The receptionist is usually the first person you see when you walk into an organisation, or the first voice you hear when you make a phone call. But a receptionist does so much more than welcome visitors and answer the phone.

Yanna Van Theemsche, consultant at staffing specialist Walters People, explains what makes the job so interesting, how much you can earn as a receptionist and what career opportunities are available.

What exactly does a receptionist do?

"First of all, it is important to know that the job of receptionist is a bit different in every company. In some cases, the range of duties coincides with that of front-desk attendant or telephone operator, but often the role involves more than that.  Indeed, welcoming visitors and answering phones may be among your main duties. In addition, the receptionist is usually also involved in other administrative tasks such as organising meetings and scheduling them in the diaries, ordering office materials, following up purchase orders and invoicing, and is in close contact with suppliers. It is therefore a very versatile position. The human aspect involved is what makes this job so unique. You are the company's calling card, so to speak, because customers often come into contact with you first, before you refer them to the appropriate person," says Yanna.

Which education and skills are indispensable for a receptionist?

"A bachelor's degree is an asset, but certainly not a must to start working as a receptionist," Yanna knows. "But obviously there can be a difference in salary when you do have such a degree under your belt. As a receptionist, you are the link between visitors and employees. It is therefore essential that you are friendly to customers at all times, both face-to-face and on the phone. In addition, it is also important that you know the organisation inside out, and that you know what everyone's role is. This allows you to help customers quickly and correctly. Because you are in daily contact with different people, you must be able to express yourself fluently in different languages.  A good knowledge of Dutch and French is usually required. If you work for a large international organisation that often receives visitors from abroad, a good knowledge of English is obviously also indispensable. If your role also involves administrative tasks, good knowledge of MS Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) and possibly an ERP system is also required. Are you also responsible for the follow-up of quotations and invoicing?  Then you are obviously as orderly and precise as possible. Finally, a good receptionist is someone who can communicate smoothly and clearly to colleagues and managers, someone who is proactive and problem-solving."

What is the state of demand for receptionists in the Belgian labour market?

During the corona pandemic, the demand for receptionists was historically low, precisely because we were required to work from home in great numbers. But as soon as the measures around working from home were suspended, we saw the demand soar again: this year, the number of vacancies published was no less than 59% higher than the same period last year. Yanna: "This is mainly due to the fact that as a receptionist, you cannot really work from home. To welcome visitors, a physical presence is necessary. Now that people are working more from the office again, we have started to notice how much we missed that personal welcome."

What are the career opportunities for a receptionist?

The communication skills, language skills, and other skills you develop as a receptionist provide an excellent foundation for many other positions. "For example, you can perfectly grow into a purely administrative position, shifting your focus to other tasks such as invoicing and handling quotations, for example. If you have even more ambition and would like more responsibilities, you can eventually become team leader of the reception desk, if the team consists of several people, or even become office manager. That too is a very dynamic and exciting job. Among other things, you will ensure that everything behind the scenes runs smoothly. That means, for instance, keeping the office tidy, planning and organising meetings, providing support to the management, helping with events... As a receptionist, you will certainly have many options in your future career," says Yanna.

How much does a receptionist earn?

A receptionist with 0 to 3 years' experience can earn between 2,000 and 2,500 euros gross per month, according to the latest Walters People Salary Survey. Professionals with 3 to 6 years' experience within this role can expect to earn between 2,300 and 3,000 euros. Receptionists with more than 6 years' experience, can even see their gross monthly salary rise to 3300 euros. 

"The fringe benefits you can expect as a receptionist can again vary greatly from sector to sector. In almost all cases, you get meal vouchers in addition to a fixed monthly salary. In some organisations, you also get a representation allowance, hospitalisation insurance and/or group insurance. The fact that this benefits package is company- or sector-specific often brings along nice, unusual extra benefits. For example, extra discounts on products sold by the organisation," Yanna concludes.


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