Secretary Job Description: Skills for Success

secretaryjobdescriptionAs a secretary, you are tasked with providing clerical and administrative support in an office environment. You may be working as part of an administrative team or individually for a specific person or office.

Secretaries play a vital role in business. Not only are you responsible for handling phone calls and other correspondence, but secretaries often have to draft memos and reports that are integral to daily operations.  Professionals within the office will depend on your ability to accomplish a variety of tasks quickly and efficiently. Secretaries are always busy so learning how to maximize productivity is an essential skill.

Skilled and experienced secretaries are needed in just about every business sector, making it a career choice with lots of opportunity in a very competitive marketplace.

Typical Workload

Your role as a secretary will vary based on the business you work for. Some secretaries are assigned to a specific duty such as answering and directing phone calls, while others have a much broader job description that could entail basic IT work, assisting with payroll, and maintaining large databases and filing systems.

Some of the common tasks you will perform as a secretary include:

  • Using software such as Microsoft Office to produce written communications within the company. You may also be required to use proprietary software to record transactions or modify the contents of a database.

  • Maintaining office equipment (such as replacing toner cartridges).

  • Creating and maintaining a schedule for use within the office. You could be tasked with monitoring the schedule of a specific professional or you may need to oversee the schedules of every other employee within the office environment.

  • Using content management systems (such as WordPress) to maintain internal and external websites. You may also use CMS software to work with databases within the company.

  • Booking conference rooms and facilities for staff meetings and presentations with clients.

  • Many secretaries are also responsible for assisting new employees successfully complete the hiring process. This might include training new employees on office systems and entering their information into company databases for payroll, health benefits, etc.

As a secretary, you are often tasked with working directly with clients. In many cases you are considered the face of the company as clients will speak with you before anyone else in the company. This means you should be prepared to communicate professionally and effectively with clients who call, email, or stop by the office.

Skills & Tools

Most businesses rely on computer systems for daily operations. Your role as a secretary requires that you understand how to use computers effectively. In addition, you need to understand how to use standard office software such as Microsoft Office and any proprietary software the business may rely on to function efficiently.

You will be required to create memos for company wide distribution and possibly graphics to accompany these memos. Microsoft Word is a great way to creates these memos quickly and easily. You can learn more about using Microsoft Word effectively in Fast Track to Microsoft Word.

You will be writing a lot of emails as well. These may be internal emails or written directly to clients or other businesses. Writing Effective Business Emails teaches techniques that are invaluable for creating effective business communications through email.

To create attractive graphics for presentations and handouts, Microsoft Visio (usually included in the Microsoft Office suite) works well and is relatively easy to learn. Even if you’re not a graphic designer, you can use Visio or other graphic editing programs to create attractive diagrams and other graphics. Learn Microsoft Visio explains how to create attractive diagrams quickly and easily.

PowerPoint is also used extensively in a business setting. You should be acquainted with creating slideshow presentations using PowerPoint. A professional within the company may ask you to create a presentation for them personally or for distribution to a client. These presentations need to work well and be visually attractive. PowerPoint Made Easy helps you master PowerPoint quickly.

Although most computer related issues are solved by the IT department in your company, a well-rounded secretary should also understand basic networking principles. Learn Computer Networking  teaches basic computer networking which you can apply within the office setting. You will definitely impress superiors by having basic knowledge of computer systems and how they interact with printers and other network hardware.

Communication is an important skill that you must also master as a secretary. As already mentioned, you will be working one-on-one with clients in many cases and your ability to communicate effectively and professionally is one of the most important skills you need as a valuable part of your office team.

Many businesses have integrated Microsoft SharePoint as a way for professionals to share calendar information and other project information with one another. Secretaries are often responsible for updating these calendars and modifying information that is viewable to other employees using the SharePoint system. Although the basics of SharePoint are relatively simple, you can maximize your use of this program with the Microsoft SharePoint Foundations course.

As you can see, secretaries have an important and variable role in most office environments. This makes it a very exciting opportunity that is unlikely to get boring anytime in the near future. When you consider the high demand for professional secretaries, this is a career path that offers ample opportunities, competitive wages, and the possibility for advancement into managerial positions in the future.