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The ultimate guide to administrative tasks and duties

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What are administrative skills?

Administrative skills comprise both hard and soft skills held by those in administrative positions. Ultimately, administrative skills are related to the running of a business and increasing office productivity. They include communication and organizational skills, as well as project management skills, bookkeeping skills, and time management skills. 

Administrative skills are important to the following roles:

Examples of administrative skills

Depending on each business, those in administrative positions will have a different set of administrative skills. For example, some industries and businesses will require skills in a specific software platform, while others may require a background in event planning and coordination. 

There are, however, several common skills that apply to almost every position. Here are some administrative skills examples—commonly found in any administrative job description—that will help you gain a broad understanding of the general skills required for these roles. 

1. Strong organizational skills

Administrative and organizational skills go hand in hand. Not only do those in administrative positions keep on top of competing priorities by multitasking in often fast-paced environments, they often help their managers juggle their schedules, too. 

Some common examples of organization skills are:

  • Organizing and maintaining records, files, and databases
  • Scheduling appointments and maintaining calendars
  • Writing memos and transcribing recorded dictation 
  • Creating email templates
  • Making travel arrangements 
  • Organizing office equipment and inventory
  • Creating itineraries for managers
  • Forward planning

2. Communication skills 

Written and verbal communication skills are highly important administrative skills. Since individuals in administrative roles usually need to communicate with a large range of people, they also know how to communicate effectively with different stakeholders. For example, communicating with their manager requires a different style to communicating with clients.

Delegation of tasks is also an integral communication skill, as is the ability to convey complicated information. 

Examples of administrative communication skills include:

  • Absorbing and disseminating information in a practical and understandable way 
  • The ability to effectively communicate with a wide range of people in different ways
  • Clarifying complex information, both written and verbal 

3. Teamwork and interpersonal skills 

Teamwork and interpersonal skills are vital to businesses, and especially so to administrative roles. These skills bring together individuals’ skills in order to achieve business goals.

This involves effectively interacting with and working with a broad range of colleagues of varying seniority across different departments, as well as clients and customers. 

A few examples of teamwork and interpersonal skills include: 

  • The ability to build solid, collaborative relationships with colleagues
  • Adaptability and acting as a team player rather than a lone individual
  • Practicing empathy and communicating well
  • Keeping the broader business goals and objectives in mind while working on tasks
  • Receiving and providing constructive feedback 

4. Customer service skills

Customer-facing administrative roles require a specific set of skills that include the ability to communicate with external clients, solve their problems, show understanding, and ultimately ensure complete customer satisfaction. 

Examples of customer-service related skills include: 

  • Complaint and problem resolution
  • Building customer loyalty 
  • Setting customer expectations
  • Liaising between key colleagues and clients

5. Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills refer to a person’s ability to successfully manage and find solutions for complex and unexpected situations. 

These skills are a combination of analytical, creative, and critical thinking skills, as well as a high level of attention to detail. As well as solving the problems, those in administrative roles can identify the factors that caused the problem and implement changes to mitigate future challenges.

Here are some key problem-solving skills for administrative roles: 

  • The ability to identify problems and decide on the best solution
  • Come up with creative solutions to problems 
  • Confidence in decision making
  • Communicate well when problems arise 

6. Technology and software skills

Technology skills are non-negotiable in administrative roles since office work centers around the use of computers and software to achieve tasks. 

For example, some administrative roles take care of collating office receipts and travel expenses, are involved in payroll processes, and also create and maintain financial reports and spreadsheets. Those in administrative roles are often responsible for accounting and bookkeeping tasks which require skills with accounting and expense software, too. 

Some common technology and software skills include: 

  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office products (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)
  • Ability to use a large range of email clients (Outlook, Gmail)
  • Managing databases
  • Using accounting software
  • Using a travel management platform to organize business travel

How to improve your administrative skills

The above are just a few of the skills required for administrative jobs. If you already possess these skills and are looking to upskill, or if your resume’s skills section is looking bare, it’s time to learn some new skills while refining the ones you already have. 

Here are three tips to help you improve your administrative skills and update your resume. 

1. Learn more about your company and the wider industry

Researching your particular industry and what skills others in similar administrative roles have is a great place to start. Coming across common themes time and time again is a great indicator of where you might have a skills gap. 

You can also ask your manager and/or superiors about the broader company roadmap as well as business objectives to help identify extra skills that will help you be a true team player. 

2. Take advantage of training and development programs

Seek out your company’s internal training and development programs to help bolster your skills as an administrative professional and boost your own career trajectory. If possible, you could also ask your company if they might consider providing tuition reimbursement for any external courses or programs that will help your on-the-job performance. 

3. Seek out challenging new opportunities 

During meetings, listen carefully for opportunities to take on tasks that involve cross-departmental projects, or volunteer to take on new tasks for colleagues who mention they have a little too much on their plate. Not only does this show initiative, but it also helps you diversify your skillset and learn from other administrative assistants and co-workers.