Everything You Need to Know About Being a Receptionist

2 Receptionist at the front desk with Christmas design

There is a high demand for top-quality receptionists today. Businesses in almost every industry need someone to manage their e-mails, scheduling, phones, and mail. Hotels need front desk clerks to process reservations, communicate with housekeeping, keep breakfast, drinks and snacks stocked and check guests in and out. Massage parlors need someone to schedule and follow up with booked appointments. Churches need someone to greet visitors and assist them if they need groceries, a utility bill paid or to schedule a wedding, funeral or pre-marital counseling.

Working at the front desk of an organization is a great job for someone wanting to get their foot in the door and advance while having great levels of responsibility. Front desk associates are ideal for organized, tech-savvy individuals with a great memory, time management skills and communication skills. If you want a rewarding career being the face of a company, keep reading to learn how to be the best receptionist possible.

What Is a Receptionist?

Receptionists are the gatekeepers of a company. They keep track of everyone going in and out, enforce security measures such as checking IDs, offering photo IDs and ensuring every visitor has been scheduled and approved for a visit in advance of his arrival. The front desk staff is the first face of the company people see and also the last one they see, so a good impression is crucial. Good receptionists keep themselves neat, clean and professionally dressed at all times. Here are some attributes of the best receptionists regardless of industry.

Technical Prowess

Reciptionist is using a computer

Front desk associates or clerks need to be comfortable forwarding calls, including conference calls, scanning, copying and printing documents in color, on two sides and in several sizes. They must be comfortable with word processing systems such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, Microsoft Outlook or Gmail. They must be proficient with industry-specific software, communicating on social media, such as managing the company's response to reviews, and publicizing upcoming events and desktop publishing.


Man is using a computer to work on something

As a front desk clerk, you may be pulled in several directions at once. You may be stuffing tax returns into envelopes when the incoming mail arrives, the elevator stops working, painters are arriving or the accounting team needs help to mail their bill payments. Organization and an excellent memory are critical for completing all your tasks even if you have to delay a few for a little while.


2 Gentlemen in the business is shaking their hands

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As receptionists are the face of any business, be it a doctor's office, church or hotel, professionalism is a must. You will be the first and last representation of a company someone sees, and you need to make a positive lasting impression. Keep your desk organized, so you can respond quickly to any needs and appear to care about your job and workspace. Keep yourself well-kept. If your business has regular clients, take the time to get to know them including their names. Then, greet them by name when they come in. This will make them feel welcome and keep them wanting to come back in the future.


Reciptionist on the front desk while other people is passing by

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay 

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As a receptionist, you need top-notch communication skills. People will be calling the main line of the company asking questions about hours of operation, current sales, product pricing, services and more. You need to be able to communicate effectively with anyone who calls and direct the call to the appropriate staff member if you cannot adequately answer a question. You need to be able to communicate policy changes to employees such as rules regarding smoking or on-site parking. You must effectively communicate with anyone who walks in the door, especially if they lack permission to be there.

Interpersonal Skills

2 Receptionist and their manager in the front desk discussing something

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Anyone can be taught written business communication. You must work well with others, take criticism gracefully and offer respectful, impactful feedback to management. Soft skills such as likeability and friendliness are of high importance in this role as you must make a good impression on everyone you come into contact with even if they are unhappy from the start. If you can turn negative situations into positives ones, you may be a great fit for this role.

Multitasking Skills

woman checking time on her watch

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You may be given several tasks at once which all "take priority" with different deadlines. You need to be detail-oriented, organized, driven, responsible and calm. Receptionists are often left unsupervised, so if you need help, ask. If you need to get payroll checks mailed while you are working on a special assignment from human resources, let your HR manager know you will need extra time or help to complete the task. Communication is key. Managers understand people can only accomplish so much within a limited time frame. As long as all of the relevant parties are informed, your superiors should be understanding and ask how they or their department can help you.

Job Duties & Responsibilities

The job duties and responsibilities of a receptionist include receiving and screening all incoming phone calls and transferring them to the correct employee. She warmly greets everyone entering and exiting the building including employees, maintenance workers, and customers. They assist everyone who comes to them with a question in a friendly, professional, helpful manner. They are required to schedule maintenance and construction projects and ensure waste removal companies come on time and complete their job. They also act as a liaison between employees and outsourced housekeeping or janitorial staff.




Career Path & Salary

A receptionist's career path depends on the industry. If you work in the hospitality industry for a resort or hotel, you may be promoted to hospitality manager, front desk manager or be responsible for an entire team of receptionists. Working in the healthcare or law field, this position is a great stepping stone to becoming a legal or medical secretary.

Career Path

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A receptionist position is usually a stepping stone to achieve a higher position within a company. Some people choose to move laterally to other types of positions such as sales associates, but the most common upward steps these individuals take include:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Administrative or office manager
  • Executive assistant
  • Office manager

From these positions, you can attain even higher positions within the company such as the executive assistant to the CEO, the senior executive assistant, or the office administrator.


Pay for this position depends on the industry and geographic location of the business. Front desk associates working in a dentist's office may make $14.67 per hour while one working in personal care services may make $9.65 an hour. Pay is also based on experience. As of May 2018, receptionists made, on average, $28,000 per year with some working part-time and others making much more.

Executive assistants make on average $37,870 per year. The average salary for administrative assistants is $40,588 with the typical range being between $36,318 and $46,098 based on data from September 2018. The average salary for an office manager is $53,528 with much higher pay occurring in large coastal cities and much lower pay occurring in rural towns. Spend a few years as an administrative assistant, and you can move up to the executive assistant to the CEO and make $59,236 per year.


Receptionists are a requirement in nearly every industry. Their pay varies based on location, industry, experience and other factors, but it is a great position to get your foot in the door with a desirable company, so you can transfer to a different position such as a sales associate or bookkeeper. The average pay for a front desk clerk is only $28,000 per year. However, if you show initiative for a few years, you can be promoted to a higher position such as an office manager with an average annual salary of $53,528. From there, you can continue to rise through the ranks in your company attaining higher salaries, more prestigious titles, and better benefits.

If you want to know if you would be a good fit as a receptionist, ask yourself a few questions. Am I organized? Am I excellent at time management? Do I juggle multiple important tasks well? Am I a "people person"? Am I tech-savvy? Do I communicate effectively? If you answered yes to the preceding questions, a job as a receptionist may be a good fit for you.

Featured Image by Irén Nemess from Pixabay

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