What to Look For In A Great Administrative Assistant

As technology has evolved, so has the role, responsibilities and skills required to succeed as an administrative assistant. Today’s top administrative assistants are tech-savvy and multi-talented. They are key components of a successful organization and should be valued by that organization.

And while the job of an administrative assistant has evolved, many employers have not evolved in the way they recruit, interview, hire, retain, and train administrative assistants. The best of the best have a diverse skill set that companies use to maximize their potential. That skill set goes far beyond answering phones, scheduling appointments and greeting customers or clients.

“In many cases, administrative professionals are taking on new responsibilities in areas such as technology, social media, event planning, and budgeting,” says Brandi Britton, Los Angeles district president of OfficeTeam, a leading temporary administrative staffing firm. “Hiring managers need administrative professionals who are versatile, adaptable, and resourceful and show initiative.”

So, what should today’s employers look for when hiring a great administrative assistant?

According to Office of the Future project, a joint-project between OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Professionals® that explores how to hire all-star administrative staff and maximize their potential, these are among the top traits and attributes shared among the best administrative professionals:

  • Firms are looking for administrative professionals with a combination of experience, technical skills and interpersonal qualities, and are a good fit with the workplace culture.
  • Microsoft Office skills are a must-have for administrative professionals in today’s workplace, but many employers are also seeking proficiency in database management software, including FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Access, and familiarity with SAP or other enterprise resource planning systems.
  • Executives said time management (39 percent) is the most important skill for success in the administrative profession, and identified flexibility (38 percent) as the top attribute.
  • Good administrative professionals not only keep everything they’re working on organized and on track, but they’re often responsible for making sure executives and team members stay on schedule, too.
  • It’s not uncommon for administrative staff to work on a number of different assignments at the same time, making it necessary to know how to prioritize things so nothing falls between the cracks.
  • Cost control remains a priority for companies, so employers want individuals with evidence of business acumen, including past successes in creating efficiencies and saving their firms money.
  • Companies are relying on their administrative staff more than ever to help with various projects, even when it’s not something that’s in their typical job description.

“Busy managers often delegate work to their administrative professionals, and support staff also can be tasked with making important workplace decisions on behalf of their bosses,” says Britton.

As such, tact, diplomacy and strong critical-thinking skills are also coveted. Sixty percent of senior managers said administrative staff are more valued now by their companies than they were 10 years ago.

“Because they are often the main contact for internal and external parties, administrative staff must have excellent verbal and written communication skills,” said Britton.

Today’s administrative professional is highly-talented, skilled and versatile. They are a key component of a successful business. The above examples are what to look for in a great administrative assistant.

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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via resumesbymatt.com, connect with him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/mattkrumrie/) and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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