Updated May 2023
There's a common misconception that office support staff have it easy. Because they're not primary decision-makers or managing a whole department, many are quick to assume the job is simple—something anyone could do.
Nothing could be further from the truth! Administrative assistants are the engine of every office. They keep daily operations running smoothly, handle all kinds of last-minute emergencies, and in many ways, act as the "face" of a company.
From small start-ups to multinational corporations to government agencies: no organization can thrive without talented, highly skilled administrative support staff.
Taking administrative assistant training or considering enrolling in a program this year? Wondering what it takes to really succeed in this field?
Read on for the four skills and qualities absolutely every employer is looking for in the ideal admin assistant.
1. Excellent Communication and "People" Skills
Administrative assistants are very often put in reception roles, where they answer incoming phone calls and emails, receive clients, organize mail, send out messages, and book appointments. Even if your position doesn't include reception duties, you will need excellent communication skills to coordinate with and assist other team members, deal with clients, and prepare written documents (like memos, emails, and reports).
Administrative assistants are important go-betweens for managers, staff, and clients. Employers look for well-spoken candidates who demonstrate a strong commitment to customer service. In other words, they want assistants who are polite, diplomatic, patient, and articulate—professionals who can solve problems, and make a great impression on customers and business associates.
2. Strong ability to organize information & manage time
Your role as an administrative assistant will likely include a wide range of tasks. You'll be answering phones, greeting clients, and scheduling appointments. At other times, you'll be setting up for meetings, preparing documents, and providing assistance to other staff members.
Chances are, you'll be very busy juggling several responsibilities throughout the day. Your ability to keep calm when the office is busy, and know which duties to attend to first, will be very important to your employer.
It's not that you can never make a mistake—no one can reasonably expect perfection! What's key is your attention to detail and capacity to organize tasks and information in logical ways. If you can handle tight deadlines, a busy environment, and multi-tasking, you'll do very well as an administrative assistant.
3. Totally reliable & trustworthy
Honesty and total reliability are among the most important, highly sought-after skills for administrative assistants. Employers need administrative staff who consistently show up on time, are well-prepared for each day, and can be trusted with confidential information (like client files and billing information).
When a key member of the office support staff is habitually late, or forgets to complete important tasks, the entire department suffers. Works slows down, clients are kept waiting, and documents are not available when needed. When selecting candidates and reviewing performance, you can be certain that hiring managers will look closely at how trustworthy you are.
4. Comfortable with computers and a quick learner
Knowledge of standard office computer programs is a must for every single administrative assistant, no matter where they work. You can expect your administrative assistant training to teach tools like Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint—and procedures like creating spreadsheets and managing databases.
Your employer will value your comfort with these programs, as well as your ability to quickly learn other tech skills, such as WordPress (for updating the company website) and basic social media tools (to answer online requests and share content online).
Every organization will have its own internal technology systems and processes. Some will be unfamiliar to you at the start, but if you have a good grounding in computers and are eager to learn, you will quickly become a huge asset to your employer.
Interested in Learning More About Office Assistant Training?
Take a look at the online Administrative Assistant program from Herzing College. This diploma program takes just seven months to complete and includes a four-week internship for real work experience.
Click below for more information or to chat live with a friendly advisor. We're here to help!