Each staff member of an organization plays a vital role in its success, including the person who's the first point of contact for clients and vendors — the receptionist. The buck may stop at the executive level of a company, but it starts at the receptionist's desk.
For this reason, employers value a top-notch receptionist who makes a favorable first impression. When seeking someone to hire for a receptionist job, they look for people whose interpersonal skills and professional demeanor positively reflect the image of the company.
Read more about the importance of strong interpersonal skills in OfficeTeam's research guide, Emotional Intelligence at Work: What It Is and Why You Should Care.
The responsibilities of a receptionist include handling incoming calls, greeting customers and performing basic administrative duties. If you have a knack for interacting with people, enjoy making new acquaintances and want to pursue a career in the administrative field, working as a receptionist may be the perfect job for you.
Following are some tips for helping you land your first receptionist job:
Write a cover letter
A cover letter gives you an opportunity to describe in more detail why you would be a good fit for this particular receptionist job. This is especially important if you have no previous experience as a receptionist. Include things like why you're interested in the company and cite examples of how your skills and technical proficiency would benefit the organization.
Click here for tips on writing an excellent receptionist job cover letter.
Hone your resume
A receptionist should possess basic computer skills, so highlight your proficiency with word processing, data entry and Internet research on your resume. If your technical skills also consist of a working knowledge of social media, include that too. Social media skills are a big plus for companies that depend on administrative staff to monitor and help run their online presence.
Research the soft skills needed for this receptionist job and emphasize your strengths as applicable. For example, the ability to communicate clearly and concisely is a sought-after quality in a receptionist. Specialized qualifications, like being multilingual, will likely earn your resume a place near the top of the stack. (According to the OfficeTeam Salary Guide, certain skills could also lead to a higher starting salary. Expert multilingual skills can boost starting pay by up to 12 percent.)
While we're on the topic of receptionist resume writing, consider enlisting Robert Half's staffing experts in your career search. We've been helping job seekers find great job opportunities since 1948.
Under work history, list any jobs that involved working with the public, even if they were part-time positions or internships during college. A candidate who's worked as a bank teller, sales clerk or food server, for instance, would interest an employer looking for a receptionist with sharpened people skills.
Prepare for your interview
Consider the wisdom of others who've gone before you for examples of questions hiring managers ask during interviews. Also be prepared with some of your own interview questions. Your inquisitiveness will not go unappreciated. For instance, instead of asking you to name your skills and strengths, an interviewer may phrase the question as, "What skills and strengths can you bring to a receptionist position?" By asking you to correlate your skills with the requirements of the receptionist job, an employer can gauge your level of interest and also tell how prepared you are for the interview.
As we've mentioned, have questions of your own to ask an employer to demonstrate your desire to learn more about the organization and the needs of the position.
Do some research to find out the company's dress code for receptionists, and then dress accordingly for your interview. Your attire should reflect the level of professionalism a hiring manager can expect from you if you get the job.
Excelling in your receptionist job can serve as a springboard to higher levels of administrative work. Follow the tips above to show an employer you've got the makings of a first-rate receptionist from the outset.