It is safe to say that while no two administrative assistant jobs are the same, they definitely have similar functions and duties. Here are five tasks that define a typical administrative assistant:
Travel – it’s a global world. Today’s managers and executives travel more than ever on business-related trips. Whether it is just a domestic trip to meet a client or a trip across the world to a sales meeting, most administrative assistants will need to be comfortable organizing itineraries, booking hotel rooms, and knowing the best seats on the planes. Getting familiar with things like visas, customs and passport renewals will make you a very invaluable assistant!
Correspondence – email, letters, memos, newsletters, brochures…you name it, an administrative assistant does it! Especially in smaller offices, assistants can find themselves doing marketing tasks in addition to standard emails and letters. Proofreading skills and quick typing fingers will make life easier for the admin who has to write most of the time.
Setup Meetings – whether the assistant uses a computer-based application like Outlook to setup meetings (which is very common in most businesses these days), or uses a desktop calendar to manually write in appointments, setting up meetings will be a main job duty. It is important to keep detailed track of your boss (and maybe a group as well). Knowing where your boss is at all (or most!) times will make both of your lives easier and more organized.
Answer Phones – a very basic yet critical task. You will probably be answering your boss’ phone more than he or she ever will. Your main job therefore will be representing your boss and protecting his or her time and information. You are the first point of contact; you will need to take ownership of this task and in many cases make decisions in your boss’ absence. Not only does this require excellent interpersonal skills, but open communication with your boss and a good rapport.
Interaction with all people – from your boss to customers, from facility managers to company executives, an administrative assistant will deal with all levels of employment and will need to know how to interact with each one. Although not a ‘task’, it is something that every assistant will need to be able to do. If you are someone who thinks they are too good to talk to the office cleaning people or are too intimidated to say hello to the CEO on the elevator, then this job will be a struggle for you. Can it be taught? Sure, anyone can be made aware of how to deal with different kinds of people. If it is something you don’t particularly enjoy or are the timid type, however, you might want to consider another line of work.
As a bonus, here are three more job duties that are a given for assistants everywhere: multitasking, multitasking, and multitasking! Most assistants have learned to take a message for his or her boss on the phone while changing the time and location of a meeting and signing for a package being dropped off by the UPS person. Then he or she will respond to an email while simultaneously listening to a co-worker ask a question about office supplies. Again, this is a skill that is just acquired with time and experience. Patience in this job helps as well!