The career diaries profile different professions giving you an insiders view of various jobs and careers. The goal being to give you a better view of a potential career by giving you more than the 10,000 foot view offered in vocation guides and top 50 job lists. A job is much more than a paycheck, it’s an activity that consumes roughly half of your waking hours. Or it might be an excellent way to supplement your main vocation. So let’s take a look at our latest career diary from our special guest Brian Scheur from My Next Buck.
Career: Concierge, Front Desk, Doorman, Greeter
I work in the Research field, but let me tell you, that career isn’t as interesting or as enjoyable as my part-time job as a concierge at an upscale apartment building in the metro DC area. In the spirit of this great series by Paul, I will give you an honest look at being a concierge at an apartment building. While not an ideal career path for some, it is totally possible that some may be looking to supplement their income with an extra 40 hours a week of work, or a part time job (what I do).
What does a Concierge do?
First and foremost, you are there to serve the residents or tenants of the building you work in. You also represent the building and are the first face that residents and potential residents see. The typical job responsibilities include, answering phones, taking work orders (maintenance requests), coordinating contractors (cleaning crews, furniture deliverers, movers, etc.), give access to the building to residents and non-residents, other administrative duties, and providing delightful customer service.
Now, all of these tasks are not complicated in and of themselves. However, it does take a certain personality and a good amount of empathy to be good at this job. In essence, you are a glorified “crap-taker” with a nametag. If someone has a problem, they come and see you. If someone has an emergency, you are the point of contact. If someone has a bad day and needs to vent, you are their 15 minute psychotherapist (think of it as being the local bartender without the booze and all the pretty women around). Being able to think and react quickly and keep someone from losing their temper is a prime component of being successful at this job.
What is the Pay Range for a Concierge
The pay range for a concierge can vary. To be upfront, I make $13/hour as a part time employee. However, full timers can make upwards of $15-$18/hour (Please remember, these numbers are partly inflated due to the fact I am in an upscale building in Washington, DC. Had I been a concierge in my hometown of Buffalo, NY I would expect something in the range of $9-$11/hour for a part timer.
For what the work is, and the flexibility that the position allows, I find the pay to be very fair. Additionally, if you are part of a team that has a 24 hour front desk, you may be asked to cover other people’s shifts and increase your hours some weeks. The ability to work those extra hours will bring in more money and potentially overtime pay.
What Type of Education is Required for a Concierge?
A lot of people are surprised to see me doing this job after they discover I have a master’s degree. The typical employee will have at least a high school diploma or a GED. However, you will also find lots of college students doing this job so they can study when it’s slow. Education isn’t a requirement (yay for that!) but the job does lend itself to a certain type of person (usually someone with good people skills, and an empathetic ear).
How long have you been a Concierge?
I have been working as a concierge for the past 18 months, part time.
What Types of Traits or Skills Should you Have to be a Concierge?
The skills that one should have to ensure they are a good concierge are based primarily on their personalities. You should be able to be pleasant for your entire shift. You need to be able to multi-task and its also essential that you have a good memory. Having a strong sense of empathy will help you in relating to the people you are serving as well as help provide them with superior customer service.
Also, its important that you are capable of taking crap from people and not losing your cool. When it comes to where someone lives, often times they are anal retentive. They come to you to voice their frustrations. Something that may seem like a minor problem to you could be a catastrophe to them, so you need to be prepared for them to be more upset about the problem than the situation would typically call for. Having the ability to calm someone down and ensure them that the problem will be rectified while keeping your cool is essential.
What do you like most about your job?
There is a lot I like about my job as a concierge. It has actually been the job that has helped me grow as an individual. Let me explain. I am an introvert, but when people are coming to talk to you all day long and your job description requires you to make eye contact and greet people, you have to get over being shy very quickly (this has also helped me in my social life, especially approaching girls!).
The job isn’t action packed. There is a lot of sitting and a lot of free time. That gives me ample time to check e-mail, write blog posts, read (either online or an actual book), or do almost anything else that you can think of on a computer. Getting paid for 16 hours of being productive in my own life (albeit its not 16 hours of straight productivity) is a pretty sweet deal.
The one other thing I love is that I get to be a fly on the wall. Lots of people say they hate drama. I don’t think that’s true. I think people love drama, as long as its not happening to them. So, being the front desk guy at a building allows you to witness the drama of people’s lives while being slightly removed from it. Of course, everything is in confidence, but it is fun to see who is doing the walk of shame in the morning, or who is returning from a night at the bars at 6am. Use your imagination for the rest.
What Don’t You Like about your job?
To be honest, there isn’t much I don’t like about this job. Sure I wish it paid more, but for the amount of effort I put in, I get paid quite well. What I will say is that I don’t like coming into work in the mornings, but I don’t mind being at work. The fact I have a part-time job totally blows, but the part-time job I have is really just that awesome.
Advice for Getting into being a Concierge
Look on Craigslist for “front desk” positions or “concierge” positions. Also, look around and see which companies are the big property management companies in your area. Odds are they will have a careers section on their website telling you how to apply for any concierge vacancies they might have. As you would imagine, there is a lot of turnover with this kind of shift work, but that can be to your advantage as one week there may be no openings, and the next week, there could be three.
This is a Guest Post by Brian Scheur of My Next Buck. Go check out his blog where you’ll find everything from Confessions of an Internet Gambler ““ My Biggest Financial Mistake to his classic series Financial Foul Ups. He writes with a funny edge and is just an all around good guy. Thanks Brian for sharing your side hustle with us.
Also if you work in a different profession and wouldn’t mind being interviewed for an upcoming career diary please shoot me an email and we’ll set up a time to talk.