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 your list of office skills contains both technical (hard skills) and soft (interpersonal) skills. Today, administrative processionals should be both technically savvy and 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.
What are Office Skills?
Office Skills are essential employability competencies that administrative office professionals must possess to perform professionally and efficiently the daily duties required of an administrative professional. They use computer software like Microsoft 365 or LibreOffice to create common business documents like business letters, reports, memos and spreadsheets. They may also manage databases, prepare presentations, use videoconferencing and other office equipment.
Specific job duties vary by experience, job title, and specialty. Administrative professionals’ titles can vary from office assistant, administrative assistant, secretary, administrative associate to executive assistant. Executive assistants tend to support just one or two executives whereas department secretaries may be responsible for supporting a whole department of professionals.
Why are Office Skills Important?
The demand for administrative professionals continues to be strong in all industries and offices around the world. Administrative professionals continue to be the lifeblood of an organization and are relied upon by many employees throughout the company.
Administrative Assistants are taking on more responsibility now than at any other time in history. 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.
List of Office Skills
While the role of the administrative professional has evolved over time, generally speaking, they all perform the same common tasks including managing calendars, booking travel, scheduling facilities and equipment, routine clerical and organizational tasks, organizing files, drafting messages, mentoring team members and scheduling appointments. They may also be required to draft routine memos, correspondence and reports. Depending on the type of organization or job, administrative professionals may also be required to perform basic bookkeeping and maintain both electronic and paper filing systems. While specific job duties vary by experience, job title, and specialty, the more common list of office skills include:
- Answering telephones and take messages or transfer calls
- Scheduling appointments and updating event calendars
- Arranging staff meetings
- Handling incoming and outgoing mail and faxes
- Preparing memos, invoices, or reports
- Editing documents
- Maintaining databases and filing systems
- Performing basic bookkeeping
- Being proficient in Microsoft Office including Word, Excel and Outlook
- 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 and Critical Thinking 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
- 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
Top List of Office Skills in Demand in 2023
Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Skills
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.
Communication and Interpersonal Skills
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.
Having good organizational skills is one of the most important soft skills you can cultivate as they help you manage your workload effectively, stay accountable to your employer and complete your tasks in a timely manner. Organizational skills involve being self-disciplined, setting attainable goals, keeping your workspace neat and orderly and exhibiting professionalism. Ability to multi-task is a plus.
Time Management is the practice of organizing time and work assignments to increase productivity and personal efficiency. Time management is one of the most important soft skills you can develop as the ability to manage your time and work assignments will not only increase your productivity, but also your satisfaction on the job. Employers today look for people who are able to plan their time effectively. Time management and critical thinking skills go hand in hand as it’s hard to manage your time unless you can critically think out your day.
Computer Literacy (Hard Skills)
You need hard skills like being proficient in keyboarding, Microsoft Office including word processing, spreadsheets, email and calendar management or other specialized skills to perform the job of an Administrative Professional. Knowledge of calendar management and scheduling is also in demand.
Adaptable and Flexible
Adaptability is a sought-after soft skill in the 21st Century as it shows that the administrative professional can adapt to new technology trends and ever-changing company processes and customer needs. Adaptability for the administrative assistant rates right up there along with other highly desirable hard and soft skills and some employers state that people who are highly adaptable are actually considered more valuable employees than those who are highly skilled but less adaptable. While this soft skill is a very difficult quality for many people to meet, the dynamics of the work place today is constantly changing making it very important to understand what it means to be adaptable and flexible.
Knowledge of various online applications including Google Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft 365. Also, knowledge of online file sharing and storage devices such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive.
Good Telephone Etiquette and Customer Service Skills
Ability to greet customers, answer incoming calls and direct calls to appropriate staff. The customer who contacts your company is going to base his/her perception of your company, products and services on the attention he/she gets from speaking with you so possessing excellent telephone etiquette skills like answering phone calls and greeting customers professionally is very important. Your job is to be courteous, cheerful, polite, able and willing to show empathy to callers or clients. Never argue with customers, rush them through a call or otherwise provide poor service.
Job Outlook for Administrative Assistants and Office Assistants
According to bls.gov, overall employment of secretaries and administrative assistants is projected to decline 8 percent from 2021 to 2031. Despite declining employment, according to bls.gov, about 354,000 openings for secretaries and administrative assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
The decline is largely because 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 16 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. One of the reasons, according to bls.gov, is the large baby-boom population that continues to enter older age groups, which typically have more healthcare concerns than younger age groups and will continue to increase demand for medical services. As a result, more medical assistants will be needed to perform routine administrative and clinical duties in physicians’ offices and other primary care settings.
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.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Secretaries and Administrative Assistants,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/secretaries-and-administrative-assistants.htm (visited August 13, 2023).
How to Improve your Office Skills List?
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 Office 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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