures and performing cashier duties. They also receive and forward telephone calls, deal with enquiries (e.g. requests for information on prices) and handle any complaints.
The typical working hours of a receptionist depend on the opening times of their place of work. Companies, offices and professional practices, for example, often operate a standard Monday to Friday timetable, whereas in hotels, restaurants and other businesses that are open in the evening, the working hours may vary considerably and involve a greater degree of flexibility (e.g. shift work).
Other common names for this position: Front Desk Agent
Receptionist Responsibilities and Tasks
The main duties of a receptionist include:
- Receiving and greeting visitors
- Dealing with information enquiries
- Answering and forwarding incoming telephone calls
- Accompanying visitors to their destination
- Receiving and processing correspondence (e.g. emails and letters)
- Organizing and filing documents and paperwork
- Handling bookings
- Scheduling appointments and meetings
- Performing additional administrative tasks
How to Become a Receptionist - Training and Requirements
To become a receptionist does not require extensive training or education. As a customer service role, what it does call for, however, are strong communication and interpersonal skills and an aptitude for working with the public. Aspiring receptionists can acquire the basic skills they need by attending a training course for secretarial and administrative personnel or, alternatively, by gaining some form of diploma or qualification from a hospitality or catering school (particularly for those interested in working as a receptionist in a hotel, restaurant or tourist resort).
Generally speaking, receptionists also need to have basic IT skills, including the ability to use email and the most common office software applications. Once they have been hired, receptionists typically go through an initial period of on the job training, during which they learn how to use the organization’s computer software systems and management tools and familiarize themselves with company procedures for forwarding telephone calls and post, organizing meetings and appointments, making bookings etc.
Finally, another of the skills that employers most frequently ask for in job advertisements for receptionists is a knowledge of foreign languages. The ability to communicate in one or more foreign languages is especially important in hotels and restaurants with an international clientele but, in this increasingly globalized age, it is also a key skill for receptionists employed in public and private organizations of all kinds.
Receptionist: Skills and Qualifications
The skills required for a job as a receptionist include:
- Knowledge of the principles of customer care
- Communication skills (e.g. telephone, e-mail, in person)
- Ability to use common office IT equipment and management software
- Basic administrative/accounting knowledge
- Aptitude for public-facing roles and kind, helpful manner
- Ability to multitask
- Attention to detail
- Problem-solving skills
Receptionist Career Path
A job as a receptionist is an excellent path to a career in the customer service sector, which offers a broad variety of subsequent professional development options.
For example, a receptionist employed in a hotel can choose to specialize in bookings and reservations or in receiving and greeting guests and progress to become a reception manager - a role that can often be a springboard to a position as hotel manager. Receptionists working for a company, professional practice or in another type of office, meanwhile, have the option of honing their administrative skills and becoming a secretary, personal assistant or executive assistant.
Finally, it is important to remember that the customer care skills acquired as a receptionist are easily transferable to a wide range of other roles and positions (e.g. customer care / after sales service manager or hostessing at conferences and meetings).
Top Reasons to Work as a Receptionist
As an entry-level position, a job as a receptionist offers the benefit of ease of access, which means that it is open to candidates with no experience. It also offers the opportunity to play a key role in a company or organization. As the first point of contact for visitors and clients, receptionists are responsible for making a good first impression and this can often set the tone for future relations between the organization and the client.
Working at the reception of a hotel. restaurant or company business is also an excellent way to gain familiarity with and experience of office work. It offers the chance to perform a wide range of tasks, including greeting clients, handling bookings, resolving guests’ problems, performing access control procedures, taking and forwarding telephone calls and invoicing, and is also an opportunity to build a repertoire of soft skills that can be employed in a wide range of other sectors, including administration and customer service.