10 tips to become the best administrative assistant
The job of an administrative assistant involves a lot more than answering phone calls and organizing agendas. Executive assistants are actually a key piece in any company, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that work can get done successfully.
If you’re wondering how to be the best administrative assistant, what skills are required to excel at an administrative assistant job, and how to develop administrative assistant skills, then keep reading to find out all the answers to these questions.
What are good skills for an administrative assistant?
Admin assistants play a support role, which means that they need a set of different skills to perform their job successfully. From organizing the office to managing schedules, setting up meetings, and communicating on behalf of the company’s executives, some of the most important skills needed are definitely organizational and communication skills.
However, this might sound a little too generic. Because executive assistants perform very different tasks and coordinate different departments, a different skill set may be needed depending on the job. Let’s go into detail about what are good skills for an administrative assistant in the following list.
How to be a great administrative assistant: 10 tips
1. Work on your technology skills
Technology plays a key role in any administrative assistant’s job. From knowing how to use different browsers to mastering Microsoft Office apps such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, or any other software that’s relevant to the business you work in, your knowledge of these systems should be impeccable. If you’re working in a specific sector, it really helps to be aware of what the most commonly used software is and learn how to use it.
2. Perfect your communication skills
Executive assistants are the link between different departments within the company, as well as between the company and its customers. Because of this, they will often be considered the voice of the company and should therefore make sure they speak as such.
Whether they’re writing an email or speaking on the phone, their grammar, tone, and manners should be excellent. Administrative professionals should also know how to tailor their voice to fit interactions with different persons and, last but not least, be good listeners.
3. Master time management
This is a very important administrative skill to develop, as there will always be many tasks to perform and many deadlines to stay on top of. Another reason why it’s so necessary is that administrative assistants, as a support person to different roles, may find themselves with a sudden increase of work volume.
4. Learn to prioritize
This one is very related to time management and project management. When work seems to multiply faster than you realize and time is restricted, knowing how to prioritize becomes crucial. Prioritizing is important also when managing other people’s calendars and coordinating the office, all while having your own list of tasks to do on the side, too.
5. Perfect your customer service skills
Depending on the company, an administrative assistant position may require them to be in direct contact with customers. This is why successful administrative assistants should be able to communicate with customers effectively and according to company standards. Being a good listener, knowing how to handle complaints, and having excellent written and verbal skills are all crucial to making the best impression on customers.
6. Pay attention to detail
Because their work is often essential to ensure the office as a whole can work properly, attention to detail is a key skill that any administrative assistant should have. Whether it’s avoiding and correcting grammar mistakes, processing data, or organizing events, one mistake can have a big impact.
7. Be organized
Another trait of great executive assistants is their ability to organize their work, that of the roles they support, and the office in general. From schedules to deadlines, meetings, and office supplies, good administrative assistants have excellent organizational skills and are able to stay on top of things thanks to effective organizational systems.
8. Flexible and resourceful
Things can always change or go wrong, that’s why executive assistants need to be always ready to jump in and come up with solutions to unexpected problems. This is a very much-appreciated skill in fast-paced environments, where troubleshooting is part of everyday work. Being able to provide solutions in times of need allows their coworkers to continue with their work, and to avoid the risk of the business coming to a halt any time an issue comes up.
9. Be able to work independently
Administrative assistants are great team players, but they should also be able to take ownership of different tasks that may come up and be able to get them done without asking for help.
We’re not saying that an administrative assistant should never ask for help, but due to the nature of the job and the wide range of tasks they help with, there will often be new challenges to deal with. Being able not only to come up with efficient solutions, but to also carry them out independently is a very valuable asset for any administrative assistant role.
10. Knowing how to coordinate an office
Administrative assistants are often also office managers. Being able to multitask, anticipate, deal with suppliers, handle office equipment, and be the link between the office and the external world are all necessary skills to have when in charge of coordinating an entire office.
Some of the tasks administrative assistants will face in this area include monitoring stock levels, ordering supplies, booking meetings and events, organizing catering, and booking travel. Organization skills and good problem-solving skills will definitely help when it comes to coordinating an office.
While many of these skills can be developed on the job by entry-level assistants, many of them are actually required beforehand on job descriptions. Sometimes they can be acquired through work experience, while other times they are related to a person's personality.
When it comes to education, some administrative assistant jobs accept applicants who have a high-school diploma, while others require a bachelor's degree. In any case, it's always better to complete some form of professional training to develop your skills.