Administrative professionals. Office assistants. Executive assistants. No matter what you call them, people in these corporate support roles are responsible for making sure that the daily operations of the businesses they support go smoothly.
As technological innovations have reshaped the way companies conduct business, they have also fundamentally changed the role of the administrative professional. In this blog post, we’ll look at that evolution over time, and identify the ten skills today’s administrative support workers need to become – and stay – competitive.
Gone are the Days of the “Secretary Pool”
In decades past, administrative professionals were often seen as little more than typists charged with handling clerical matters for the managers and executives they supported. Typing dictated letters and memos, filing paperwork, making sure the coffee pot was on and scheduling meetings were the extent of secretarial job responsibilities in many companies.
Fortunately, times have changed, bringing fresh responsibilities for administrative professionals.
Skills You Need to Stand Out as a Candidate
When you are looking for an administrative position, you need to know more than simply how to type. Today’s administrative professionals and other corporate support personnel should be able to provide a much deeper level of support to their organizations. To do so, you’ll need some skill sets you may not have considered previously.
The following skills represent common requirements in today’s administrative personnel job descriptions:
Administrative support personnel today use technology tools to handle all kinds of tasks including reserving conference rooms, managing travel, managing and retrieving records from off-site storage, imaging technologies, and much more. Knowing how to operate things like phone systems, CRM tools, email systems and industry-specific software applications may give you a leg up on the competition.
2. Event Planning
Administrative professionals are often responsible for planning corporate events. This may include things like retreats, sales conferences, and quarterly board meetings. Understanding the moving pieces that come with planning and executing group events will make you more valuable to potential employers.
Office support professionals are often tasked with ensuring everything in the company goes smoothly, every day. It can be a monumental responsibility, one that many people in the company take for granted. You can shine as an administrative support candidate who understands and is capable of handling behind-the-scene logistics.
4. Written and Verbal Communications
Honing your written and verbal communication skills can also help you stand out from the candidate pool. You will likely be interacting and communicating with people from all departments, and at all levels, of the company you support. Being professional, succinct and personable in your communications can make you a valuable asset to your employer.
5. Multitasking and Organizational Skills
Today’s administrative support personnel need to be able to effectively handle multiple tasks, prioritize them appropriately, and ensure deadlines are met. Technology can help with this to a certain extent, although, as noted above, you also need to ensure you understand and are trained in the technologies the business uses.
6. Project Management
More and more, employers want to hire administrative support professionals who can take on special projects and handle ad hoc requests when needed. For example, administrative professionals are often tasked with taking a lead role in coordinating office moves.
7. Basic Database Management
Regardless of what industry you are in, you will likely need to manage one or more databases for the department(s) you support. Candidates with experience or training in basic database management may be looked at more favorably than those who don’t have that experience.
You should also have a base-level understanding and knowledge of the type of business your prospective employer operates, and a basic understanding of the industry it is in. That knowledge can make it easier for you to jump into a new job and be effective without a significant amount of training from your new employer.
9. Vendor Management and Negotiation
Administrative support personnel are also often responsible for managing vendor and third-party service provider relationships. If you have negotiation and vendor management skills, your resume may rise to the top of the pile, especially in organizations where this is a significant part of the administrative support person’s role.
10. People Skills
Because administrative support professionals are often the first-person colleagues, vendors, and third-party service providers interact with, it is critical that you have the soft “people” skills to represent your employer well.
Expected Growth in Administrative Support Roles
While advances in technology and automation are changing the landscape for some industries and specific professions, there is still demand for skilled administrative personnel.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the administrative assistant profession is expected to grow by a healthy 5.8 percent by 2020, with an additional 156,000 executive assistant job openings expected in that time.
This is good news for anyone hoping to start – or continue – a career in an administrative support role.