What Makes a Good Administrative Assistant?

Julie Shenkman
Posted by in Administrative & Clerical Services

A good administrative assistant combines administrative skills with professionalism and enthusiasm for the work at hand. Organizations hiring clerical or administrative staff usually look for candidates who demonstrate organizational, communication and computer skills. Other technology skills, as well as leadership ability, also help administrative personnel succeed.

Organization and communication are two of the most valued administrative skills regardless of industry or level of work. From receptionists to executive assistants, admin staff must be able to keep schedules straight, set meetings that work for everyone on a team or project and manage office supplies or expensive accounts. Keeping detailed notes, calendars and reminders, and being able to remember multiple pieces of information at a time allow administrative assistants to keep everyone else on time and organized.

Communication goes hand-in-hand with organization when it comes to administrative skills. Secretaries and others must be able to communicate requirements in concise, clear language to avoid misunderstandings between departments, staff, or employees and supervisors. Administrative staff members are usually charged with drafting meeting minutes, emails and letters, so excellent writing and grammar skills are also important.

An administrative assistant job often requires strong technology skills. Clerical workers use computers for many functions and are generally required to be proficient in software such as word processors, spreadsheets, email systems, calendar systems, presentation software and purchasing and expense programs. Administrative assistants must also be competent on complex phone systems, be able to help others with mobile device management and understand how to provide basic maintenance to office machinery such as copy machines.

In addition to traditional administrative skills, leaderships skills also play a vital role in any administrative assistant job. Chrysta Bairre, an employee engagement specialist, points out that leadership skills are important for employees at any level of an organization. Administrative professionals must be able to listen effectively to others before acting to solve issues; good listening skills also let assistants convey messages without changing the meaning or creating misunderstandings. Depending on the administrative assistant's roll in an organization, planning and delegating skills are also valuable. Even the best administrative assistant can't do everything alone, and understanding how and when to seek help from others makes any employee more efficient.

Perhaps one of the most important administrative skills for assistants to have is flexibility. Without flexibility, things such as communication or leadership can become harsh and rigid. When an administrative assistant loses the ability to adapt to other employees, a boss or changing situations, they become less valuable to the organization.

Skills are what make a good administrative assistant. However, top candidates for admin jobs combine administrative skills with great people skills. Compassion, leadership and communication let clerical staff help others while technical and computer skills keep workers relevant in an evolving workplace.


Photo courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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