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The Nature of Administrative Jobs

Posted by Ashley Ryall On Feb 8, 2012 2:21:00 PM
The Nature of Administrative Jobs

There are certain skills required to be considered for any job, so what makes administrative jobs different in that regard?  In the majority of organizations, administrative jobs are an indispensible part of that organization’s success, serving as the foundation for upholding fundamental business practices. Without these professionals and their skills, a business as a whole would struggle to maintain daily operations over time.  

In addition to having exceptional communication skills and in many cases a strong level of client-facing professionalism, having a flexible attitude with the ability to multi-task and work well under pressure are just a few core skills an employer will looks for in an excellent administrative professional.

Even though there are common, yet distinctive traits deemed necessary to excel at most administrative positions, an administrative job can take many forms and can even evolve into different roles based on the needs of the organization and the individual strengths of the administrative professional. In fact, under the administrative umbrella lies a range of positions which require a unique set of competencies. Here are a few we work with frequently:

Temporary & General Administrative

In these roles, it is crucial that you have the ability to wear several different hats. You may be reporting to more than one person, or even to a whole team. In addition to providing support, you may be asked to undertake reception/front desk, light bookkeeping or even vendor relations duties. Therefore, it is important to be flexible and have experience in situations where priorities constantly change.

Legal Administrative

Like other types of administrative roles, written communication skills are a necessity.  Boston.com featured an article, “Rate my resume,” where Boston’s top HR professionals evaluated a handful of different industry-specific resumes. One resume represented an experienced legal secretary looking for career advancement (Full article here).  In their evaluation of this resume, McDermott Will & Emery’s Boston office Administrator, Linda Mangini and HR Manager, Wini Chase expressed doubt that this sample candidate “would be able to draft a letter or proofread accurately for attorneys.”

Unlike general administrative positions, legal administrative careers generally require extensive knowledge of legal documentation and procedures, as well as a level of familiarity or proficiency in certain software (Elite, CPi, Timeslips, etc.) 

Executive Assistant

The nature of an Executive Assistant position is often tailored to an executive’s personal preferences and comes with an inherent need for the highest level of professionalism.  Additionally, you must be a forward-thinking, detail-oriented organizer with the ability to anticipate. Coinciding with typical responsibilities (calendaring, travel arrangements, etc.), Staffing Consultant—Direct Hire Division Chris Wallingford asserts, “Formality counts; Executive Assistants will find themselves in the position of speaking on behalf of the executive so it is essential s/he can do so competently both verbally and in writing.“

In summary, there are many different types of administrative job out there, each with their own unique set of skills and core competencies. It is obviously important to know the nature of the specific type of administrative position for which you are applying including the core capabilities required to be successful.  Just as important however, are the “soft-skills” required and organizational culture in which the job exits…without this complete picture of the job you risk failure.

 Note: utilize the available resources out there to help you better understand how to pitch yourself as a talented and experienced administrative professional as well as assess the suitability of a specific administrative job to your individual profile….Good Luck! 

What key skills did you possess that helped you excel at your Administrative job?

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