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What are Some Important Administrative Assistant Skills?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Working in administration is an excellent way to break into almost any field. By carefully studying the working environment, an ambitious entry-level worker can absorb inside information about the field and how it works. Although administrative jobs can cover a wide range of responsibilities, there are some important basic administrative assistant skills any candidate should make sure to highlight on resumes and in interviews.

One of the most vital skills to possess in the modern business world is computer literacy. It is difficult to find any company in any field that does not run most operations off of a computer network. In addition to basic typing abilities, administrative assistants should learn how to be at ease with all common operating systems, understand the basics of most word processing and basic graphic editing programs, and have excellent familiarity with the Internet. Although some businesses may focus computer use on company-specific program, computer literacy will show that a candidate has potential to pick up new software with ease.

The job of an assistant is often dependent entirely on what the boss or senior administrator needs that day. Unfortunately, this can sometimes translate to junior workers getting stuck with unpleasant work passed on by higher-ranked people. Patience and the ability to multi-task are extremely important skills to have, although an assistant must never accept abuse or mistreatment in the workplace. It is very important to have an exact understanding of the rights and requirements of any job, to avoid any confusion.

Another set of administrative assistant skills necessary in many jobs is familiarity with common office machines. Scanners, fax machines, copy machines, and multi-line phones are all normal parts of the office landscape. While a new assistant cannot be expected to know how every make and model of machine functions, a basic knowledge of how these important tools work can ease the training process and give employers confidence in a new worker's ability to lean quickly. In order to pick up these skills, individuals should consider visiting a local print or copy shop and asking for a basic explanation of how the machines work.

Working as an administrative assistant can be fun or tedious, depending on the workplace, coworkers, and personal attitude. While it may not be a worker's dream job is to be an assistant, smart employees will still treat the job with respect and as a great opportunity to learn. Having a great attitude is more likely to get employers to want that person around, which can lead to faster promotions and better jobs.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Practical Adult Insights. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

By comfyshoes — On Jul 19, 2010

Subway11-I agree with you. I want to add that administrative assistants also have to be able to be detailed-oriented as they often have to able to make travel arrangements for the staff.

Mistakes in this area can be a huge issue especially if a staff member misses a flight as a result of the mishap. Last minute flights can also cost the company extra money, so this is something that the administrative assistant must avoid. This is where attention to detail comes to play.

By subway11 — On Jul 19, 2010

Winterstar- I am sorry that you lost your job. I have to say that you make a great point. Most administrative assistants have to have significant knowledge of software programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Often the administrative assistant has to type critical memos and essential reports that are usually used for high level meetings.

Subsequently, their typing speed should be in the range of forty-five to sixty words per minute at least.

By winterstar — On Jan 30, 2010

As a clerical worker out of work now for a while I can offer another bit of advice.

Along with a word processor program, it is essential to know a spreadsheet program!

I actually think spreadsheet is more important to know than graphic programs.

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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