The TOP 15 Things You Should Know About Being An Administrative Assistant.
Get the inside scoop on office expectations
Administrative Assistants are the gasoline fueling today's offices. From office supply inventory to professional powerpoint presentations, Administrative Assistants deftly juggle multiple roles and responsibilities.
There is a broad general description of what Administrative Assistants do, as well as multiple variations of the job title. And every office has unique needs and systems in place for their particular specialty. Their common threads are the importance of organization, attention to detail, time management, accountability and dependability. Professional Administrative Assistants live by these principles and have learned to adapt their tasks accordingly.
With over a decade of administrative experience in offices big and small, I've compiled a list of what I think are:
The Top Fifteen Tips you need to know to be a Successful Administrative Assistant.
1. Reception Management: Even if your company has a receptionist, you'll be screening phone calls, making phone calls, greeting clients, visitors, and vendors. Your primary goal is to be the smiling face and friendly 'first impression' of your company to all who call or come in. A professional appearance and pleasant phone voice are expected. Second, minimize interruptions and deflect whomever/whatever your boss doesn't have time to deal with right now. Take accurate, detailed messages that allow your boss to save time when calling the person back.
2. Coffee Management: You'll be responsible for keeping the coffee station stocked and clean. And maybe decorative, if you can which is nice when your customers share the station with you. Got a Kuerig or other instant, pod dropping machine? Keep options simple. Still working with the old fashioned drip brew? Be resourceful. Invest in one or two of those large dispensers like in hotel lobbies, that keep coffee hot and fresh for several hours. Everyone will appreciate the good coffee. And coffee makes people happy.
3. Go-For Management: You'll be the Go-For; go for coffee, for copies, for lunch, for bank runs, for break room goodies, for anything that's needed. In time, you will begin to anticipate the needs of your Boss, co-workers and customers and spend less time go-for-ing and more time preparing for the support they require.
4. Equipment Management: You'll be expected to know how to troubleshoot every piece of office machinery, including parts maintenance, upgrades and lease renewals. *Savvy tip: Create calendar entries for all your office equipment as well as continuing maintenance like carpet cleaning with dates, times, service needed, amount spent and all the pertinent information from the company that was used. You can quickly generate follow up reminders. At the end of the quarter or year, create a quick-view spreadsheet with the information and place in the corresponding file. Now you have a current history and accurate record.
5. Supply Management: You'll be expected to keep inventory of office supplies, bathroom supplies, kitchen/coffee/breakroom supplies and party supplies while staying in budget. Bulk stores can save the company money on certain items. Take time to research what you're buying. Amazon can save you a ton too.
6. Event Management: You may be responsible for coordinating off-site events, like industry shows, fairs or expos. Also, you may be tasked with all the 'office party' planning. This can include celebrations for promotions or reaching goals, birthdays, anniversaries - the work kind, wedding/baby, and retirement/leaving occasions. Be sure to establish a budget with your boss prior to planning. This can present you with a great opportunity to showcase your creative side and cost-cutting skills.
7. Agenda Management: You'll be scheduling appointments, conferences, lunches, meetings and rearranging all of the above effectively due to unforeseen circumstances. Some offices require you to make travel arrangements. Use a travel agency to assist you in saving time, money and frustration.
8. Presentation Management: For prospective clients or new employees you'll be responsible for selling your company's accomplishments, awards, future growth, unique attributes and the reasons behind why this is the best place to do business or work. For meetings you'll be the note-taker, report-maker, and brilliant, creative, well organized, meeting presentation-compiler.
9. Buzz Management: You will hear most of everything that's going on with everyone, in every department. All the juicy gossip, nasty rumors and running tabs on who is - insert label here -. Even if you don't want to know any of this mostly mean, damaging information there is always a know-it-all in every office spreading the buzz. Just don't be that person. Be the person that builds others up. If there is a conflict with a coworker, talk openly and honestly and be willing to compromise in an effort to resolve the issue. Maintain your professionalism.
10. Information Management: You'll be writing office memos, emails, business correspondence, reports and responding to requests for information and data. You'll also maintain electronic and hard copy filing systems, prepare and distribute mail, and may assist with record-keeping for staff including expense reports and/or petty cash.
11. Multi-tasking Management: You'll be juggling several roles and responsibilities at once and will be expected to adapt, transform, compromise, camouflage, and implement solutions in the moment. Smile. Be gracious. You can do it.
12. Micro-Management: Some bosses will bring every mistake they find, big or small, yours and everyone else's to you. You'll be expected to point them out to your co-workers, so she/he doesn't have to. You'll also need to relay the 'correct' procedure according to the boss, to everyone who doesn't do it their way. I mean, the 'right' way. Some bosses are all about results. They empower their employees to complete the designated task however it works best for them, as long as the assignment is handled properly. If you do make a mistake, be honest and accountable for it. Then immediately learn how to fix it and what not to do next time.
13. Time Management: Most office environments are fast paced and you'll be expected to adapt. Accuracy and efficiency are what you should strive for. Prioritize your workload so you have ample time to pay attention to the details that matter. Get creative and provide solutions or ‘hacks’ that save you and everyone else precious time that can be spent on selling your product or service and catering to your customer’s satisfaction.
14. Impact Management: Developing your unique skill set makes you indispensable to the staff you provide primary support to and vital to the overall efficiency of the office. Listening is a key component of communication. Communication is essential to success.
15. You'll need to tuck in your cape though, being the end all, be all in the office goes over much better when you're humble. Administrative Assistants are the life force of modern business offices and the more demonstrable skills you have, the more valuable you are to a prospective employer. Now, you can beef up that resume with the insider knowledge you've gained here and practice those interview skills.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries can range from $25k - $45k per year, depending on location and level of education and/or work experience. The BLS also reports (as of Jan. 2014) this occupation as having an overall expected job growth of twelve percent from 2012 - 2022, which is as fast as average for all occupations. More and more companies are relying on their Administrative Assistants to learn and assume tasks performed by Executive Secretaries as a means of saving money, and many managers are now performing some administrative tasks themselves.
With approximately 12 variations of the same job title*, the subtle differences between them pertain to specific industries and levels of education. Another variable is the size of the company, and you’ll find an expanded list of responsibilities unique to each office/place of business specified in the employment ad. In the corporate world of business, there is a distinct difference between Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants and as such, a separate article.
As an Administrative Assistant, you are the support system for the office and the higher up, i.e. department manager. The foundation for Administrative positions begins with having strong typing skills and in depth knowledge and understanding of most modern computer software, database maintenance, and project management. There are degree programs available for Administrative Assistants, with coursework including classes in database management, word processing, computer applications and office etiquette. If you want to enter a specific industry, such as Law, Medical, Insurance, or Accounting for example, you’ll need higher education to get the prerequisite skills to apply for and enter that field. Entry level positions expect the minimum skills and are usually willing to train you on the job for that specific industry and office.
* Variations of the job title include: Administrative Assistant, Administrative Support, Administrative Associate, Administrative Specialist, Administrative Coordinator, Administrative Clerk, Administrative Aide, Administrative Secretary, Office Assistant, Office Clerk, Office Support, Office Aide