Today's administrative assistant is a far cry from the secretaries of the past. The modern administrative assistant is truly the nucleus of any company, no matter the industry, because it is her job to support and maintain every part of the business, keeping things running smoothly. As many businesses cut back on staff, the role of the administrative assistant becomes more challenging, and certain skills are essential to doing a great job.
In every industry, there are the three T's: terminology, trends and technology, and a great administrative assistant has master knowledge of all of them. Terminology refers to understanding the industry's language and terms and being able to communicate with industry insiders. Staying on top of industry trends and tweaking a company's operations to be more in line with those trends is another valuable skill. A thorough knowledge of current technology is also critical to an administrative assistant's success.
In today's increasingly technologically advanced workplace, the administrative assistant must be able to keep up. Having a basic knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook used to be the standard, but a great administrative assistant can handle much more, including setting up virtual meetings, maintaining social media pages and handling payroll responsibilities.
Excellent communication skills are absolutely essential to the administrative assistant role. Much more than a support position, the administrative assistant is often the first or only point of contact between her boss, a company's clients, vendors and the public, not to mention the company's own employees. She may take messages, answer and return phone calls, greet visitors and provide help and information to clients and customers. The admin assistant is often the go-to person, so her verbal and written communication must be clear, concise and professional at all times.
A great administrative assistant must be incredibly dependable and trustworthy. The administrative assistant typically has access to highly confidential information and is the only other person besides the top boss to be privy to it. The assistant must use this knowledge to do her job while avoiding office gossip and maintaining full confidentiality.
Arguably the most flexible position in any company, the administrative assistant must be able to adapt to a variety of different situations on a daily basis. There is rarely a "typical" day for an administrative assistant, as she serves as a company's eyes and ears and must be able to make quick, educated decisions on her feet. A well-qualified administrative assistant is able to handle emergencies with finesse, without allowing every urgent situation to knock the entire workday off track.
All too often, the administrative assistant is perceived as merely a support position. However, the administrative assistant is the backbone to any company, and the skills and talent required to perform well in the position do not come easy, especially as today's workplace evolves and becomes more technologically challenging.
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