What makes a good administrative assistant?

As the 'eyes and ears of a company', administrative professionals handle the day to day administration for an individual, network or team. With their unique overview of the company, administrative staff are regularly called upon to make business critical decisions – it's no exaggeration to say that an executive is only as good as their assistant.

Administrative staff are valued for their:

  • Organized approach
  • Communication skills
  • Personable phone manner
  • Initiative
  • PC literacy
  • Honesty and discretion
  • Time management
  • Team ethic
  • Ability to cope with pressure
  • Professionalism

These are the basics, but there will always be elements specific to the role. You could say that the most valuable asset a administrative assistant can have is the ability to think on their feet!

Administrative roles are demanding, with typical tasks including drafting letters and emails, schedule management, organizing travel and paying expenses. Such diverse duties may fall under the remit of either a secretary or administrator, with the difference between these roles defined primarily by formal secretarial qualifications; a secretary must touch type (50wpm) and be proficient in the use of the Microsoft suite, while the typing speed of an administrator is immaterial and they often contribute on a project by project basis.

Employers definitely look for stability on a resume as this demonstrates resilience and considered choices. An ambitious candidate will refresh their career every couple of years, once they have mastered a role and developed it. The accepted wisdom is that this is the perfect time to take on more responsibility, perhaps developing the project management and supervisory aspects of the role. The alternative is to make a sideways move within the organization or look to pasture new for the next challenge.

Michael Page International specializing in Administrative jobs

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