Gone are the days when a secretary’s qualifications were customer service, typing skills and answering the phone. All of those things still matter, but today’s secretary must also be dynamic, well-educated and capable of highly complex tasks. Anyone hoping to enter this competitive field should master these five tasks.
Encompassing a wide diversity of traits, the ability to conduct oneself as a professional is the key to getting the job done. Punctuality, reliability and clear communication skills are the hallmarks of professionalism. Great secretaries present themselves well and exhibit grace under pressure. Maintaining professionalism isn’t easy, but it makes accomplishing the other essential secretarial tasks possible.
In any industry, the ability to manage and access information is critical. It is the job of the secretary, in many organizations, to manage the flow of information and to be able to locate data at a moment’s notice. To that end, secretaries must have thorough working knowledge of commonly used business software like Excel and Access. It may also be desirable, and in some cases required, for the secretary to become familiar with industry specific tools, such as LexisNexis for the legal secretary.
3. Office Equipment
Secretaries must not only be adept with computers, but also with other high-tech office equipment. Telecommunications tools that enable voice and video conferencing are just the tip of the iceberg. Even more traditional devices, like a Canon multi-function copier from Advanced Copier Technology Inc. that can scan, print, copy and fax, are an integral part of the modern office. Secretaries must understand this equipment in minute detail, and may also deal with maintenance and contracts.
Depending on the size and makeup of the organization, the secretary may need specialized education relating to payroll, accounting and bookkeeping. Knowledge of commonly used software like QuickBooks or SageOne can be indispensable when it comes to landing a desirable position.
5. Human Resources
In some firms, it falls to the secretary to oversee and manage other administrative professionals. This may include hiring, training and taking disciplinary actions when necessary. Good skills in this area are necessary in order to build a strong, cohesive team that works well even when pressure in the office is at an all-time high.
Every secretarial position is unique with its own set of challenges to be met. With knowledge of these five essential tasks, the secretary is prepared to meet these challenges head on to become a valued and indispensable member of the team.