About 6 years ago, I started to feel dissatisfied in the work I was doing. I was working for a company that, when I started, I thought was pretty impressive and unique. Because of some special projects I got to work on, I was actively and continuously engaged in the work I was doing. I was interested in helping make things better and the work I did was effective and well-received.
Believe it or not, I did several special projects while working as a receptionist. This is the way of things when you work for a very small business with under 10 employees. When the projects, which took up the vast majority of my time, were completed there was nothing else for me to do other than go back to being the receptionist. And I wasn’t interested.
At the same time as I was struggling with my position at this company, there were some borderline harassment issues that came up with one of the other employees. My supervisor had a major change in life and it brought with it the attitude to end all attitudes. And then came the day when there was a straw and a camel and the camel’s back broke. Fortunately, it didn’t break my back or my spirit. And I had the whole weekend to compose my resignation letter.
Before I left that company, I had known for roughly 6 months that I was through. It was a hard realization because I’d had such high hopes when I started. Despite knowing for that many months, my leaving was still quite abrupt. I remember seeing surprise on my supervisor’s face when I said I didn’t have a job to go to. The resignation was expected, but leaving with no job in place? That was not. I was far too organized to do something so wreckless.
But I did. And it was one of the best decisions I ever made. And I can say that now even after not having a full time job for 15 months afterward.
During my last two weeks, I actually started interviewing with a few companies right away. I remember sitting in an interview with an HR Manager and talking about the direction I wanted to go with my work. I thought I diplomatically but firmly stated that I didn’t want to work Reception anymore. The position I applied for wasn’t in Reception, so I felt I was in the clear, but she did ask the question.
Two weeks later, I found out why when she called to offer me a job as a floater. However, the job would start off with two months spent doing Reception. The salary was just shy of what I’d been making and the potential to move around in the organization was there, but I wasn’t willing to take the risk. I turned down the job.
Because it was Reception. And here’s a little-known secret about me and a HUGE part of why I hate working Reception: I don’t like talking on the phone. I think I actually burned out back in my teen years when I spent hours every day with the phone glued to my ear.
But wait! There’s more:
When you work reception, you receive everything - especially the bad. Clients upset? They take it out on you. Clients speak only French? They get mad if you only speak English. Clients want action now? They get mad when their contact is out of the office. And too few people have any respect for the position. In my experience, despite the intense patience, diplomacy, people skills and ability to juggle demands that is required, receptionists don’t get adequate respect from colleagues, clients and associates.
Apart from all of that, I have hard skills and abilities that are far more useful in other parts of an organization. Whereas my reception skills wear thin right about the time I get that third interruption of a phone call when I’m trying to get work done. Yeah, I’m definitely not reception material, though I have known some really exceptional receptionists who do the job proud.
Personally, though, I’d rather go to the dentist than ever sit at a reception desk again - and I have a major fear of the dentist (another post, another day).
So, what’s the one job in this world you would never do?