April 11

Hiring the right receptionist – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about how you can prepare to hire a new receptionist by creating job descriptions and supporting documentation. In this post, I want to share with you some tips for advertising and how to maximise the number of suitable applicants for your role.

Step 2 – Advertise

Job vacancies
Businesses today have a multitude of options for advertising roles. Some options include:

  • word of mouth and referrals from your team
  • newspaper advertisements
  • internet job boards such as Seek or Careerone
  • your own website

You may like to consider hiring a trainee. In this case, you can contact training organisations who can help with sourcing, placing and managing the trainee.

As noted in my last post, you may decide at this point to engage a recruitment consultant. Based on the job description and your business requirements, a recruitment consultant will look after the advertising, review the applications and present you with a shortlist of suitable candidates. Yes, you do need to pay well for a good recruitment consultant, but if your time is tight, you may find it more economical to leave this step, and the next, to the experts.

Where to advertise

If you’ve decided to do the advertising yourself, then here are my suggestions for where to advertise:

  • Personally, I prefer word of mouth as a first step.  I simply put the word out to staff and business associates, explaining briefly what I’m looking for in a person, the hours and the location.  I’ve had mixed results in terms of the number of responses I get.  I can say however that the people I recruited this way ended up as long-term, loyal team members.
  • I’ve also used Seek.  This has the potential to bring in a high volume of applications which can be good and bad, but mostly good.  One role I advertised attracted 175 applications in 3 days.  And there was only little me to sort through them, so to help reduce the number of applications I had to sift through, I decided to employ a couple of tactics:
    • I ask for a cover letter. My advertisements even state that without a cover letter, “your application will not be considered”. It sounds tough, self-defeating almost. After all, I am looking for the best candidate, right? Here’s the reason – one of my key criteria is ‘attention to detail’.
    • The other tactic is to use the screening questions – I think you get to choose up to five as part of the base price.  If you’re willing to pay more, you can add more questions.  This works well, as long as the question doesn’t immediately give away the answer you’re looking for.  Some questions I’ve used include:
      • Have you previously worked on a busy reception desk or in a call centre?
      • Do you prefer your work day to be:
        • hectic & busy all day
        • hectic & busy at times, with downtimes to catch your breath
        • planned and organised so that you know exactly what to do next

      I don’t use these questions as the sole criteria for judging a candidate, however, their answers can give an insight into how they might fit into our work environment. If I end up interviewing the candidate, I have the opportunity then to explore why they answered the way they did.

They’re the methods I’ve used in the past, but I know other businesses employ a more direct approach, such as using social media.

Just remember though, regardless of how you advertise, you must observe your legal obligations especially when it comes to avoiding discrimination.

Designing your advertisement

Your advertisement needs to concisely describe the job, your business and the ideal person for the role. You’re one step ahead here if you have an accurate and sufficiently detailed job description. You can also use your business’s mission statement and values to help define the personality of your ideal person.

A few points worth noting here are:

  • DO:
    • include your business name and where the job will be based
    • describe the hours and days that you require the person – eg Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
    • specify if the role includes telephone and face to face customer interactions
    • note in the advertisement if you require the person to make outbound marketing calls on behalf of your business. Inbound and outbound calling are two very different skillsets and not everyone feels inclined to master both
    • clearly, state how you will accept applications eg via online (if using Seek) or email
  • DO NOT list requirements that are discriminatory such as gender, carer’s responsibilities etc

I’m not an expert in recruitment or HR/IR so the advice here is general in nature. Your specific circumstances may dictate the need for expert advice. If you’re unsure of anything, you should talk an appropriate authority on these matters. I hope this has helped, though. Part 3 will discuss how I assess, shortlist and interview the candidates.

If you’re interested in seeing how we can streamline your receptionist service for you, please click here. Any one of the Sohovian team will be happy to discuss our services with you.

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