If you think an administrative assistant as someone who fetches coffee, sorts the mail, and spends all day just answering phones and taking messages, it’s time for a reassessment.
An administrative assistant is a manager’s right and left hand. They keep the office running at top speed, with everything in its place and all deadlines kept top of mind.
Administrative assistants are of the utmost importance in busy offices and need to do a little bit of everything each day to be their most successful.
There’s always room to learn something new, of course, or to build on skills you already have. Here are a few skills you can pick up to impress your current boss — or your future one — as a knock-out administrative assistant.
Speak the language.
Whatever kind of work a company does, there’s a lingo that goes with it. Become well-versed in it and be ready to use it comfortably and fluently, like you’d study a foreign language before traveling to a new country. Read industry materials, listen carefully in meetings, and do whatever you can to familiarize yourself with how upper-level staff speak about various projects and initiatives and then use the same phrases yourself when discussing projects. It’s a small step, but it can make a big difference.
Know the top priority projects and keep them running.
Every office always has a list of things in the works. If a big conference or convention is coming up, expect the to-do list to at least double, especially in the week or two before things kick-off. A stellar administrative assistant has all of these things in mind when new tasks come in and will be able to discern what’s a top, urgent, important priority and what’s a second-tier demand. They’ll also understand when someone new comes in that’s a true drop-everything-and-refocus kind of emergency. And they’ll change course and delegate with skill, precision and a polite but firm direction that makes sure everything gets done on time.
Keep an eye on the bottom line.
Businesses are made and broken by the financial bottom line. A good administrative assistant will develop a sense of when a project’s running over budget or if there’s a little wiggle room in which to move. If you can find ways to cut costs without cutting corners, develop the confidence to speak up and make suggestions. Once your manager sees you’re making cost-effective suggestions, you’ll become a trusted source of information and will only grow in their esteem.
Know your technology.
This goes beyond having a fast set of typing fingers; it’s about knowing how to refresh websites, knowing how to reboot things and how to update social media profiles. It’s building relationships online as well as off. It knows when to draw your manager’s attention to new software and online tools that can help create efficiencies and when to recognize something like a fad that will pass quickly and isn’t worthy of too much time or attention. It’s also acknowledging that spending too much time on the email takes valuable minutes and hours away from everything else and that setting times for routine tasks like answering messages makes everything more efficient and effective.
Be an expert communicator.
Speaking politely and is the tip of the iceberg. Learn to take great notes and share them after meetings. Understand the flow of a project and who needs to be alerted at what point in the process when something changes or is reassigned. Know how to answer phones with a voice that makes everyone feel welcome and valued, even if you’re having one of those days. Proofread all correspondence and notes for grammar and spelling before hitting “send” to make sure everything’s easy to understand.
An administrative assistant is a Jack or Jill of all trades, always juggling multiple tasks and always aware that another item could come out of nowhere at any minute. Keep these skills sharp, and you’ll become an even more valued and essential member of your company.
Contact LeadingEdge Personnel
Or, if you’re looking to become an administrative assistant but need a little help finding the right office, contact LeadingEdge. We have a history of working with great clients who respect and recognize top talent, and we can put you in touch with them today.