The skills you need to be a successful administrative assistant

By Jana Angeles | 06 May 2019

The first step in becoming a successful administrative assistant is deciding on studying a qualification, or you may already be in an administrative job looking to improve your efficiency in your current role. 

While success may seem like a bit of a stretch, it isn’t impossible to develop your skills as an administrative assistant. 

Not only is it a good stepping stone in business administration, it can help you gain transferable skills that can be applied to any other role, or even work your way up into senior positions like office manager.

Administrative assistants work in a number of departments. Normally they are assigned various tasks to help support their team regarding office administration such as filing, organising and scheduling meetings, business travel and other tasks needed to support the team.

The minimum education requirement for an administrative assistant is the completion of Year 12, however, employers generally want someone with the qualifications so they can be be cross-skilled and complete any task set aside by the team.

While gaining work experience is important for an administrative assistant, having transferable and soft skills amount to their success in the role. 

Not only that, having the bulk of skills listed below can be a great way to move across roles in business administration or even pursue other positions in a different field. Here are some skills you need to help you find success in the role of administrative assistant.

What skills does an administrative assistant need?

  1. Able to use technology and other various applications.
  2. Excellent communication skills.
  3. Organised.
  4. Manage time effectively.
  5. Able to plan ahead.

1. Able to use technology and other various applications.

business man using smartphone

A paperless office could be turned into reality as technology advances and while it’s the norm now to own a smartphone and have the latest high-tech gadget on the market, as an administrative assistant, it’s important to keep up with technology to be successful in your role. 

On a normal day, you could be required to work on Microsoft Office, creating spreadsheets to keep track of everything, using scheduling tools to book meetings and business travel arrangements. 

You could even have the added responsibility of managing the company’s social media pages and be responsible in providing quick responses to customers when answering FAQs. The role of an administrative assistant is a busy job, so being comfortable in using different applications and working on the computer is a must!

2. Excellent communication skills.

communication concept

As an administrative assistant, you may be regularly liaising with people within the office and outside of it. Having excellent customer service skills and written communication not only makes you a great team player, but it shows a great sense of professionalism.

It’s important as an administrative assistant to have top-notch writing skills since you’ll be regularly communicating with suppliers or writing up meeting agendas and minutes too. 

Not only will having excellent communication skills help you excel in your role as administrative assistant, but it can also provide the opportunity to build positive connections with your team and the clients you liaise with on a regular basis. 

3. Organised. 

young woman writing her to-do list

Administrative assistants work on several tasks on a given workday, so it’s important that they have excellent organisation skills. Keeping organised not only promotes efficiency, but it helps them keep on top of their regular tasks without wasting time. 

It’s a juggling act for administrative assistants since they have to keep up with several tasks such as bookkeeping, billing, office administration, sorting and delivering mail and more. 

If you classify yourself as an organised person who loves crossing off your to-do list each time you complete a set task, the role of administration assistant could be a career path worth following

4. Manage time effectively.

time management concept

Time can be the worst enemy if not used efficiently, which is why having excellent time management skills is a must for administrative assistants. From answering emails to keeping up with everyone’s schedules, it’s no wonder they need to be organised too.

To excel in an administrative assistant role, you’ll need to cut back on procrastination and feeling the need to multitask when aiming to get ahead with your priorities. It’s also worthwhile thinking about your daily tasks and finding efficient ways to save time. 

For example, if you know you need to photocopy documents, do them in big chunks to help you make fewer trips to the photocopying machine. It sometimes helps to be strategic in your approach when it comes to certain administrative tasks, especially for some of the menial ones.

5. Able to plan ahead.

planning ahead concept

From one of our Skillstalk archived blogs, Mansi Tayal, Upskilled’s Commercial Business Manager says that the best advice she’s ever been given was from her father. She said, “He told me that spending fifteen minutes each day to plan your day will save you hours of useless work.”  

As mentioned before, administrative assistants are quite busy and they may need to keep track of multiple deadlines to keep their team happy. 

They may need to create a plan when employees fall sick, manage someone else’s appointments or even be responsible for event coordination for the end-of-year Christmas party

Planning ahead not only saves you stress but it helps you keep track of your priorities and manage your time while working. 

It also helps you focus on what needs to get done instead of thinking about the next task you have to do. Planning is the start of good time management habits as not only does it keep you organised but it essentially saves you time

Want to develop your skills even further as an administrative assistant?

If you have the desire to move onto mid-level and senior positions in business administration, take a look at Upskilled’s business admin courses and earn a qualification that complements your work experience. 

Not only does attaining a qualification look attractive to prospective employers, you will feel confident in your highly developed skills and be work-ready in no time.

For further inspiration on the business administration industry, be sure to check out and download the FREE ebook ‘Careers in Business Administration’ for insights, trends and potential career opportunities. 

Upskilled takes pride in ensuring students get the best career outcomes, so if you desire to excel in the role of administrative assistant or similar, be sure to start your business admin course search here. 

Get in touch with a friendly education consultant by calling 1300 009 924 for further information and see if a course is the right fit for you.  
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