9 Administrative Assistant Skills (And How To Improve Them)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 5 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Administrative assistants (AA) work with managers, executives, clients and employees to manage daily office work. They are a foundational part of any office, helping others to succeed in their job. The job requires essential interpersonal and technical skills, and learning about them may help you understand your suitability for the job. In this article, we define administrative assistant skills, provide some examples, discuss how to improve your skills and share tips for highlighting them during your job search.

What Are Administrative Assistant Skills?

Administrative assistant skills are abilities that help someone organise and manage a workplace effectively. The role of an AA is critical, involving scheduling meetings, managing office operations, communicating with clients and employees, maintaining records, and more. They often work closely with executives or managers and require a mix of technical and interpersonal skills to thrive in their role.

Related: What Does An Administrative Assistant Do? (With Career Advice)

9 Essential Skills For Administrative Assistants

Here are some important skills for an AA:

1. Written communication

An AA interacts with several external and internal stakeholders during the course of a day. Writing emails, paperwork, speeches or memos to the executive is a part of the job role. This makes it essential that these professionals can articulate their thoughts on paper and communicate them accurately to the desired individuals. In all documents, the AA ensures the use of professional language and writes without grammatical, or formatting errors. They may serve as a middleman between employees, clients and executives, making written communication a vital skill for administrative assistants.

Related: Written Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples

2. Verbal communication

Administrative assistants may support an entire workplace. They often coordinate with employees, clients and executives. Verbal skills are essential when conversing with stakeholders, participating in meetings or attending phone calls. Verbal skills help an AA respond appropriately in various situations, ensuring they maintain a professional tone.

Related: Verbal Communication Examples In The Workplace (With Tips)

3. Problem-solving skills

Administrative assistants are approachable and help employees, clients and executives resolve issues. They develop the ability to analyse a situation, evaluate the advantages and disadvantages, and help provide a resolution. They may interact with clients and customers, understand their issues and direct them to the relevant teams. An AA may face several such situations in a day and make decisions that do not disrupt the workflow. An essential aspect of resolving queries is to listen, discuss or collaborate wherever necessary.

4. Technological skills

An AA uses project management tools, emails, documents and spreadsheets to perform daily operations. It is essential to work with a computer and know simple hacks to troubleshoot the system. It minimises the reliance on others for every minor issue and can help increase work efficiency. An AA may help others resolve their tech issues. Apart from working on a computer, administrative assistants are proficient in other gadgets, such as a printer, scanner, fax machine or even a label printer.

5. Strategic planning

Strategic planning is key to an AA's job, as they may manage an executive's calendar, schedule meetings or oversee office functions. It is essential to plan things, such as scheduling fire drills, office maintenance and other operations to ensure there are no operational redundancies or inefficiencies. These tasks require timely management to ensure office operations do not get disrupted.

Related: What Is Strategic Planning And How To Do It In 6 Steps

6. Organisational skills

An AA performs several tasks in a day, making organisational skills an essential attribute, especially in an office setup. Administrative assistants working for a leader may manage their meetings and other work schedules. It requires them to organise their tasks to ensure office operations run smoothly and meet executive needs. Administrative assistants maintain a strict system to manage paperwork to ensure all documents are available when the need arises.

Related: Organisational Skills: Definition And Examples

7. Attention to detail

Administrative assistants manage a lot of documents, calendars and operations. It is essential to notice any missed signatures, spelling or grammatical errors, and ensure emails get sent to the correct address. Administrative assistants scrutinise their work to ensure it is error-free before sharing it with supervisors or clients to ensure they convey the right information.

8. Time management

Time management is the ability to schedule and complete tasks within the stipulated time. Administrative assistants work under strict deadlines and manage their duties. They may use project management tools, calendars or notebooks to maintain a list of their duties. An AA also determines the importance of a task and readjusts their priorities to ensure a productive day.

9. Listening skills

Administrative assistants work with executives, clients, employees and other stakeholders daily. They may either receive orders or discuss issues with them. Administrative assistants listen to a conversation, make notes and ask questions to take necessary measures after the conversation. Listening skills are important for administrative assistants, as they often act as a middleman between executives and clients, or employees.

Related: How To Improve Listening Skills (With Steps And Types)

Important Skills For Administrative Assistants In A Workplace

Some other essential skills an AA requires at the workplace are:

  • Patience: An AA reports to several people at the workplace, making it essential to stay calm in difficult or adverse situations. It is vital for an AA to resolve issues and prioritise tasks to manage stress.

  • Manage paperwork: Administrative assistants may file and manage paperwork essential to the company. They understand the importance of each document and create a filing system that makes it easier to find information when required.

  • Multitasking: Administrative assistants organise their work to ensure they can manage several tasks at once. They may attend phone calls while preparing reports or taking notes, making it vital for them to develop the ability to multitask.

How To Improve Administrative Assistant Skills?

Strong administrative skills help improve work efficiency and allow you to complete tasks within the deadline. Here are some steps you can follow if you want to improve your skills:

  1. Evaluate your current skills. Understand the proficiency of your skills and identify areas for improvement. Compare your skill set with the industry standards to help you plan your next steps.

  2. Create short and long-term goals. Create a plan to focus on particular skills throughout a period. Setting smaller, achievable targets to fulfil long-term goals can help you plan the steps you want to take and the resources necessary to achieve them.

  3. Practise regularly. Make a conscious decision to practise your skills at work. It helps improve and adjust your methods on the job by providing you time to focus on the work.

  4. Organise yourself. Create a calendar and use time-blocking techniques to improve your efficiency at work. You may also dedicate time to writing or interacting with people if you wish to enhance your communication skills.

  5. Learn from your peers. Your managers or colleagues may have effective administrative skills that you may want to adopt to grow as a professional. Learning skills from your colleagues allows you to test them and even modify them to suit your requirements.

Ways To Highlight Administrative Assistant Skills

Here are some ways you can highlight your relevant skills during a job search:

On a resume

Create two sections in your resume to highlight your professional and interpersonal skills. The role of an AA is dynamic and requires an equal mix of technical and interpersonal skills. Ensure to highlight these skills as bullet points, so it is more noticeable to recruiting managers. You may further substantiate these skills through your work experience.

In a cover letter

Briefly share experiences that validate your skills and proficiency. Refer to the job description to understand the company requirements and modify your cover letter to highlight the relevant skills. It shows your interest in the role and can increase the chances of getting your resume shortlisted, as recruiters may get attracted to your sincere efforts and the relevant qualification that you possess, which can be suitable for the job and ultimately, beneficial for the company.

During a job interview

While preparing for a job interview, use the experiences that substantiate your skills. Share these with the recruiter during your interview. You may work with a friend or family member to rehearse situational questions to ensure your answers are informative and concise.

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