In today's world, administrative assistants must posses software application skills that go above and beyond their managers and the people they support.They usually are the first person that their people go to, even before contacting the company help desk.

 Let's take a look at some of the software you should be expected to know (and what kind is most widely used) and what skill level you should shoot for if you want to be an administrative assistant in today's market:

  •  Word Processing - Microsoft Word.Necessary to create letters, forms, contracts, proposals, etc.You will be expected to go beyond formatting text and setting margins, so make sure your skills are intermediate to advanced.
  • Presentation Software - Microsoft Powerpoint.Usually used to create presentations and slide shows, but can also be used to create flyers, certificates, and anything else that requires some pizzazz and color.Also recommend intermediate to advanced skills.
  • Email and Calendaring - Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes.Probably the most important application an admin should know.Used to send/receive email, make appointments and meetings, set up contacts and distribution lists.For a lot of managers, this is how they stay organized.Definitely advanced skills are needed.
  • Spreadsheets - Microsoft Excel. Used for managing and analyzing data, both numerical and text.Can be used for a variety of tasks, from setting up contact lists to creating pivot tables.A good friend to the admin, but depending on the job, beginning to intermediate skills should suffice.
  • SAP/Oracle - this complex software varies from company to company, so it's best to just get familiar with the basics and then learn the specifics according to the company.For administrative assistants, this is usually used to create requisitions and process invoices and purchase orders.However, it's becoming increasingly the norm for assistants to know how to run reports and download data to an application such as Excel or Access for easier reading and analyzing.Beginner skills with a willingness to learn more intermediate uses will work.

  The above software skills should be a minimum.Depending on the position, the following skills will make your resume stand out:

  •  Flowcharts – Microsoft Visio.This can be a pretty complex application, but administrative assistants usually find it handy to create organization charts and other types of flowcharts.Beginner skills will work.
  • Desktop Publishing – in other words, anything from Adobe.Photoshop, Reader, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, etc.If the position calls for more creative skills, such as updating/maintaining websites, marketing materials, etc. (and this is becoming more common for admins as well), then make sure Adobe is on your list!
  • Internet Research – Google is an admin's best friend.Learn to google quickly and effectively and you will rule the office.Don't ever, ever be afraid to look it up!


Don't forget to make sure you are comfortable with hardware as well.Getting to know your company's copiers, printers, fax machines, and telephone systems (yes, telephones!) is a must.Also keep in mind things such as laminators, label makers, and scanners.

 If you need to brush up on any of the above, there are literally hundreds of resources on the internet for free, including how-to videos and articles (a good way to practice your internet research skills!). Master these skills and you are sure to be an indispensable admin!

Administrative Assistant's and Secretary's Handbook
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