Secretaries have a variety of responsibilities depending on their employer, but in general, they are responsible for keeping offices running smoothly performing a combination of administrative and low-level management tasks. These professionals typically manage filing systems, answer phones, and e-mail correspondence; they may also sort mail, organize meetings, and coordinate inter-office communications. In most cases, the work is considered “entry level,” which means it does not require any special skills or educational qualifications to succeed. Nonetheless, there is almost always room for advancement. People with a lot of potential or experience are frequently in the running for increasingly prestigious jobs that pay more and more.
Jobs such as administrative assistant, clerk, and personal assistant are frequently included under this category. These are all administrative positions that deal with paperwork and electronic document management. Government-level or other official “secretaries,” such as the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of the Treasury, are one of the few exceptions. Despite the fact that these titles suggest a low-level function, officials in these positions are typically high-ranking and do little to no administrative or clerical work themselves.
Skills in Clerical Work
One of the most important secretarial tasks is office management. Although this category of work can be broad, it almost always includes administrative and clerical responsibilities. Sending and receiving mail, creating and organizing filing systems, and managing correspondence are all common responsibilities for secretaries. Computer and word processing skills are required in almost all situations.
In most places, answering the phone is also an important part of the job. When clients and customers call a company, secretaries are frequently the first people they speak with. As a result, proper etiquette and a courteous demeanor are usually expected. When taking messages, putting callers on hold, or answering basic questions, professionals must typically use tact.
Calendaring and Scheduling
Administrative staff are in charge of managing office calendars as well as individual employee calendars in many situations. They are frequently in charge of scheduling meetings and appointments, as well as avoiding conflicts and double bookings. This task is more noticeable in places like medical offices, where patients are constantly calling for appointments, but it can happen anywhere higher-level employees are “in demand.” Secretaries are often the first people executives and managers turn to for assistance, whether it’s scheduling a lunch meeting or making dinner reservations.
Administrative staff must be time and people managers in addition to having clerical skills. They must anticipate the needs of office staff, quickly resolve internal issues, and work effectively to coordinate and bring disparate people together. Excellent people skills are essential, especially when it comes to managing executives and other key employees. Many aspects of the job may be performed “behind the scenes,” with secretaries anticipating their superiors’ needs and demands before they are made.
Position in the Organizational Chart
Secretaries are usually regarded as low-level employees in most offices, and they are almost always near the bottom of the office hierarchy. They usually report to both middle and upper management, and they are expected to assist everyone equally. Large businesses and offices, on the other hand, frequently have entire secretarial pools, resulting in a more nuanced hierarchy. Some employees may be assigned to menial tasks such as filing and answering phones, while others may be in charge of scheduling and interacting with higher-ranking employees. Time and experience are usually required for advancement in these offices.
Personal assistance work is some of the most prestigious work a secretary can get. Many senior executives and corporate leaders have dedicated administrators who spend their entire working lives caring for and managing one leader’s schedule. This type of secretary must typically work long hours and deal with erratic demands and requests, but they are frequently among the highest paid and most respected in the industry.
Requirements for education and training
Different employers have different education requirements for their secretaries. A high school diploma or equivalent is required in some cases, while actual secretarial certifications or degrees are preferred in others. Interested students can learn the ins and outs of word processing and office management through community colleges and vocational schools. Even if it is not strictly required, taking this type of course can help an application stand out and give new hires a leg up on the competition when it comes to experience.
Officials and Government Secretaries in Special Circumstances
An office administrator is not always referred to as a secretary. The designation may be used in an honorary capacity to indicate management of a broad sector of affairs in some cases, particularly those involving high-ranking government officials. Secretarial titles are sometimes used officials who lead departments or oversee major governmental divisions, but they should not be confused with more common office management positions.