Hard Skills for the Administrative Assistant

What are Hard Skills?

Hard skills for the administrative assistant or executive assistant are the critical technical office skills that you bring to the workplace. Hard skills can learned and can be acquired through training, work or a combination of both.  Hard skills are considered transferable which means, once learned, you can transfer them from job to job.  That’s because hard skills are standard across industries.  For example, the hard skills for an administrative assistant position would be very similar at several different organizations and industries.  Hard skills are considered measurable, which means an employer can test you on these skills.  For example, when applying for a position of an Administrative Assistant, a typing test will usually be part of the application process. 

Soft skills, on the other hand, are personal qualities that allow one to more effectively relate to others.  Some soft skills include having a positive attitude and effective time management. Also called people skills, soft skills are considered social skills such as communication skills, listening skills, character or personality traits, attitudes and emotional intelligence such as the ability to show empathy to others. Once learned, these soft skills will enhance your personal interactions on the job while at the same time lead you to experience greater job satisfaction.   

Hard Skills for the Administrative Assistant Examples

The following is a list of hard skills required of the administrative professional or virtual assistant:

  • Keyboarding at 40 to 80 WPM depending on the position
  • Managing office supplies and Inventory Control
  • Managing calendars
  • Booking travel
  • Scheduling facilities and equipment
  • Routine clerical and organizational tasks
  • Organizing files
  • Buying supplies, and managing stockrooms
  • Knowledge of videoconferencing, fax, and other office equipment
  • Conducting research
  • Email programs such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail and Gmail.
  • Designing and creating PowerPoint presentations
  • Word processing and document creation using Microsoft Word or Google docs when creating newsletters, letters, memos, press releases, flyers, brochures, letterhead, resumes and cover letters.
  • Creating and modifying spreadsheets using Excel, Google Sheets and Apple Numbers.  Design and Modifications especially the more advanced features including the use of IF, Lookup functions and Macros.
  • Data Entry
  • Database Management using software such as Microsoft Access
  • Mail Merge and bulk mailings
  • Bookkeeping using software such as Quickbooks and Quicken.
  • Knowledge of basic office procedures
  • Electronic Filing such as OneDrive, Google Drive and DropBox
  • Maintaining Contact Lists
  • Transcription
  • Making travel arrangements
  • Knowledge of online file sharing and storage devices such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive
  • Basic knowledge of Bookkeeping/Accounting
  • Office procedures for organizing forms, policies and procedures
  • Event planning and coordination skills
  • Project Assistance/Coordination
  • Writing and proofreading – excellent punctuation and grammar required

Hard Skills and Soft Skills

The office professional can no longer depend on just hard skills (those technical office skills) for success on the job. They must have the ability to communicate and get along well with people so an understanding of the importance of personal qualities (soft skills) and interpersonal skills is important. Employers today are looking for workers who have a combination of both technical (hard) skills and interpersonal (soft) skills. Soft Skills are your ability to communicate effectively with your co-workers and to get along with your colleagues and other people.  Also, maintaining a good attitude and being a team player is essential to your success as a valued employee.   Some examples of soft skills are:

  • Being a Team Player
  • Being ethical
  • Having a positive attitude
  • Being a good communicator
  • Being a good listener
  • Critical thinking and problem solving Skills
  • Professionalism (displaying a professional image)
  • Demonstrating time management skills
  • Being adaptable and flexible
  • Critical thinking and problem Solving Skills

Hard Skills and Soft Skills for the Administrative Assistant Resume

It’s important that both hard skills and soft skills are included on your Administrative Assistant Resume. Administrative Professionals are taking on more responsibility now than at any other time in history. Administrative Professionals 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 Professionals may also 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 manage their time well and acquire a thorough knowledge of their company culture, structure, products and services to be able to effectively analyze and anticipate the needs of their managers, team members and their projects. 

How to Improve your Soft Skills

Our Administrative Assistant Job Description lists some common Administrative Assistant skills required for many job postings by companies seeking Administrative Assistants. They are:

  • Proficient in Microsoft Office including Word, Excel and Outlook
  • 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.

How to Acquire Hard Skills

To improve your office skills  today, take the Administrative Office Professional online course or the Soft Skills Training for Administrative Professionals on officeskills.org. The Receptionist Online Course offered on officeskills.org also teaches valuable hard and soft skills required of the general receptionist in business today.

This course is taught in the Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom. The Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom is a fun and interactive way to learn Soft Skills. Get the benefit of learning online while being in a classroom environment with an instructor, other students, discussion forums, chat rooms, lectures, presentations and video demonstrations.

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