Having a cheery and chatty personality can feel like an under-valued or unwanted trait, but it's something lots of employers want.

A smiling face is really important in the world of the receptionists. Expected to be incredibly organised and friendly, this role is so much more than picking up the phones.  



So, what will I actually be doing?

Receptionists need to have an ear to the ground and be aware of everything that’s going in an organisation, from knowing which important meetings will be taking place to co-ordinating deliveries and organising travel arrangements for staff. You'll also often be the first person that employees and potential clients see, so you're always representing the company.

A receptionist’s daily tasks will involve:

  • Meeting and greeting clients
  • Booking meetings
  • Arranging couriers
  • Keeping the reception area tidy
  • Answering and forwarding phone calls
  • Screening phone calls
  • Sorting and distributing post

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The finer details... 

Pointing out the obvious, this is a desk-based job as the reception needs to be manned at all times. Your hours will depend on where you work: while a hospital receptionist is likely to work shifts, a corporate receptionist will work 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, so you're bound to find a company to suit your needs.

While you can't move from the reception desk, you can move up the career ladder quite easily. Receptionists often climb up through the ranks of the company they work for, just ask former Hewlett-Packard's CEO Carly Fiorina who once manned a front desk. With a little experience and hard work, receptionists can move to bigger companies and more supervisory roles managing a team of receptionists or take a side step into administration or HR.

Money, money, money

Starting salaries for rookie receptionists is around £12k while experience can take you all the way to £25k for a job as a senior receptionist.

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The good points...

"What I really like about this job is that I get to meet new people every day. It makes the job interesting and it’s really sociable" says Emily.

...and the bad

"Staff members change their minds on a regular basis with things like booking train times. It can get quite complicated and confusing!"

Is there study involved?

As with many roles in administration there are often no minimum requirements; however, employers will value GCSEs in English and Maths as well as proven IT skills. If you want to get some qualifications under your belt, there are plenty of courses that will give you the edge, including:

  • NVQ/SVQ in Customer Service, Levels 1 - 4
  • NVQ/SVQ in Business and Administration, Levels 1-4

There are more specific qualifications for receptionists working in industries such as beautyhospitality and health. Companies that deal directly with international clients will also value receptionists who can speak more than one language.

Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone

OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?

"You need great people skills, patience and be able to multi-task to be good at this job," says Emily Toomer who works as a receptionist for a busy publishing company. It also helps if you are:

  • Well-organised
  • Friendly and polite (manners cost nothing after all)
  • Efficient
  • Able to deal with difficult clients or customers (not everyone knows the manners rule)
  • Self-motivated
  • Good with computer systems
  • Have polished communication skills


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