Office and Admin Professional Development

6 Skills and Traits Employers Want in a Receptionist

6 Skills and Traits Employers Want In A Receptionist
Written by Joanna Hughes

Over one million receptionist jobs exist in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand for administrative professionals extends across most industries, from general practical medical clinics to Realtor offices. If you’re looking for a job as a receptionist, sharpen these seven skills to give yourself a competitive advantage.

1. Organization

Whether they’re booking travel arrangements for executives, populating spreadsheets with data, greeting visitors, or answering phones, receptionists must stay on top of their to-do lists. Sometimes this means moving from one task to another at a moment’s notice.

Exhibit your organizational skills by arriving for interviews on time. Take notes when you meet with employers to show that you value organization in your work life.

2. Friendliness

Receptionists serve as the public faces of the companies that employ them. They welcome visitors through the front door, offer guests refreshments, and connect callers to the appropriate party.

When interviewing for a job, show prospective employers your ability to put others at ease. A smile, a firm handshake, and a friendly personality help grease the wheels of employment.

3. Active Listening

According to “Psychology Today,” social media and other influences have shortened attention spans to as few as 20 seconds. A receptionist needs active listening skills to quickly process requests from visitors and superiors.

To improve your active listening skills, maintain eye contact with correspondents and ask clarifying questions. Remember the names of people with whom you speak and refer to them by name every so often to demonstrate your attentiveness.

4. Technology Adaptability

Several years ago, a receptionist who could create spreadsheets and respond to email could hold his or her own in this position. Now, however, receptionists use dozens of different software applications. They might manage their employers’ social media accounts or access web-based accounting programs.

With the wide variety of computer solutions available to employers, you can’t easily anticipate which program you’ll need to use on the job. Focus instead on familiarizing yourself with technology in general. Use the computer frequently and increase your comfort level with the user interfaces of different programs.

5. Memory

Have you ever walked into a business, such as your bank or supermarket, and responded with a smile when an employee greeted you by name? Memory skills serve receptionists well because a good memory allows them to respond to – and even anticipate – others’ needs.

If you suffer from frequent forgetfulness, start carrying a pad of paper and a pen wherever you go. Jot down notes to help you remember key details. Not only can you refer to your notes later, but actively writing down key information makes it more likely to stick in your mind. The U.S. Air Force reports that people remember 90 percent of the things they do (versus “75 percent of what they see and 20 percent of what they hear”).

6. Communication

Receptionists write emails, answer phone calls, dictate memos, and meet with customers. They articulate messages between colleagues and correspond with business associates. All of these activities require advanced communication skills.

If you struggle with communication, develop a familiar script for communicating with others. For example, when you greet visitors, use similar language to welcome them, ask them what they need, and invite them to sit down.

About the author

Joanna Hughes

Joanna Hughes is a freelance writer who specializes in business, human resources and the job market. She lives with her family in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire.