A City Hall receptionist sits at the front and center of the hub of operations for a municipality, so the ability to handle a wide range of people and requests is crucial to the position. In big cities with multiple departments and a large staff, it isn't a job you can get straight out of high school, but you don't necessarily need a college degree and years of work experience to land the job.
A high school diploma or GED is typically required. A few relevant classes taken at a community or vocational college increase your chances for employment. For example, advanced computer software classes and a course in business writing give you skills you will use as a receptionist. Earning a certificate in office administration can help with future advancement opportunities and the more education you have the less work experience you might need.
While a receptionist position is generally an entry-level job, most hiring managers want to see some work experience on your resume. Working in a City Hall is typically fast-paced and sometimes stressful as you deal with busy phones and many visitors with diverse needs and requests, so you need to demonstrate that you can cope. A year at a job with high-level customer service, such as in retail, can help. Working as a receptionist for a small company before applying at City Hall can teach you the work skills you need, as training is done on the job. You might find that you gain valuable skills by signing up with a temporary agency and working at multiple jobs. Agencies often offer free training to their employees in advanced computer and clerical skills.
People often call City Hall with a specific problem without knowing whom they need to speak who can solve the problem. You're expected to know what city department handles that issue, so an in-depth knowledge of how your city government runs is vital. Most cities have a website that lists departments and personnel that you can study. Attend city council meetings and any classes or seminars for the public offered by the city. Your job training will likely cover much of this, but the more you know about government, including how your city interacts with county and state government agencies, the more likely you are to get the job.
Excellent customer service and communication skills are mandatory for a receptionist. People are not always happy when they contact City Hall, so you must be comfortable helping calm people down and answering their questions. Working as a volunteer for any group where you're dealing with the public, such as at a food bank or helping with crowd control at public events, looks good on your resume. Make it clear in your interview that you're comfortable with technology, such as multiple phone lines and office machines.
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