Rosemary, Part Time Receptionist, 30s
Rosemary is a part time receptionist for a large water organisation. Previously she worked for a telephone company in a customer service type role that also involved training other telephone operators. This experience gave Rosemary the confidence to seek a job in reception where she would largely deal with the public over the phone.
What does a receptionist do?
After 15 years as a receptionist, Rosemary notices that the job has evolved over time: "The role of the receptionist has become more varied and changeable, and the job has become more clerical than it previously was."
She adds that the most satisfying thing about being a receptionist is the reward and recognition you get when helping customers, while the worst thing is probably the aggressive and nasty people that you occasionally will have to deal with: "It does happen that every so often you get abused on the phone. Things don't work so well all the time. It's just unfortunate that you remember each time you get a nasty person on the phone."
What's a typical work day involve?
Rosemary's day-to-day role doesn't vary greatly, but she does have a variety of tasks to complete each shift she works. These include things like answering and transferring telephone calls to other people, accepting deliveries, answering bill inquiries, handling all clerical work, computer database work and liaising with field staff and maintenance workers.
What sort of skills do you need?
If considering a career as receptionist, Rosemary suggests that you should have excellent people skills, a confident and happy approach when dealing with the public, patience and understanding: "Technically speaking, it's good if you are computer literate and have good customer service skills. Both of these can be developed on the job."
Finally, if considering reception work as a career, Rosemary advises, "Make sure you are happy and confident working over the phone with the public. And be prepared for change!"
What career opportunities are there?
Reception work is quite a flexible career to get into because you are able to find part or full time work with relative ease once you have some experience. And once you are a receptionist, there is some scope to advance into a supervisory and managerial role, depending on the organisation you work for, and your educational background.
"In the past receptionists were undervalued", Rosemary says. "But now that a lot of companies are shifting towards IVR (Interactive Voice Response - where machines answer your calls), people are starting to appreciate real receptionists more." She adds, "It's good to have a face and a voice that people can talk with rather than a machine that prompts you."
Find out more about a career as an office professional
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