Front desk assistants, also known as receptionists or information clerks, are responsible for answering incoming calls and directing guests to meetings and appointments. Often, they are the first person to greet guests and customers as they enter the door of hotels, companies and other establishments. The duties of a front desk assistant vary and depend on the industry they work in, as well as their level of work experience.
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Front desk assistants, also referred to as receptionists or front desk clerks, answer, route and screen telephone calls in physician offices, beauty salons, government agencies, non-profit and other types of organisations. Assistants may be responsible for checking in guests, collecting information such as insurance forms, processing transactions and scheduling appointments. They also schedule conference rooms for client meetings, provide guests with identification cards, and direct or escort guests to the appropriate office or department. Other duties include recording messages for employees, updating appointment calendars, filing documentation and handling incoming and outgoing mail.
Employers usually hire candidates with a high school diploma and knowledge of computer applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Some offices offer formal training that teaches candidates professional phone etiquette, guest check-in procedures, and how to receive, distribute and fax company information.
Front desk assistants and clerks should have good listening, interpersonal and customer service skills. Employers look for candidates who are professional, friendly and communicate clearly. Receptionists and front desk assistants should have basic computer skills and be familiar with office telephone systems. The ability to learn different office technologies and policies is helpful, since front desk assistants handle various tasks throughout the day. Front desk professionals should also be highly organised and able to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), receptionists and information clerks made a median wage of £7.60 per hour in May 2008. However, hourly wages differed across industries and employer type. For example, receptionist and information clerks' median hour wages were £8.90 in dentist offices and £6.0 in companies that offered personal care services. Indeed.com reports that the average salary for front desk assistants in the United States was £20,150 per year as of May 2010.
The BLS predicts that receptionist and information clerk jobs will increase 15 per cent between 2008 and 2018. Job growth will result from the expansion of industries such as health care, legal services, personal care services, technical consulting and construction companies that hire front desk professionals. However, the BLS also predicts that increasingly sophisticated technologies, such as telephone automation and voice mail systems, will reduce demand for receptionists. Nevertheless, front desk professions encompass a wide range of duties that are not easily replicated by machines or software, and will require the skills of clerical professionals. Job opportunities will be best for professionals with a variety of administrative and technology skills, and previous front desk experience.
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