For the Administrative Assistant who wants to get ahead in the 21st century, basic office skills competency is no longer enough. It’s now important that Administrative Assistants and Office Assistants are not only technically savvy, but also socially competent. Having the soft skills necessary to be able to communicate clearly and get along with their coworkers, colleagues, supervisors and clients is now more essential than ever.
Administrative Assistants are taking on more responsibility now than at any other time in history. Administrative Assistants today need strong communication skills to effectively collaborate with a variety of people and job functions, accomplishing tasks of moderate to high complexity and scope. Administrative Assistants may be required to keep their team’s business operations and activities organized and moving forward. They’ll need to be self-starters who can recognize where processes can be improved and who will take the initiative to improve them.
Administrative Assistants, particularly Executive Administrative Assistants, must also possess strong business judgment, professional etiquette and organizational, analytical and problem-solving skills to be able to interact with high-level executives both inside and outside of the company.
In addition to doing the more traditional tasks such as managing correspondence, office budgets and space planning, moderating office calendars and communication, creating and maintaining office policies and procedures and organization of office events, the Administrative Assistant must acquire a thorough knowledge of their company’s products and services to be able to effectively analyze and anticipate the needs of their managers, team members and their projects.
The job of the administrative assistant has evolved over time to be an exciting and challenging role that requires both technical and soft skills. While specific job duties vary by experience, job title, and specialty, some of the more common tasks include:
List of Office Skills
- Proficient in Microsoft Office including Word, Excel and Outlook
- Manage databases such as Microsoft Access
- Prepare presentations, reports, and documents
- Ability to type (keyboard) at 40 to 80 WPM depending on the position
- Reporting Skills and Administrative Writing Skills
- Ability to manage processes and analyze Information
- Excellent organizational skills with high attention to detail
- Professional, proactive and self-motivated with an ability to take direction
- Problem Solving Skills
- Supply Management and Inventory Control
- Excellent communicative and interpersonal skills needed along with a “Can Do” attitude!
- Ability to multi-task and change direction quickly
- Be a team-player and be able to work on own initiative in a dynamic and challenging environment
- Ability to demonstrate initiative and honed organizational skills
- Manage calendars
- Book travel
- Scheduling facilities and equipment
- Routine clerical and organizational tasks
- Organizing files
- Drafting messages
- Mentoring team members
- Scheduling appointments and managing social medial and general staff support.
- Manage small projects and help define new operational strategies.
- Negotiate with vendors
- Buy supplies, and manage stockrooms
- Knowledge of videoconferencing, fax, and other office equipment
- Conducting research
Job Outlook for Administrative Assistants and Office Assistants
According to bls.gov, overall employment of secretaries and administrative assistants is projected to grow 3 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. They also state it is actually projected to decline 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, largely because many executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants can support more than one manager in an organization. Also, many managers today perform work that was previously done by their executive secretaries such as typing their own correspondence or scheduling their own travel and meetings.
On a more encouraging note, demand for medical secretaries is projected to grow 21 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. One of the reasons, according to bls.gov, is because the number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of the federal health insurance reform. One other reason, the Occupational Handbook notes, is that aging baby boomers will demand more medical services as they become eligible for Social Security and Medicare.
If you have work experience and hands on experience using computer software applications such as word processing and spreadsheets, you will have the best prospects of finding a job. Training can be found at your local community college, adult education centers and online such as those offered on officeskills.org. For information about current pay for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, refer to the latest pay scales in the Occupational Handbook on bls.gov.