As a modern-day secretary, you will have to take on a wide range of duties and responsibilities. You won’t only handle the incoming calls and your boss’s diary — you may also be asked to type letters and emails, make travel arrangements, assist in planning meetings and conferences, do research, and draft presentations.
Whether you are the secretary for one person or for an entire office, you will need to be able to provide efficient administrative support under minimal supervision.
Here are 5 of the key skills you need to master if you want to become a professional secretary:
Good time management skills will help you to plan your tasks and activities in such a way that you are able to meet your deadlines while still maintaining a high level of productivity.
For example: if your boss asks you to prepare a document that she needs by 10:00 on Monday morning, you need to make sure that it’s done, otherwise you’ll be in trouble. If you have other important tasks to do on Monday morning, you need to use your time management skills to figure out how you are going to fit it all in.
Research skills will help you when it comes to finding important information. You may, for example, need to do some research before you reply to an email requesting funding from your department, or you may be required to research travel destinations before you make the bookings for your boss’s next business trip. If you don’t have the necessary research skills, you may miss out on important details, such as that your boss requires a work visa, and not a tourist visa, for her trip.
Since most of your work will be done on a computer, it is essential that you have the necessary computer skills, such as:
- Scanning and printing
- Using software programs such as Microsoft Office
- Using internet browsers
Along with research skills, good computer skills will help you to perform your daily tasks quickly and more efficiently. Advanced computer skills may also count in your favour when it comes to applying for a job.
As a professional secretary, you will be in constant communication with others, either in person, or via channels such as telephone or email. You therefore need to know how to communicate clearly, professionally, and politely — regardless of whether you are dealing with a visitor, a client, a colleague, your boss, or a service provider.
Secretaries are often asked to take minutes at meetings — so if you want to become a professional secretary, you need to make sure that you are comfortable with taking accurate notes, either by making use of shorthand, or by transcribing audio recordings.