One of the biggest discussion points I have always had with candidates just starting out their career is around starting on Reception or as Front of House.
Having started on reception myself like many of my contemporaries and a lot of my clients (for instance the Founder and CEO I most recently placed a very senior PA with, started their career on reception); I thought to write this article to clear up some of the common misconceptions of this very valuable role and highlight what a fantastic springboard it can be for your career.
No matter what career route you decide to go down, you might want to be the next CEO of Google or work in marketing and events; but what you might be finding is that any role needs basic office skills/experience and everyone needs to start somewhere. A reception role is a great springboard which doesn’t pigeonhole you and can actually help you get a step ahead.
A lot of candidates I speak to, especially when at the start of their career, are looking for progression within a company. Something I most definitely was also. A reception role doesn’t have to be forever…! It is just a great place to start your career.
Starting on reception is a fantastic steppingstone where you can learn the basic skills for any role, especially if you want to go down the PA route. You are the face of the company and get a huge amount of exposure. From my own experience, you are more likely to get involved in all departments and able to muck in in all areas of the business as you get noticed by being the face of the company. You also build relationships across businesses including the CEO’s, which in any other starting role, you are much less likely to. Increasing your chances of broadening your experience and getting promoted.
Another massive misconception is that a reception role is based at the bottom of a big building. Most of the reception roles I recruit for are actually sitting within teams and the Reception or Front of House title comes as you are the first point of contact for calls and visitors to their office. Don’t judge a book by its cover…!
What I would urge any candidate to do is ask the right questions rather than cast a shadow over all reception roles. Ask if there is progression, ask where the role is based, ask what other things you can get involved in. It is often not in the job spec! All you need to do when in a company is have a positive and can-do attitude, stick up your hand and say you would love to help organise the Christmas party, help with the office refurbishment, help with the re-design of the new website or their next marketing campaign. They will most likely, love the help!
Reception is often seen as the most important department in any company and there is a reason for this and it is often their most crucial hire.
What I would also suggest is to go to the interviews rather than again taring all roles/companies with the same brush as you don’t like the job title. See whether the company is a company you would like to work for. Whether this means that the company is well known and highly successful, or that it is young fun and buzzy; sometimes all you need is an ‘in’ to the right company and reception can be that perfect role.