Receptionists are responsible for providing assistance and information for an organisation or company. They are vital to their employers because they not only help maintain smooth business operations but also represent the company to the public. Those interested in this career are expected to have good opportunities, especially if they have a wide range of office and technological skills. Receptionists working in the medical or dental fields typically earn higher wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It is essential that receptionists have excellent customer services skills because they are the first point of contact for a company or an organisation. They are responsible for greeting visitors and directing them to the correct individual, office or department within an organisation. Receptionists use multi-line telephones to help the public as well as respond to callers' questions. They also set up appointments, particularly those that work for service businesses or health care facilities. It is vital that receptionists have strong communication skills and a high level of professionalism, as they may have to assist confused or angry members of the public.
Although receptionists primarily provide assistance to the public, many employers expect them to help the office run smoothly. They need solid clerical or office skills in order to meet this expectation. Receptionists should understand records management in order to effectively maintain files. They also need to be able to sort incoming and outgoing mail, coordinate staff schedules and oversee the scheduling of meetings or events. Some receptionists need bookkeeping skills as well, according to BLS.
Working with computers and other office equipment is a major part of receptionists' job. They often use multi-line business phones, fax machines, printing calculators, photocopiers and postage meters. As an increasing number of companies and organisations go paperless, computer skills become even more important for receptionists. For example, they may need to access electronic patient records if they work for a health care facility. Although basic tasks such as sending e-mails and typing documents in word processing programs are expected of receptionists, they also need skills in other computer programs. They may be required to work with database or spreadsheet applications. Some companies have scheduling software that receptionists must use to arrange appointments. Receptionists who have bookkeeping duties should have proficiency in their employer's chosen accounting software. In addition, they should be comfortable working with the Internet in order to research topics, people or places quickly.