Clerical Assistant: Duties, Skills And Requirements
Updated 13 August 2023
Clerical assistants perform various administrative tasks and help other office employees with daily activities. These tasks often involve taking notes during important meetings, typing documents or scheduling appointments. If you are considering applying for a clerical assistant position, you can benefit from learning about the role, including its duties and requirements. In this article, we explain what this role is, discuss the responsibilities, list the skills, describe how to become one and provide an example job description.
What Is A Clerical Assistant?
A clerical assistant helps their colleagues and the organisation's various departments by performing administrative tasks. Typically, managers and executives who want additional help hire candidates for this position. Their duties generally involve completing paperwork, maintaining organisation in the office, communicating with clients and managing schedules. They may also have the title of executive assistant, personal assistant, assistant clerk, administrative assistant or office assistant.
Responsibilities Of An Office Assistant
They perform various daily responsibilities, such as:
Answering phone calls: These individuals answer and transfer calls to the appropriate department or person, receive messages and manage multiple phone lines. In some offices, a separate front-office employee takes incoming calls, while at other companies, the general office assistant manages all calls.
Printing and scanning: They often print and scan documents throughout the day, which means they understand how the equipment works and perform basic maintenance. While troubleshooting issues can help them in their role, learning to replace cartridges and release paper jams is imperative.
Managing files: Office assistants maintain an orderly filing system for office documents. They may also manage a filing cabinet system and retrieve important documents for other employees as required.
Performing data entry: They often perform basic data entry tasks, such as keeping records of employee attendance and managing leave requests. Depending on the industry, they may also perform more complex data entry work, such as basic calculations and bookkeeping.
Receiving and delivering emails and packages: An office assistant organises and delivers packages and mail to various departments. Additionally, they often send company emails and forward emails to the appropriate team members.
Scheduling meetings: These individuals often schedule meetings and appointments for managers and maintain the office calendar. Sometimes, they may also book business travel for senior employees.
Offering client services: Generally, clerical assistants are the first point of contact at an office. They welcome and guide customers, clients and vendors to the appropriate department or team members.
Restocking inventory In most offices, they restock the office supplies and maintain an inventory to ensure all products are available to aid employee workflow.
Assisting new employees: They assist and guide new employees and ensure they learn about the office, the departments and their colleagues.
Fundamental Clerical Skills To Help You Succeed In The Role
Here are nine clerical skills you can learn and develop to help you succeed in the role:
Attention to detail
Before submitting a task, proofread it to identify and correct any errors. The ability to proactively correct errors is a desirable trait, so employers often look for candidates with meticulous attention to detail. You can deliver quality work to the company consistently if you pay close attention to every detail throughout every task.
Working in an office necessitates regular interaction with clients and office employees. You can communicate with clients, customers and team members via phone, email, video calls and in-person interactions. Effective communication with others can help you strengthen relationships, enhance skills and improve work performance. Drafting office emails requires good written communication. To accomplish this, use error-free and easy-to-read language. Your duties may involve preparing workplace documents such as presentations, memos, notices and other documents using word processing software, so writing well often affects job performance.
Integrity is a skill worth developing because it shows you are responsible and can make sensible decisions with little supervision. Personal accountability shows you have enough dedication and self-awareness to take responsibility for your choices and actions. Making the right choices without guidance shows your character and can help you succeed in your role.
If you have organisation skills, they can help you stay productive and efficient. By organising and classifying digital and paper documents with proper labelling, you can ensure they are easy to locate at the appropriate time. This skill also helps manage and secure confidential office information, reducing the risk of losing it. Organisational skills may also help you remember upcoming tasks, projects and meetings.
Basic computer skills
Having basic computer skills can help you perform many clerical tasks. With fundamental computer knowledge, you can complete your duties, such as data entry, which may involve entering sensitive information into a spreadsheet quickly. Understanding office software, especially word processors and spreadsheets, can help you be more efficient. Additional knowledge and experience with task management, customer management and internal messaging systems can also help you maintain productivity and collaborate with others.
Some office issues require logical and critical thinking. If you work in a role where unpredictable events happen, these skills help you remain calm and composed so you can adjust. Individuals with the ability to think critically can analyse a situation, develop an effective solution and make prompt and sensible decisions to solve a problem. These skills enable you to maintain work efficiency while ensuring smooth operations.
Basic maths skills
Depending on your work, you may want to know basic mathematics. Businesses often use spreadsheets to collect and organise numerical data. If you work in bookkeeping or maintain budgets or accounting, you may use maths more often to input data and formulas. Many other fields may involve similar tasks, such as preparing monthly statements to show key performance indicators (KPIs), which often require maths skills to prepare and present effectively.
Being an office assistant may require managing and announcing the daily office schedules. Time management skills are crucial, as delays or errors may affect the entire day. Your colleagues and the executives may rely on these scheduling reminders to help them complete projects and tasks or attend meetings on time. Time management skills also help with other office tasks. Clerical assistants who effectively organise and manage their workflow, can fulfil their obligations and meet deadlines.
Reliability is essential for clerical positions, as it shows accountability and shows colleagues and supervisors that you care. This characteristic shows others can depend on you to complete a task, solve a problem or provide accurate information. Establishing strong working relationships with your managers and colleagues typically requires you to be dependable. If you are reliable, people may be more likely to trust you, share information and provide you with good opportunities.
Requirements For An Office Assistant Role
Most private employers want candidates with a bachelor's degree in any subject from a recognised institution. If you have relevant skills and knowledge, you can apply for an office assistant job after completing your 10th or 10+2 examinations from a recognised board. In many government organisations, posts may be available for candidates with and without a bachelor's degree. Certifications in basic computer skills and data entry can give you an advantage while applying for these roles.
Example Job Description
Here is an example of the job description for an office assistant role:
The firm is looking for an office assistant with effective communication skills, good attention to detail, strong organisational abilities and a personable demeanour to help office employees and clients with general day-to-day tasks and scheduling meetings, visits and conferences. Any candidates who completed their 10+2 with maths as a core subject may apply. Candidates with a bachelor's degree and basic maths and computer skills are preferable. Proficiency in spreadsheets, communication, time management and client service are essential.
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