You may not have known that during the day, I am an administrative assistant. I’ve been an admin for a handful of companies for the last 5 years. I have also been a virtual assistant for some companies, which is a fun side hustle!
Something that my manager is well aware of is that I intend on climbing the ladder. I got my degree in Technical Communication, and I hope to find a position as a Technical Writer/Editor. Even though I do not plan on being an admin forever, I can say that I love being an admin, it’s something I’m good at!
If you’re not already an administrative assistant and are looking for part time jobs near you, many offices hire full and part time admins. They range from entry level to a very skilled professional level. You can be a virtual administrative assistant, an administrative assistant for a church, and much more. We even have administrative professionals day, so we can celebrate what we do!
I tend to be a perfectionist and an over-organizer, so many admin duties come naturally to me. As an administrative professional, I am always looking for ways to improve. After several years, here are my biggest tips on being successful in the administrative industry.
1. Write Everything Down
My first piece of advice is to keep a running list of things you need to do. Even if it’s something small, since these can be the hardest to keep up with. Do NOT cross things off of your list until they have absolutely been completed.
Each day, I re-write my list to keep tasks fresh on my mind. I’m also becoming more and more of a “green” person. I recently purchased a BoogieBoard, which is an electronic notebook that saves SO much paper and ink.
I also like to set reminders on my computer for things I know I won’t be able to cross off my list for a while. For example, if we have a meeting in 3 weeks and I need to print off the schedule, I may set a reminder for a day or two before so that I don’t have to re-write it each day without crossing it off.
When someone needs me to do something, I ask questions and make sure I know exactly what they need and are expecting from me.
When I can’t get something completed right away, I update that person so they don’t think I have forgotten. For example, if I’ve done my part on a travel request and it’s pending manager’s approval, I’ll let the traveler know. I will also follow up with the manager and let them know to review the request. It’s as simple as a phone call, email, or stopping by their office if it’s close.
If something has been completed, I make sure to let that person know. This gives them assurance that when they need help, you’re the person who they can trust to get the job done.
You may feel annoying sometimes, but good communication is a skill that a lot of people lack. It’s good to practice it and it’s always better to communicate too much than not enough, or worse, not at all.
3. Always Answer The Phone
You may feel like you’re always on the phone in an administrative role. One of my most important duties is to answer my manager’s phone. I try to not let it ring more than 3 times, even if he is in his office. I can always transfer it back to him! High level managers should always have someone answering their phones to take messages, or help them if they are able to.
Learn your phone system, make sure you know how to place people on hold and transfer calls, and make sure that you’re friendly. This is the customer service aspect of your position.
4. Dress Your Best
In my work environment, like most, we are required to wear “business casual” clothes. As a young woman, I often feel out of place in dress clothes. Finding something that meets the requirements but also feels comfortable for your style is so important, and I promise, there is a happy medium!
My go-to: wide leg or bootcut dress pants, a comfy tucked in t-shirt, a cardigan to layer, and booties.
My back-up: dark jeans, a fancy blouse, and wedges.
Most of my clothes come from TJ Maxx or J. Crew Factory. J. Crew has really good sales all the time so you can actually afford to get high quality dress clothes! I try to find pieces that I would wear at home too so they’re dual purpose. Also, consider shopping consignment and thrift stores. For many people, their office clothes don’t get worn as regularly are their normal clothes, so you’re able to find items in great condition.
It’s very windy and often extremely cold or hot where I work. I try to avoid skirts, dresses, and open-toes shoes. Of course, these are some easy and great options!
5. Ask For More
I try to get all of my work done so I have room for other tasks. Prove that you can handle more than a typical admin. My goal is to create a space where I’m valuable and needed in order to keep the organization running smoothly.
Get things done early so you can fit more tasks in. Go the extra mile to make things look professional and presentable. An example of this is when my boss asks me to print out the resumes of job applicants. He wants them hole punched and placed in a binder. I will label and alphabetize them to make them easier to sort through.
Do note to be a little cautious with this — it doesn’t take long to learn if your manager has pet peeves or likes things a specific way. This is why we keep an open line of communication and ask questions!
6. Never Say No
If you are unsure how to complete a task, who to contact for a question, etc. don’t ever say that you don’t know or you can’t and leave it at that. Let them know that you are unsure at the moment, but you absolutely will find out. This is a great learning opportunity so that the next time, they know you can help them or refer someone else to you.
Admins should be filled with knowledge and always willing to go above and beyond for others. They connect office staff and create a safe place where people can ask for help.
Often, admins are asked to do things that “aren’t their job.” If this happens to you, there are a few options. One, you can take the request and relay the information to the correct person. Just follow up and ensure it gets completed. Two, you can do it yourself to please the person asking, since they may not be aware. Three, you can speak with them or your manager professionally to ensure that you aren’t being taken advantage of.
These are the general rules I follow day in and day out as an administrative assistant. I always feel respected and helpful. I never feel like I’m “just an admin” since this industry can be much more than that.
Let me know how things work for you!