Thursday, January 29, 2009

Being A Good Receptionist: Part 2

As I have mentioned in other posts I am a receptionist and administrative assistant for a growing company. My tasks day to day vary largely but mostly come down to a few things: 1) being polite and courteous, 2) being knowledgeable about the company I work for, and 3) being open and available to help out almost all of the time.

The second thing on my list is a little bit more complicated and usually comes down to experience and a willingness to gather information. You will get questions from callers about the company and for different people and sometimes people are going to need to get the answers from you. If you are a temp it would be understandable for you to not know how to answer every question that comes to you, but it’s more important to know who to go to in order to answer those questions. And of course, it should go without mention that the longer you are in a certain position/ office the more you should know about it.

Lastly, your job as an administrative assistant is, by its nature, to assist. Learn how to prioritize, and who to prioritize for. I am an admin. for the entire office, and my office my tasks are based on first come first serve basis for all but one VP. Also, I’ve been given the right to say “no” when a project comes along that I don’t have time for. I love that. It is not secret that to be an admin. you need to be a organized person, if you aren’t become one. Make lists, create a filing system for your tasks, and know where and what they mean.

All in all the most important parts of being a receptionist and administrative assistant come down to personality, knowledge, and organization. Even if your goal isn’t to be the best receptionist to grace the office system, it could be an opening in to another position if you work it right.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Being A Good Receptionist: Part 1

As I have mentioned in the past I am a receptionist and administrative assistant for a growing company. I have been working in this office for a year and a half now, and I started here as a lowly temp in a completely separate position. I often caught a glimpse of the girl that they had at the front desk, and at the time it always seemed to me like she could care less about the job or the company. I remember thinking to myself at the time “how could she have this job?” She looked miserable, unprofessional, and as if she didn’t care. Turned out that she didn’t last long, and I was asked to take the job because I had demonstrated that I was a hard worker in my temp position. In other words: that when the receptionist is unhappy and unprofessional it presents a bad first impression of the company.

Let’s look at it from the other side – the guest. The guest comes in to interview for a job opening and is dressed in a suit and tie and greets the receptionist who is wearing ratty jeans, a t-shirt and a zip up hoody. How does that look to the guest? It looks like an unprofessional office or maybe even makes him feel over dressed. All in all he feels uncomfortable already and maybe he’s thinking this isn’t the kind of office he thought it was. Even if the office is casual with no strict dress code, as mine is, the receptionist should dress on the nicer side of business casual to be, if nothing else, an equilibrium between the company and the guest. The executives in my office frequently wear jeans and a polo shirt if they have no outside meetings that day but I always make it a point to wear dress slacks or well tailored jeans and a blouse.

Another first impression about the company is formed by the guest when the receptionist greets them. This one should be obvious: Smile, say “Hello, how can I help you?” and go from there. It is not too hard to be nice to someone who you will like only interface with for ten minutes or so. I like to update the guest on the status of the person they are meeting with: “They will be right up.” Or “He/she is finishing up a meeting/ phone call and will be with you shortly.” Just so the guest knows if they will be waiting a tremendously long time or not.

The front office area is the domain of the receptionist. Take care of the people that come through it to the best of your ability because you never know when it could benefit you.

Read more in Part 2.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Bibliophile's Dilemma

As 2009 loomed around the corner I had decided to abstain from the annual tradition of having a New Year’s Resolution. This decision came mostly as a result of my own cynicism and a deep seeded bitterness that “they never really work out anyway”. In past years my resolutions have been either loosely worded with vague meaning (i.e. “I will take better care of myself.”), or something that I have been working on for a long time (i.e. “I will try to buy more organic produce.”) and would likely continue to work on it with out any though to “that’s my resolution!”. In the end, like most resolutions and attempts to better one’s own life, they work out or they don’t. So we can’t say that I necessarily resolved to not make a resolution, because that’s just silly, but the fact that it’s the beginning of a new year and the fact that I stumbled upon this article has sparked a thought in me.

It has been a goal of mine, as it is with many bibliophiles, to read the classics. I am sad to discover that I have only read a mere eight books on that list. At least four of the books were in the top ten. I want to increase the number of books on the list that I have read, but it is not going to happen easily – I am a slow reader and am part of a book group that tends to read more recent publications. On top of that it is impossible for me to read two fiction books at the same time – I tend to get the plots confused. (I know what you’re thinking how did this woman graduate from college with an English degree? Very careful planning. ) I know, I know it’s all the same excuses to not accomplish the aforementioned goal, but I didn’t set a time line on it, nor did I necessarily resolve to do it. Just because I want to at some point accomplish this, and it just happens to be at the beginning of a New Year, that doesn’t make it a resolution. Right? Perhaps purely by my say so it is not a resolution but more of a desire for accomplishment.

Now my internal devil’s advocate says, who dictated that those books find their way to the list of top 100 books of all time? I am sure that these choices were based upon some literary prowess based on style, plot development, word usage, and proper punctuation, but you have to know that someone somewhere would disagree with their choices. It looks like Time Magazine did on a few. So then, what is a book lover to do? Follow someone else’s arbitrary list, or determine one of my own?
That’s it. I know exactly what my non-resolution for 2009 will be. I will read whatever I want to read.