Secretarial Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 18, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organizations often seek administrative professionals to ensure organized, effective, and productive work processes. If you're a secretary or work in an administrative position, there are several essential skills you can develop. Learning about the skills secretaries use and how to improve them can help you advance your career. In this article, we explain what secretarial skills are, list eight examples, describe how to improve them, offer tips for demonstrating them at work, and explain how to highlight them during a job search.

What are secretarial skills?

Secretarial skills can help you complete your administrative tasks and assignments successfully. As a secretary, it's your responsibility to ensure efficient operations in an office or professional environment. While your exact duties may vary depending on the industry you work in, these skills allow you to support your colleagues, assist clients, and perform important clerical tasks. With the right skill set, you can quickly succeed and become a reputable professional in the industry.

Related: What Is Administrative Work? (With Definition and Skills)

Examples of secretarial skills

Here are examples of skills secretaries and administrative employees typically use at work:

Time management

Secretaries often manage several tasks and work on multiple projects simultaneously. Time management skills can help you prioritize tasks according to urgency and due dates to meet work deadlines. Senior managers expect secretaries to remain organized, multitask, and perform their duties efficiently, especially when working on several projects with strict deadlines. Consider developing a task management system to organize your daily assignments and ensure you complete all project tasks on time.

Related: Time Management Skills: Examples and Definitions

Adaptability

Adaptability skills are essential to working effectively in a fast-paced office environment. Executives may have sudden or more urgent tasks to attend to, causing you to focus on new deliverables and adapt accordingly. To become an effective secretary, consider improving your adaptability skills to function effectively in challenging situations and adjust your schedule as required. When you're flexible, you're typically more prepared to manage unexpected tasks and adapt to changes with ease.

Customer service

As a secretary, you may contact customers on behalf of executives or other senior managers to schedule meetings, answer questions, or convey important information. Customer service skills are essential to remaining patient, courteous, and professional when attending to customers or clients. You can demonstrate customer service skills by remaining polite and friendly when addressing their requests, concerns, or complaints. Smiling when customers approach your desk or enter the office can build and maintain positive customer relationships in the company.

Attention to detail

Executives may ask you to proofread or review documents at work before sending them to clients or stakeholders. You may need excellent attention to detail to notice errors, mistakes, or inconsistencies in these materials and correct them. Other administrative duties, like scheduling appointments or making travel arrangements, also require detailed orientation to complete quickly and efficiently.

Related: Attention to Detail

Problem-solving

Because administrative duties often aim to improve a company's productivity and workflows, problem-solving skills are essential. This skill can help you identify problems associated with current work processes and develop innovative strategies to resolve them. Executives may ask you to provide insights into certain company decisions and offer possible solutions to improve business performance. Problem-solving skills are essential to propose logical solutions to organizational challenges and increase your credibility as a professional secretary.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Organization

Keeping relevant files, documents, and company information organized are common duties of administrative professionals. You may store company data in different forms, such as paper files or electronic databases. Organizational skills are essential to maintain efficiency and professionalism in the workplace. By sorting and storing data effectively, you can ensure critical business information is secure and remain organized on the job.

Computer skills

Using the organization's application or software systems, you can perform many administrative duties on a computer. Computer skills are essential to effectively use the company's resources and devices like laptops, desktops, and tablets. You may use online scheduling platforms to ensure effective and accessible monitoring of appointments and scheduled tasks. You may also need technical expertise to operate office equipment, such as scanners and printers, to make copies when needed.

Related: The Best Computer Skills to Develop for Work

Communication

Communication skills describe your ability to exchange information with others at work effectively. Secretaries use written and verbal communication skills to complete various tasks, such as sending e-mails to clients, answering phone calls, and greeting guests. Effective communication skills can allow you to communicate articulately and relay vital from executives to employees and customers.

How to improve secretarial qualities

Here's a list of steps you can follow to improve your secretarial qualities effectively:

1. Attend training programs

You can improve your secretarial abilities by attending training programs, seminars, or workshops. Many professional organizations offer training programs and workshops to teach various administrative techniques, tools, and skills. If there's a specific skill you hope to develop or improve, consider taking training courses on that topic. Many employers also offer on-the-job training to help secretaries learn about company procedures, policies, and the specific technology tools and software used company-wide.

2. Accept more responsibilities

If you currently work in an office, consider volunteering to perform administrative duties in the workplace to improve your skills. These tasks may entail scheduling meetings, answering phone calls, or taking inventory of company products. You can also discuss your career goals with your supervisor and ask for feedback on ways to improve your secretarial abilities.

3. Take certification courses

A certification course is a professional class you can take to gain industry-specific knowledge and improve your work skills. Many associations and organizations offer certification courses for administrative professionals that you can take online. Consider enrolling in a course to learn more about the industry's best practices and improve your job performance. You can also earn a certification on that subject upon completion to get better job offers. While not all employers require secretaries with certifications, consider earning one to improve your skills and gain a competitive advantage during your job search.

Related: A Guide to Administrative Certifications (With Examples)

4. Expand your professional network

With sufficient secretarial experience, you can advance to positions like a supervisor or executive assistant. Consider attending professional networking sessions or events to meet seasoned professionals and gain more relevant connections. You can also use social media platforms to connect with established executive assistants or other professionals that advanced their careers from secretarial roles. If you have a particular supervisor or executive you admire, consider asking whether they're willing to mentor you. A vast professional network can offer great opportunities to advance your career.

Tips for demonstrating secretarial abilities at work

Here are a few tips you can adopt to demonstrate your secretarial abilities in the workplace effectively:

  • Create an organizational system. Consider developing an organizational system, such as using a digital program or weekly planner to monitor your scheduled tasks. Understanding your duties and developing a way to track deadlines can help demonstrate your attention to detail, time management, and organizational skills.


  • Participate in team programs. You can participate and be proactive during team meetings or programs by offering any ideas or suggestions you have. This can help you demonstrate your communication skills and help colleagues understand your areas of expertise.


  • Observe your mentors. You can observe the team members, employees, or mentors you admire to understand how they use their skills to perform excellently at work. Learning and emulating these details can help you practise your skills and improve your performance.

How to highlight secretarial qualities

You can follow these steps to highlight your essential secretarial qualities throughout the hiring process:

1. Highlight your skills on your resume

Preparing a resume highlighting your essential skills, educational qualifications, and work experience is essential when searching for a secretarial job. While you may have many skills, try to feature only those relevant to the secretary role you seek on your resume. You may also review the job description to find the necessary skills and keywords the employers want in their ideal candidate and showcase them throughout your resume to increase your chances of getting hired.

2. Showcase your abilities in your cover letter

A cover letter is another application document you typically send along with your resume to explain your qualifications in greater detail. If you left any information off your resume to keep it concise, your cover letter is the perfect document to explain those details. You can showcase your secretarial abilities in your cover letter by describing how you used your skills to accomplish significant goals in previous roles. Consider picking two to three skills that you believe are most relevant to the secretary role and elaborate on the results you achieved using them in your letter.

3. Demonstrate your competence during the interview

If hiring managers review your resume and cover letter and consider you an ideal candidate, they are likely to call and schedule an interview. You can demonstrate your proficiency as an administrative professional during your interview by arriving early, maintaining good body posture, and answering the interviewer's questions effectively. Arriving early for an interview showcases your time management skills and strong work ethic. Consider answering the interviewer's questions by describing your technical skills and how you intend to use them to perform effectively in that secretarial position.

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