STEP 1: Research the Administrative Assistant Field
Currin Berdine / AdminSecret with expert advice from Joan Burge, CEO and Founder of Office Dynamic
Not sure if a career as an administrative assistant is right for you? Not sure where to get started learning about it? Luckily for you, AdminSecret has done the research! Find out what admins really do all day.
Joan Burge, an expert consultant to administrative professionals, outlines the most essential 12 key competencies of an admin in her book, Become an Inner Circle Assistant. Thanks to her, here are the 12 roles and responsibilities a quality admin must know.
1. Appointment Coordination. This is one of the most vital parts of an admin’s job. If appointments are not scheduled for the right day, time, and place the entire business suffers.
2. Manager Support. Supporting your boss is a two-way street — there has to be communication and teamwork so you can do your admin job successfully. This involves, but is not limited to, coordinating calendars, organizing and prioritizing correspondence (email, packages, calls, etc.), arranging travel, greeting and hosting visitors, and more.
3. Managing Office Technology. Burge starts this chapter off with, “Office technology proliferates, and if we don’t manage it, it will probably manage us.” Sounds funny, but it’s true. You must be willing and capable of handling all aspects of equipment and technology — emails, telephones, copy and fax machines, climate control, media, etc. You might have an IT department to help you, but your managers will rely on you to take care of things.
4. Meeting Preparation & Coordination. Today’s admin schedules and facilitates, coordinates, and prepares meetings for the whole team. Interested? Read more on meeting planning 101.
5. Office Communication. Nothing gets done in any organization without constant and accurate communication — verbal communication between people inside and outside the office as well as nonverbal communication. It also takes careful and tactful speaking — with more listening than speaking. Think you’ve got what it takes? Learn more communication tips for today’s admin.
6. Office Organization. You can’t maintain a well-run, clean, and efficient workplace without organization. It is an admin’s duty to make sure office areas — their bosses’ and their own — are totally organized and easy to navigate. For more, see our section on organization skills.
7. Problem Solving. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Admins always have to overcome. The idea that your managers should handle all office issues is totally outdated. The modern administrative assistant steps up to the plate and makes it happen.
8. Professional Behavior & Image. Administrative assistants are the first people most employees and clients see when they walk into an office. They are the embodiment of their company’s image to everyone. So pay attention to the way you dress, your voice over the phone, and your (inviting) smile. Appearance and attitude are essential aspects of an assistant’s job — you’re a star!
9. Professional Development. It’s important to remember that even though you’re supporting management, you should stay in control of your career. Joan Burge suggests many ways to “take charge of your own career,” but just a few simple ways are setting goals, taking risks, listening actively, and impressing people.
10. Supporting Multiple Managers. Supporting one than one manager can sometimes feel like you are juggling balls of fire … on a moving train. Some admins assist four to five managers, while others might organize an entire team of 30 plus! They show you how to juggle your work for multiple bosses.
11. Task & Project Management. We think that administrative assistants tend to have exciting and fun projects, such as organizing a party or arranging a month-long business trip for their boss to China. They might seem daunting, but with enough organization and communication super admins can do any task that’s put in front of them.
12. Time Management . This is a critical element of being an admin that is can actually get overlooked or dismissed. The key is to prioritize and organize your time. No administrative assistant should be wasting time finding stamps for tomorrow’s mailing when they have to find some for today’s! Don’t be on time with tasks — be early.
Joan expands on each of these 12 competencies in her book Becoming an Inner Circle Office Assistant.