Skills Needed for Administrative Jobs

An administrative assistant is on call for any office support task.

An administrative assistant is on call for any office support task.

When "administrative job" is mentioned, the next word that comes to mind is “office”. Typically, administrative assistants work in an office and report to a supervisor or boss. A larger office may have an administrative supervisor who leads the staff in all duties related to information management. Every office, no matter the industry, needs employees focused on administrative duties such as paperwork, communication with other businesses, reports, payroll, and other tasks that keep the office running smoothly.

Versatility

Administrative assistants must be keen with details. Typically, they are working for a boss with a schedule full of appointments, duties, and tasks. The boss may not have time to file documents in appropriate places, type up dictated notes, answer e-mails, or manage the office schedule and inventory. An administrative assistant must learn to perform these tasks specifically to the standards of the boss, thereby easing her workload. The administrative assistant may also perform errands, restock cabinets or handle personal matters for the boss. The job is more involved than a secretary or receptionist. An administrative assistant should be ready to perform any task that eases the workload of the boss.

Interpersonal Skills

Any administrative position requires exposure to people, be they colleagues, clients, or professionals from outside the organization. Strong communication skills such as maintaining eye contact, politeness, and assertiveness make the administrative assistant successful at her job. The assistant may also report to one or more bosses who each have separate goals. For example, an administrative assistant at a publishing company might report to the publisher and also to the bookkeeper who manages inventory and payroll. While the boss may need the assistant to run files out to another business, the bookkeeper may need the assistant to check the office supply inventory and produce a re-order report. The assistant will have to make decisions about what tasks to compete in what order, using her knowledge of the priorities of the company and the deadlines in place. This takes both interpersonal skills and problem-solving skills.

Time Management

In a typical day for an administrative assistant, tasks pile up and errands are given one after the next. Time management is one of the most important skills for an administrative assistant to have. The office must run smoothly, so the assistant should always be able to look ahead and predict what needs to be done next. Keeping an organized calendar, taking notes and avoiding distractions will help an administrative assistant avoid mistakes and delays. For example, in a medical office, an organized filing system and an up-to-date calendar will help the administrative assistant to avoid interfering with the smooth process of appointments. The doctor and medical staff won't have time to adjust schedules or organize the office. They also won't have time to correct mistakes, so the administrative assistant must stay focused while she's on the clock.

Technical Skills

Since an administrative worker may be responsible for any processes that keep the office running smoothly, she needs a set of up-to-date technical skills. This means understanding how to form spreadsheets, write e-mails, manage databases, and create clear reports, presentations and documents. The BLS Occupational Handbook also suggests that an administrative assistant may be called on to negotiate with vendors, purchase supplies, and search for data. These duties go beyond what is traditionally expected of a receptionist, and they require the ability to learn computer systems quickly. If you want to accept an offer for any administrative position, make sure you have a little bit of Superwoman in you. Few things will be above and beyond the call of duty.

 

About the Author

Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.

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