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In a receptionist position, a person is responsible for running the front desk smoothly and efficiently while representing the company. After all, the first person you see when you walk into a business usually is the receptionist. In being an effective receptionist, a person needs to possess a strong grasp on administrative and clerical skills and interpersonal communication.
Know your way around a computer. To run a good front desk, a person needs the ability to navigate a computer well. A lot of being a receptionist involves answering emails, printing up weekly agendas and distributing notices to staff members. Some programs that are useful for receptionists to know include Microsoft Word, Office, PowerPoint, Excel, QuickBooks and Access. Typing quickly and with accuracy is also a plus.
Tackle problems head-on. A large part of being an effective receptionist is knowing how to handle problems efficiently and in a timely manner. Quick critical thinking skills are a must-have, whether you need to handle a printer paper jam or your boss being late for a critical meeting in another city.
Communicate effectively with others. Working front desk is an ideal position for people that possess friendly, bright personalities and strong interpersonal skills. The job is certainly not for the antisocial. To be a receptionist, you need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely with other people. It is also vital to always maintain a composed, relaxed and professional demeanor, no matter how hectic or overwhelmed you might be.
Use the telephone like a pro. At the front desk, the telephone needs to be your best friend. Receptionists spend a big chunk of the day on the phone, whether taking down messages for the boss, directing callers to staff members' individual lines or setting up conference calls. To work the phone properly, a receptionist needs to always speak in a polite tone, avoid eating while talking, refrain from using poor language and show a genuine concern in assisting the person on the other end of the line.
Display a keen sense of organization. Organizational skills are essential for operating the front desk well. Being a receptionist is all about multi-tasking. Sometimes, you may be responsible for handling a dozen things at a time, from keeping someone on hold to speaking with someone waiting for an appointment to sending out faxes and typing up invoices. The position can be chaotic, but a skilled receptionist needs to have the ability to handle it with ease.
Be flexible and accommodating. To shine as a receptionist, you need to have a willingness to take on new roles and go above and beyond, even if it is not part of your job description. If the intern is out for the day, and a big meeting is approaching, do not hesitate to go on a quick coffee run for the office executives.
Lars Tramilton has been writing professionally since 2007. His work has appeared in a variety of online publications, including CareerWorkstation. Tramilton received a bachelor's degree with a focus on elementary education from Kean University.