How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Staffing or Recruiting Firm

Samir Sampat

It might seem odd for someone in the business of recruiting and staffing to need assistance hiring their own help, but that’s just it—when you work in the industry, your shortsightedness is often a roadblock in finding the right help. It’s almost as if you’re too close to the situation to step back and consider how to get the help that your staffing firm needs. 

A receptionist can be many things. The best receptionists wear several hats and wear them quite well. They’re capable of taking a lot of the day-to-day administrative tasks and communication needs off your plate so that you can focus on your business. And like anything, receptionists come in all styles and sizes (we’re talking about virtual receptionist services like the dedicated team at Smith.ai—more on us later). You can outsource, hire a contract receptionist, or even onboard someone as a full-time (or part-time) member of your payroll. 

It's about figuring out what you need, and in this guide, we’ll help you get to the bottom of that by covering all the basics and more. We’ll talk about the value (and cost) of hiring a receptionist, what to look for, and even answer some FAQs to ensure that you’ve got all the insight that you need to make the right decision for your firm. 

You’re in the business of people-- it makes complete sense that you need someone to be the face of your staffing firm and provide potential recruits and candidates with the answers and support they need. Not only that, though, because your receptionist will also be the ideal point of contact for your business contracts and employers, providing that same professional, personable demeanor that gives a great impression every time. 


The cost of hiring a receptionist 

The average receptionist or administrative assistant in the United States makes between $11 and $14 per hour. Of course, that’s at the entry-level, and there are more experienced or industry-specific receptionists that may garner as much as $16 to $20 per hour, so it’s important to think about what you need so that you’re not overpaying (or overextending your budget). If you need a receptionist for an executive recruiting firm, for example, you’ll probably spend more than if you’re hiring an entry-level receptionist for a staffing firm that specializes in sourcing entry-level candidates. 

Of course, there’s also the cost of onboarding that employee. According to data, companies spend about $4,000 in the process of onboarding an employee, which includes sourcing, hiring, training, and then providing a salary and benefits on an ongoing basis. All told, that’s a pretty big chunk of change that comes with a lot of baggage because you’ll have another person to manage on a day-to-day basis. 

For some businesses, this is an investment well-made. They’ve reached a place where they can no longer grow without the aid of a full-time receptionist or someone in-house to field the calls, chats, and other needs of the front desk. For others, it might be a realization that outsourcing is the way to go. Not only will you spend a lot less, but you’ll be responsible for less micromanaging and be able to trust that experts are handling the job. 

It's time to get on board, and that starts with deciding which investment is best for your front desk. Whether it’s an on-site receptionist or a virtual service, there are plenty of options out there. Let’s talk more about why every staffing and recruiting firm can benefit from having a receptionist and then we’ll look at how to find the right person for the job. 


Why your firm needs a receptionist

The receptionist is a dedicated role in any business. It’s the point of contact for anyone who comes to your business. Not having someone at the front desk, or on the front lines virtually, is like telling people “just pick someone to ask for help”—and that’s not very forward-thinking, nor is it very organized or helpful. With the growing demand for better customer service, that dedicated attention is something people insist upon today. 

Plus, if your staffing firm is doing well, you’ll be far too busy with recruits and candidates, employers, and others while trying to coordinate filling various positions. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for answering phones or other administrative tasks. 

What can a receptionist do? The better question, perhaps, is what can’t they? The right receptionist can handle everything for your business in terms of communication and administration, including things like:

  • Answering and routing calls
  • Handling general inquiries and questions
  • Creating content, including letters, reports, and other correspondence
  • Scheduling and managing appointments 
  • Maintaining the physical office, including supplies and equipment
  • Maintaining the virtual office, including flies and software
  • Welcome clients or visitors (both online and in-person)
  • Coordinating clients, contractors, businesses, and others to help build solid relationships
  • Handling all other admin tasks or communication needs your business has 

A receptionist can deliver whatever you need, so long as you choose the right person for the job. We know what you’re probably wondering: who, exactly, is the “right” person for the job?

That’s a question that requires a little more insight, and that’s answered in two parts. 


Hiring vs. outsourcing your receptionist(s)

The first part of deciding what is right for your business comes with determining what type of receptionists you’ll hire: someone in-house that’s part of your payroll, or someone that you outsource and only pay for based on the agreed-upon terms of the contract. Again, there’s no single right or wrong answer here—it’s about figuring out what you need. 

Hiring someone may be ideal, but do you have the money to spend on an employee? And it’s not just their salary. You’ll also have to factor in benefits, as well as onboarding and recruiting costs (reported at about $4k per hire, on average, remember?). That’s a big investment for smaller companies that might not have the means. Consider things like:

  • Can you afford an in-house receptionist? Several SMBs and smaller firms might not have the budget to hire someone on the payroll, even on a part-time basis. Check the numbers and make sure that you know what you’re capable of spending so that you don’t overextend yourself. Often, outsourcing can give you the solutions that you need at a fraction of the cost. 
  • Do you even need an in-house receptionist? Again, it’s about what your firm needs. If you just need someone to handle calls and messages after hours, outsourcing to a virtual receptionist service or remote assistant could be the better option, both for your needs and for your budget. 
  • What kind of services do you want or expect? Some contractors or individuals may not be able to provide as much comprehensive service for you, so you’ll have to think about what you expect your receptionist to deliver. If it’s a full spectrum of services and solutions, it might be best to hire a team like the receptionists at Smith.ai (but more on that later). 
  • Are you looking to get the best talent without the high price? Again, when you outsource, you open yourself up to much better talent. You can find receptionists all over the country and around the world that have the best of the best in skills and solutions, no matter where you’re located. 

Ultimately, having an in-house receptionist might be nice (or necessary) for some staffing firms, but others will be able to rely on third-party services or remote receptionists for the communications and admin tasks that need to be handled in their business. 

The second part of the equation comes in hiring the receptionist(s) with the right qualities and qualifications. 


Receptionist qualifications and qualities 

Next, you have to look at the qualities of the people or services you’re considering for the job. They should not only be skilled in this field in general, but they should have staffing or recruiting-related experience and training that your business requires. There’s a lot more to hiring the “best” receptionist than just seeing what everyone else is doing and going with the flow. You have to think about what your firm needs

First, focus on soft skills. Qualities like time management, motivation, multitasking, and problem-solving skills are far more valuable to you than hard skills like using business phone systems or software competency—the latter can be learned. You can’t teach someone to be a good multitasker or to be compassionate when communicating with clients, or at least not as easily. 

Communication is a big focus here. Receptionists are all about communication, and a majority of their job involves talking, creating content, or otherwise communicating with your clients, visitors, staff, and others. Experience is nice but not a must-have, because a quick learner can go farther than even the most experienced receptionist with the right training and support. 

If you are going to choose an individual for the role, look for someone who offers:

  • A friendly, personable demeanor
  • Motivated, self-starter attitude
  • Confidence and eagerness to succeed
  • Problem-solving and conflict resolution skills
  • Relationship building and customer service skills
  • Easily adaptable to changes
  • Ability to work in a fast-past environment
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team

Of course, feel free to add anything to this list that we missed that might be important to you. There are a lot of different factors and qualities that you could add, and some that might be less important based on your specific needs. 

And now, in case you missed anything, let’s look at some of the most common questions about hiring a receptionist for any business, including staffing firms. 


FAQs for hiring your receptionist

Before you dive into your own quest for a new receptionist, you’ll want to get as much information as you can. There’s a lot to cover and even though we’ve already talked about so much, there’s still more. Plus, the Q&A below can also offer some quick answers if you don’t feel like reading through everything above each time you come back for reference. 

When should I hire a receptionist?

If you’re asking this question, you’re already wasting valuable time. A receptionist is an essential part of any business. Unless you want to pay your recruiters their top-level salaries to answer phones and take messages, you need to hire someone from the beginning. Even if you upgrade or outsource to a virtual service, it needs to happen sooner than later. 

Do I need someone physically in my office?

While having someone as the literal “face” of your business is great, there may not be a need for it in today’s world. Think about it—do clients come into your office or is that just where your team works? If you have an office that doesn’t see clients, or that doesn’t see them often, a virtual or remote receptionist could do the job just fine. They may be the better choice because you get more for your money. 

How much should I spend on a receptionist?

The cost of a receptionist should be less of a focus than the services that you’re getting, of course, but as mentioned above, you’ll probably spend between $11 and $14 per hour (that’s the average rate throughout most of the country). That’s if you hire someone on your staff as a part of the payroll, and that’s not including benefits or onboarding costs. Then there’s the virtual receptionist or outsourced service, which both have their own range of costs. Ultimately, you should find a solution that provides what you need within your budget.

What’s the difference between a receptionist and an assistant?

A receptionist is strictly focused on communications and admin duties, while an assistant is a more general role that could involve anything from taking notes and messages to getting lunch orders, making appointments, and more. In some cases, it’s just a matter of word choice, but the “assistant” role is typically more generalized than the role of a receptionist. 


Save the trouble and the time when you partner with Smith.ai for virtual receptionist assistance

We know that you’ve got a business to run. You like managing people, not micromanaging the front office. That’s where we come in—for a fraction of the cost of hiring someone in-house, you can have a team of dedicated receptionists at your beck and call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for anything that you need. 

The virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can assist with live website chat, scheduling and intake, payment collection, overflow calling, and even solutions like Facebook and SMS message answering. Plus, we can help you craft a strategy to manage it all flawlessly. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists can do for your staffing firm, from taking calls and chats to handling admin tasks and more. You can also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484.  


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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