Administrative assistants are in place to support a company, team or manager. Although they act as the lifeblood for most businesses, there is a common misconception that it’s an easy job that anyone can do. This, however, is not true, and there are many very specific qualities that differentiate a good administrative assistant from a great one.
With the economy in poor shape, many businesses have been forced to cut back their staff, so the responsibilities of administrative assistants have increased significantly. Read on to find out more about the highly sought after qualities hiring managers and recruiters in administrative staffing look for in a great administrative assistant.
1. Communication Skills
Communication, interpersonal relationship and listening skills are possibly the top desired qualities every company looks for in an administrative assistant. One reason for this is that the administrative assistant will likely be the first point of contact for clients or customers. In order to take unnecessary pressure off of the management team, the assistant will answer and screen phone calls, greet visitors and assist clients with their questions or concerns so that upper-level executives can run the business without being disturbed. However, this is no easy task, as many clients that are reaching out to an organization are upset, confused or otherwise unhappy, so the assistant must be able to listen, understand and react appropriately. On top of this, administrative assistants must be able to accurately relay messages and information, so outstanding communication skills are crucial for success.
2. Organizational Skills
If a company needs an administrative assistant, it’s likely because the business is fast-paced and very busy. The assistant is brought in to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with day-to-day operations, but that can be tricky when there are a countless amount of responsibilities to take care of. Another very important quality of a highly effective administrative assistant is organizational skills. If the assistant does not know how to prioritize and keep track of everything that needs to be done, something might slip through the cracks, causing a more severe situation down the road. Whether it’s organizing files or booking meetings, a great administrative assistant will be able to handle it all with no exceptions.
3. Time Management Skills
Right up there with organizational skills, time management is crucial for administrative assistants. Although there may not be enough time in the day to get through everything that needs to be done, your job as an assistant is to make it happen. Prioritization and the ability to work through distractions help keep you focused, and you know when it’s time to move from one task to the next. These are things that every company needs in an assistant in order for the organization to operate smoothly. Additionally, it is very important that administrative assistants are conscientious of business hours and are always punctual to work, meetings and other scheduled functions. Even a few minutes here and there can cause confusion and disorder.
4. Dependability and Reliability
Because of the amount of responsibility placed on most administrative assistants, an important quality employers look for is level of dependability and reliability. Responsibilities and work hours are not always cut and dry for those in a busy office. Employers want to know that their assistants are willing to go above and beyond when urgent situations arise without any complaints or hesitation. Additionally, administrative assistants must be reliable when it comes to day-to-day work. Managers must be able to trust things are getting done correctly without having to micromanage.
Administrative assistants are right in the middle of all conversations, business deals and other communication floating around the office. However, being privy to an abundance of information, confidential or meaningless, comes with great responsibility. A great assistant knows not to disclose information regarding client or business matters, and employers will also look for someone that stays out of personal gossip with others in the office.
6. Customer or Client Service Orientation
Customer service orientation is a desirable quality in nearly every profession. However, for administrative assistants, this is especially important because they deal with both internal and external clients on a daily basis. No matter how skilled an assistant is in every other area, if he or she is not personally invested in helping others and guaranteeing satisfaction, the company will not benefit. An administrative assistant must know how to work with clients, find out what they need and want and deliver it with ease. A positive experience with the assistant will reflect positively on the business overall.