As the economy continues to improve, more companies are growing and requiring help to stay organized. Administrative assistants can be invaluable to keeping a company running smoothly. Keep up to date on your computer and communication skills to show a potential employer that you are the person who can help their business stay on track.
Preparing for a Job as an Administrative Assistant
- 1Graduate from high school. A high school diploma and a little training is all you need to become an administrative assistant. It is not necessary to have a college degree, but a little training from a technical school or community college can give you the extra edge to appeal to a potential employer.
Increase your typing speed and accuracy by taking a keyboarding course. Courses in keyboarding are available at technical, vocational schools, community colleges and online. The goal is to learn how to touch-type, which will allow you to read text and type it into the computer without having to look at the keyboard.
- You will also learn how to create, edit and save documents.
- Timers will help you increase and accurately count how many words you can type per minute, which is often important to your employer when interviewing for an administrative assistant position.
Train for the specifics of your industry. If you are looking to be an administrative assistant in a specific industry, it is helpful to educate yourself on the practices and terminology which may be used in that industry.
- For example, medical industry professionals and legal secretaries need to know the terminology and codes based on the field of work.
Learn informational technology, or IT. An IT course will be incredibly helpful in learning different software programs you will be expected to use as an administrative assistant. Computer technology is expanding and increasing all of the time. Keep up with the changes by taking an IT course at a local community college or technical school.
- Become familiar with the programs included in the Microsoft Office Suite.
- Focus specifically on Word for word processing, Excel for spreadsheets and Power Point for presentations.
Prepare to learn on the job. Much of the training you will need will happen in the office after you start. Be prepared for a learning curve the first couple of months after you start your new job as an administrative assistant. Each office is different and will have particular styles, needs and expectations.
- Have patience and be open to instruction and corrections.
- Ask questions and follow up by asking if your work is meeting expectations.
- Ask what you can do to improve your work.
- Set a check-in meeting with your boss for a few months after your start date to assess your training on the job and track your improvement.
Applying for a Job as an Administrative Assistant
Create a resume. Your resume should be well-organized and concise. It should lay out your name and contact information followed by your experience, your skills, and your training. Make sure it is easy to read by creating clear, organized sections and columns within each section.
- List all software programs you can use proficiently.
- Don’t forget to include volunteer work which may not seem like it directly relates to the office work, but shows your altruism and proves that you are trustworthy.
- Double and triple check for grammar and spelling mistakes. This is especially important when applying for this position, which will involve you communicating efficiently and correctly through written word and memos.
Write a cover letter expressing your interest in the position and highlighting the skills which make you excel at the job. Mention any experience and courses you have taken to prepare for the position, but also make the letter personalized to the office where you are applying. Tell them what you appreciate about their specific business.
- Don’t forget to include things which may be missing from your resume, like your trustworthiness, ability to quickly learn on the job, and active communication skills.
Network with others in the field to increase your chances of being hired. Having someone in the office who can recommend you personally will give you an edge over a perfect stranger to the team. Even speaking to others in the field gives you a better understanding of a day in the life of an administrative assistant, as well as the expectations and tips to get ahead. Someone may even point you toward a job opening.
- Your immediate network can connect you with their network. For example, the coach or your child’s soccer team can connect you with the other parents.
- Let people know that you are looking for a job as an administrative assistant. Talk about it with friends and family or on social media and ask to be connected with others in the field.
Submit your cover letter and resume to companies which interest you. You can submit your resume online through sites like Monster, Indeed, and CareerBuilder. Find companies which really interest you and apply to those first. The more you are passionate about the company, the more likely you will project a positivity and passion for the position.
- Using these online sites will be the first step in proving your technical prowess. Take your time and make sure that you are navigating the site and using its features effectively.
- Create a profile on LinkedIn. Continue updating the profile as you take more courses or gain experience.
Put yourself out there by applying in person. While applying online and having an updated online presence can show you’re tech savvy, applying in person can make sure you actually get in the door. Choose one or two places where you would really like to work, go there during business hours, and hand your resume over in person.
- Have a positive and energetic presence while you are in the office. Show them your personality and smile at everyone you meet.
- The employers will likely still want a digital version of your resume. Follow up by also submitting your resume through their online system or in an email.
Interviewing to be an Administrative Assistant
Project your honesty and integrity. You may be expected to handle sensitive, personal and private information in this position. This could include medical records, legal documents, and personal identifying information such as social security numbers and bank account information. Prove to your potential employer that you can be trusted with this information.
- List experience on your resume which shows your altruism, like volunteering work you have done to help others.
- Provide personal and professional reference your potential employer can call to learn more about your trustworthiness and ethics.
Communicate effectively within your professional environment. Administrative assistants are expected to interact with other office workers and clients of the company. Work on communicating in a way which is effective, personable and creates a positive atmosphere.
- Interact in a positive and friendly manner with everyone you are exposed to in the office. This includes anyone you meet before and after the interview.
- Be an active listener. Focus on what others are saying without interrupting. Repeat back some of what they have said to let them know you understand what they want.
- Don’t allow the stress of the interview to take over. Use stalling tactics until you can calm yourself. Another option is to insert some humor into the conversation to cut through the tension.
Find a place for everything. A big part of the job of administrative assistant is organization. This includes files and folders, data, and schedules. Learn to keep yourself organized and show it when you go into an interview.
- Be on time. Bring a planner. Have your resume, reference letters and any other paperwork organized in a folder and know where to access it.
- Show organization and planning skills with simple preparation like bringing your own pen.
Create an organizational system. Take your resources, assess the performance capacity you have based on people power, budget, and materials. Take actions within your resources to create the outcome and output you desire. Gather feedback from your clients, community or staff and adjust your strategy accordingly.
- This is a basic diagram for creating an organizational system, which can be applied in multiple circumstances. Use this system to keep your job applications organized and improve your future interviews through feedback from your past interviews.
- Learn the resources and system of the office you are applying at and don’t be afraid to suggest some changes to improve the outcome and output of their current system.
- QuestionNow I am a secretary of a japanese engineer consultant. I want to be an executive administrative secretary. Is it possible?Community AnswerIf you are working in an entry level position, it should be possible to move up the ladder. If the position opens up, be sure to apply for it. If there is no opening at your current company, seek executive administration positions with companies in a similar field and begin your application process.
- QuestionWhat courses do I need to take to become an administrative assistant?Community AnswerA high school diploma is typically standard, but many administrative assistant jobs seek applicants with skills in Outlook, Access, Excel, Word, Photoshop, PowerPoint, QuickBooks, and G-Suite (Docs, Sheets, Slides), etc.
- QuestionCan a health person become an administrative assistant?Community AnswerAbsolutely! Just about anyone who has a good personality, good organizational skills, knowledge of computer and applicable software (MS Office suite) can become an admin.
- Can I get an office job if I don’t have any experience?
- How can I become an administrative assistant at an office?
Practice your skills while job hunting.
Keep trying. There are plenty of jobs available.
Speak to people who already work as administrators. Ask them what a typical day is like.
Read books on admin skills. There should be plenty at your local library.
Look into specialized training and development programs with memberships or certifications.
Office work can be boring, especially on slow days.
Administrative Assistants are sometimes underappreciated in the workplace and the praise they do get from upper management is minimal compared to other departments like sales that generate money for the company.
This work can also be stressful with tight deadlines and heavy workloads.