She Tries to Make Clients Feel Well-Received

As a receptionist at FileNet, Jo Grimes tries to make everyone who passes by her desk feel welcome and important. "It doesn't matter if it's the janitor or a bank vice president. I greet them all the same," she said.

From her position in FileNet's spacious lobby, Grimes fields hundreds of telephone calls a day and assists a steady stream of visitors, many of whom have flown in from all parts of the world.

"Very often it turns out that I have been talking to some of them on the phone for a long time. It makes me feel good when they come up and introduce themselves and tell me how nice it is to be able to connect a face with a voice on the phone," Grimes said. "It makes doing business a little more personal."

When she arrives just before 8 a.m., the phones are already ringing with calls from Europe. In the afternoon, they start coming in from Australia, where the business day is just starting.

"A lot of cold calls come to the receptionist's line from people making initial inquiries about FileNet. I try to be very careful with these callers because they are potential new clients," Grimes said. "I want to make sure they end up talking to the right person and not get transferred around."

Grimes also maintains a data base of the company's telephone-listings, helps with its ride-sharing program and assists couriers who are dropping off or picking up packages.

"This job is definitely not for everyone," Grimes said. "Sometimes I have to take a deep breath and just keep going. It takes tenacity to be able to handle so many things at once and still make people feel at home."

OCCUPATION: Receptionist

* What's involved: Handling telephone calls and assisting visitors to the office lobby.

* Qualifications: High school diploma and general office skills.

* Outlook: By 1998, the number of receptionists in Orange County is expected to increase 9.4%, to 14,580.

* Salary range: $7 to $10 per hour

* Pros: High-profile position providing constant interaction with clients and co-workers.

* Cons: High-volume telephone calls

* Advancement: Receptionists often advance to secretarial positions.

* Quote: "The visitors make my day interesting because they come from all over the world. We have a display of international flags outside the lobby and they always stop and try to find their flag before entering."

--Jo Grimes, FileNetResearched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times

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