Administrative Assistant Job Description: Overview and Skills Required

administrativeassistantjobdescriptionAlthough the duties of an administrative assistant and a secretary are often confused, administrative assistants usually have more responsibility in the workplace. As an administrative assistant, you may be required to provide administrative and clerical support for the entire office or you might be assigned to a particular team and work exclusively with those individuals.

Administrative assistants are an important part of any business. The entire workplace is dependent on your ability to manage scheduling conflicts, tend to office equipment problems, and communicate with employees and clients alike. Time Mastery teaches you the skills you need to multi-task effectively in this fast-paced environment.

In many circles, administrative assistants are considered a “jack of all trades.” In other words, you may be called upon to assist with numerous tasks that may be outside the reach of a traditional secretary or other office employee. This means it is important for you to develop as many useful business skills as possible; making you an integral part of daily operations for a wide group of employees.

Typical Workload

Administrative assistants are required for just about everything that occurs within a business. You may take on a secretarial role at some times (answering and directing phone calls) or you could be required to support a project team, an executive, or other tasks as needed.

Some of the most common tasks you will perform as an administrative assistant include:

  • Maintaining daily workflow by studying methods and implementing cost reducing strategies. You may also develop efficient reporting procedures that can be implemented throughout a company for more uniform reporting procedures.

  • Analyzing operating practices, record-keeping systems, and budgetary requirements to find shortcomings with potential for improvement. Once these areas have been identified, you could be responsible for implementing these changes within the office environment.

  • Assisting in the training and development of other administrative staff. This may include educational and training opportunities for other employees as directed by management.

  • Ensuring proper operation of office equipment including preventive maintenance, arranging for repairs, and maintaining consumable equipment inventories (toner, paper, staples, etc.)

  • Assigning administrative projects to other team members including secretaries and subordinate administrative assistants as required ensuring projects are finished correctly and within deadline.

Administrative assistants may be required to perform many other duties depending on the company’s workload. In many cases, you will be asked to perform duties typically associated with an executive assistant (i.e. working directly with an executive to complete a specific project).

Skills & Tools

As an administrative assistant, the most important tool you will use is a computer. Businesses rely almost exclusively on computer and networking systems to increase productivity and efficiency within the workplace. If you are not comfortable using computers, consider taking Computer Essentials to get up to speed with basic computer use in an office setting.

In addition to a basic understanding of using computers, you should also be familiar with productivity suite such as Microsoft Office. Within this suite, the primary programs you will rely on are Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Microsoft Word is typically used to generate memos and reports; an important part of your job as an administrative assistant. These reports may be viewed by clients or executives so understanding how to effectively use the program to produce visually attractive results is a must. The Microsoft Word 2010 course explains the ins and outs of using Word effectively.

PowerPoint is used to create slideshow presentations. These might be used to train new employees or to demonstrate the value of a product to clients. Either way, make sure you are getting the most out of PowerPoint with a PowerPoint 2013 course.

Email has become the language of the business world. With few exceptions, most interoffice and external communications are done via email because it is faster and easier than conventional “snail mail.”

Your office may use Microsoft Exchange for email services or another provider, such as Gmail. In addition to familiarizing yourself with how to use the email program itself, it’s a good idea to learn some strategies for effective email communication. Writing Effective Business Emails teaches you how to write powerful business communications designed for email.

Since you’re often tasked with maintaining office equipment such as printers and fax machines, you are well served to learn basic computer networking terminology and principles. Learn Computer Networking teaches you the basics of computer networking; making you a useful asset within the office capable of correcting minor IT problems without creating a service ticket and working directly with the IT department.

Your role as an administrative assistant means you will be communicating with a variety of associates every day. One minute you could be talking to a high-level executive and the next minute you could be conversing with another administrative assistant down the hall.

Learning effective communication strategies that can be applied to all of these interactions is another essential skill. Your ability to maintain a professional demeanor when speaking with anyone within the company (or to a client) significantly boosts your value within the office setting.

Administrative assistants are in high demand right now. There has been a noticeable shift to technology-based companies (even in markets that have been historically low tech) and companies need tech savvy administrative assistants to provide support for the office environment without months of additional training.

By understanding these job skill requirements now, you can position yourself as the perfect candidate for almost any available administrative assistant position with room to advance into more significant roles quickly.