ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT FAST STATS
An administrative assistant helps an office run smoothly and helps managers make sure their teams have all they need to get the job done, whatever it may be.
A common administrative assistant job description includes:
- answering and directing phone calls and emails from clients
- managing calendars, events and travel arrangements for colleagues
- maintaining filing systems
- setting up rooms and equipment for meetings and presentations
- ordering supplies
- arranging for repairs
Administrative assistant jobs are some of the most important positions because they are the oil in the engine of every office. Things can break down pretty quickly without them. They use, among others, the following skills to keep offices running smoothly.
Any administrative assistant job description can be boiled down to this: Do whatever is needed to support senior administrators and administrative staff -- people like managers, directors, and coordinators.
Administrators don’t like to have to worry about things running smoothly; they simply expect them to. They expect the lights to turn on, the conference rooms to be set up, their teams to have the information and resources they need, and their calendars to be updated.
That’s a lot of detail-oriented work that administrators don’t have time to do, which is precisely what administrative assistants are for.
So, the details of administrative assistant jobs might look like small potatoes when taken task by task but when taken altogether, the broad knowledge of office organizational functioning required to do them effectively becomes clear pretty quickly and ultimately reveals how indispensable they really are.
1. Great administrative assistants are good managers.
They recognize when systems are working well and they support them so that they stay that way. Management training can be a great idea, but it’s also something you can become after years of experience in most administrative assistant jobs.
2. Great administrative assistants are multitaskers.
They manage multiple ongoing tasks at the same time and coordinate with all the different people involved in them to make sure the job is done right.
3. Great administrative assistants are indispensable.
Companies and institutions grow to rely on great administrative assistants like they can’t do without them, and they tend to treat them that way. That’s because great administrative assistants:
- manage time well under pressure
- are great problem solvers
- have strong interpersonal skills
- communicate well with all types of people
All companies value these qualities or soft skills in their administrative assistants and prioritize them whenever possible when deciding who to hire. Often an administrative assistant salary reflects the level of expertise in such skills.
A day may begin when administrators decide their employees need training, so administrative assistants go about helping to arrange it all. They plan and set-up relevant workshops, seminars, courses and other professional development for staff in need.
When the supply of paper, pens, staples and sticky notes gets low, administrative assistants are on it; they order all the supplies needed to keep the ship afloat. When the copy machine breaks, the administrative assistant tries to get the repair people to come in that same day.
When an administrator or members of her team need to travel for work, the administrative assistant books flights, hotels and other transportation and dining if necessary. When administrators or members of their team need items delivered across town the same day, the administrative assistant arranges for a courier to come within the hour.
''Administrative assistants are the oil in the engine of every office. Things can break down pretty quickly without them.''
When it’s time to pay for all this stuff, it’s the administrative assistant that collects the invoices, arranges the receipts, writes up the expense reports and submits all the paperwork to the right department to process payment.
As the typical day rolls on, administrative assistants are constantly performing basic duties. It’s a really good idea to train up on and practice the skills needed to perform these duties if you’re preparing for your first job as an administrative assistant. Basic duties include:
- answer phones
- update calendars
- direct incoming calls and emails
- write reports for administrators
- make sure procedures and rules are followed
- taking dictation
- greet guests
- develop and maintain filing systems
- receive and distribute mail
- write reports to follow office protocol
- make sure records are kept
- compose emails & memos
- arrange appointments
- copy/scan confidential documents
- coordinate with other admin. assistants working for other senior administrators
- supervise interns and junior staff
A high-school degree is the minimum education required, but employers usually favor applicants with more qualifications.
The ideal administrative assistant resume lists a college degree and at least 5 years experience as an administrative assistant, office administrative assistant, executive assistant, and sometimes secretarial experience is acceptable.
Employers will probe for any extended experience understanding an office’s procedures and systems in their administrative assistant interview questions. Any information that details this kind of experience is a good focus on an administrative assistant cover letter complimenting a resume.
In 2017 the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) lists the median administrative assistant salary at $37,870 per year and median pay rate at $18.21 per hour. Though the BLS projects a 5% decline in available administrative assistant positions by 2026, the upward mobility potential once an administrative assistant position is landed is above average.
"U.S. News and World Report's Money section lists administrative assistant in its best jobs category..."
U.S. News and World Report’s Money section lists administrative assistant in its best jobs category and includes reviews and advice from administrative assistants and those hiring them. They classify upward mobility among administrative assistants as above average and stress levels as below average, rating administrative assistant high in job satisfaction.
They also identify training as giving those seeking an administrative assistant position a real advantage over other applicants. It can also help prepare you to give great answers to administrative assistant interview questions and write a stand-out administrative assistant cover letter.
Your administrative assistant cover letter and your answers to administrative assistant interview questions are also great opportunities to highlight the soft skills employers are looking for in an effective administrative assistant.
You’ll need plenty of hard skills or technical skills too to be an effective administrative assistant. There’s a list of some below.
Administrative assistants have to be effective communicators. They take care of tasks and arrangements administrators don’t have time for, so they are always communicating with almost everyone in the office and many clients, visitors and others outside the office as well. This means lots of writing (reports, presentations, emails, letters memos) and lots of speaking on the phone and in person (with clients, colleagues, senior managers, etc).
Microsoft Office software such as PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Publisher, Outlook and others are the primary tools most offices use to create presentations, documents, spreadsheets, and more. This is the basis of an administrative assistant’s responsibilities, so they’ll be using Microsoft Office all the time from the moment they begin working.
Multitasking is at the heart of administrative assistants’ responsibilities.
They have to work on multiple projects at once and solve problems that pop-up unexpectedly at the same time. Being organized enough to handle it is a top priority.
Part of being well-organized is knowing yourself well enough to plan out the use of your time to get multiple tasks accomplished simultaneously. Effective administrative assistants prioritize according to deadline, resources and their own personal bandwidth to get things done.
Administrators usually don’t have time to deal with smaller details of their assignments and projects. That’s why they have assistants. The administrative assistant makes sure all the t’s are crossed and all the i’s are dotted, literally and figuratively.
Again, administrative assistants keep the office running. They keep the machines functioning and the supplies full. They make sure the wheels don’t fall off the wagon, and it takes constant vigilance.
In many ways the administrative assistant is the face of a company or organization in that they are the gateway between clients or guests and the managers and administrators. Administrative assistants are a big part of making a good impression for clients and potential clients. It’s important for an administrative assistant to be able to help people feel welcome and taken care of.
- Office manager
- Executive assistant
- Office administrator
- Office assistant
- Medical receptionist
- Office clerk