Win­dow of op­por­tu­nity

The Advertiser - Careers - - Front Page - LAU­REN AH­WAN

NEW op­por­tu­ni­ties for ca­reer ad­vance­ment are emerg­ing for the state’s of­fice and ad­min­is­tra­tion work­ers.

Of­fice pro­fes­sion­als are in­creas­ingly be­ing pro­moted be­cause of the skills and ex­pe­ri­ence they have de­vel­oped and the fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams staff have com­pleted.

A sur­vey finds 64 per cent of of­fice staff are not happy in their work­place and are look­ing for an­other job, but many are fail­ing to see the op­por­tu­ni­ties with their cur­rent em­ployer.

RE­CEP­TION­ISTS are be­ing urged to look for op­por­tu­ni­ties for ca­reer pro­gres­sion af­ter a re­cent sur­vey found many are un­happy and con­sid­er­ing res­ig­na­tion. A sur­vey of more than 400 Aus­tralian of­fice pro­fes­sion­als by tem­po­rary re­cruit­ment firm Of­ficeTeam has re­vealed re­cep­tion­ists are the most un­happy of all ad­min­is­tra­tion work­ers, with 64 per cent ac­tively seek­ing or think­ing about a new job – a far higher pro­por­tion than of­fice man­agers or per­sonal as­sis­tants. The main rea­sons for be­ing dis­grun­tled are a lack of ca­reer devel­op­ment and in­suf­fi­cient pay. The Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Of­fice Pro­fes­sion­als says pro­mo­tions are avail­able for of­fice work­ers want­ing a change. The in­sti­tute’s na­tional pres­i­dent Pat Kriel says she is an ex­am­ple of what re­cep­tion­ists can achieve. Ms Kriel be­gan her ca­reer as a part-time re­cep­tion­ist for a New Zealand law firm and sev­eral years later is now ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant to Ade­laide City Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Peter Smith. She also has worked as a para­le­gal – a po­si­tion she was of­fered af­ter the law firm dis­cov­ered she could do short­hand. ‘‘Re­cep­tion­ists should be en­cour­aged to look out­side the square and look out­side the bound­aries of be­ing a re­cep­tion­ist,’’ Ms Kriel says. ‘‘If you are stag­nat­ing (in the role of re­cep­tion­ist) then speak to some­one within your HR depart­ment or man­age­ment and see if there’s any­thing else (on of­fer). ‘‘Even if you are still in a re­cep­tion­ist role but in a dif­fer­ent area (depart­ment di­vi­sion), there are ways of still do­ing the same job but get­ting to see things from a dif­fer­ent as­pect.’’ Ms Kriel says re­cep­tion­ists per­form a valu­able role that of­ten is over­looked by col­leagues. ‘‘There’s scope for you to make peo­ple feel wel­come. Your pre­sen­ta­tion is a re­flec­tion of the rest of the of­fice,’’ she says. ‘‘As a re­cep­tion­ist, you will be deal­ing with the bi­cy­cle couri­ers that don’t know where to go, the peo­ple off the street who just want to use the loo and then the vis­it­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer that is com­ing in to see your chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.’’ Of­ficeTeam se­nior man­ager Stephen Lang­ham­mer says it is well worth bosses mak­ing an ex­tra ef­fort to en­sure re­cep­tion­ists are sup­ported. ‘‘There is an as­sump­tion in the mar­ket­place that front-of-house po­si­tions are eas­ily filled and em­ploy­ers don’t have to in­vest in these staff . . . a costly mis­take,’’ he says. ‘‘Re­cep­tion staff are the face of an or­gan­i­sa­tion and of­ten hold a great deal of knowl­edge that can be dif­fi­cult to trans­fer. ‘‘There­fore, a high front-desk turnover can be a huge cost to the or­gan­i­sa­tion.’’ Mr Lang­ham­mer says re­cep­tion­ists of­ten tend to miss out on ca­reer devel­op­ment and payrises but warns now the econ­omy is pick­ing up, of­fice work­ers will look for job sat­is­fac­tion else­where. Elly Hay, 59, be­gan as a re­cep­tion­ist for plumb­ing and roof in­dus­try group train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion TAPS in 1997. She now is an ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer, re­spon­si­ble for train­ing the com­pany’s other re­cep­tion­ists, as well as over­see­ing the day-to-day run­ning of the of­fice. ‘‘I do think the re­cep­tion­ist is the most im­por­tant per­son in the of­fice,’’ Mrs Hay says. ‘‘You need to have a great per­son­al­ity and be great on the tele­phone – you re­ally are the first point of con­tact that any­one has with your com­pany. It’s not much good hav­ing a re­cep­tion­ist that’s a bit dopey. It’s a bit like be­ing in cus­tomer ser­vice. You are there to serve who­ever rings up and who­ever comes in. ‘‘If I went some­where and the re­cep­tion­ist was cranky, I wouldn’t want to go back and do busi­ness there. Things like that (be­ing cour­te­ous) are very im­por­tant.’’

Elly Hay, an ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer for plumb­ing and roof in­dus­try group train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion TAPS. Pic­ture: Mark Brake

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