Being a good administrative assistant is not easy. It requires a lot of hard work, sometimes longer hours, more tasks, more deadlines and more drive. Not everyone is cut out to be an administrative assistant, much less a good one. A combination of motivation and professionalism is key, but what else makes an administrative assistant cream of the crop?
Administrative assistants function as the eyes and ears of the company. They ensure that the office runs in a smooth and efficient manner while seeing to daily administrative tasks and duties. Administrative assistants regularly make critical decisions, and executives can only be as good as their assistants. Being a competent, driven assistant is essential.
Be prepared for a demanding role as administrative assistant. Functioning as the right hand of an executive, the assistant must be ready for almost anything—meaning that quick reflexes and critical thinking are required. An administrative assistant must be able to resolve issues without constant supervision or input from an executive but must also be able to think outside of the box when it comes to tough situations. For any of these things to be possible, the administrative assistant must be organized and prepared.
Strong communication skills make a good administrative assistant invaluable. The ability to relay information in a clear and concise manner, or tactfully answer an email or draft a letter, is a skill that not many boast on a resume. Being able to interact with clients and coworkers in a professional manner and represent the company in the best possible light is an important trait. Administrative assistants should always include such skills on resumes and cover letters, as they are a key aspect of the responsibilities and duties of this critical role.
The ability to use technology well and efficiently is another important skill for excellent administrative assistants. They must have top-notch computer and productivity software skills in order to do their job properly. Familiarity with all the technological tools of the office, including customer-relations software, contact-management systems and conferencing systems, makes the jobs of both the assistant and the boss easier.
However, none of these skills will get administrative assistants anywhere if they aren't flexible. Without flexibility, the executive is suddenly required to pick up where the assistant left off—and that rarely goes over well. The ability to adapt and work around the needs of the executive, the clients, the general office and other employees makes an administrative assistant irreplaceable.
Organization, communication, technological skill and flexibility are all skills that the star administrative assistant has—and often strives to continuously improve. Without these skills, an administrative assistant may never rise past the level of ordinary assistant, who is given only minimal responsibility along with minimal salary.
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