Resumes & Cover Letters

Important Skills for an Office Assistant To Master

March 2, 2021

As an employee, you'll be expected to have a wide range of skills specific to the position you were hired for. In the role of an office assistant, for example, you'll need to have certain technology, organizational and written communication skills to be a valuable employee. Knowing the skills needed in this role is crucial to understanding the areas where you can improve. In this article, we detail which office assistant skills are important and methods for improving them.

Essential office assistant skills

Having a wide variety of skills and being able to execute them effectively in the workplace is greatly beneficial in any industry. Knowing the ins and outs of your role as an office assistant will help you succeed while also helping you understand which skills you'll need to work on. Though there are many skills you should have in your role as an office assistant, here are some of the most common:

Verbal communication skills

One of the most important skills you can have as an office assistant is the ability to communicate well with your coworkers, clients and managers. As an office assistant, you'll likely be required to answer phones, take messages and be a source of contact for various clients, making this soft skill particularly critical.

Written communication skills

Written communication skills are just as important as verbal communication skills. This is because as an office assistant, you'll likely be tasked with drafting emails, typing and mailing correspondence, and taking detailed notes during meetings, among other duties. Throughout the various forms of written communication you encounter, you'll need to communicate clearly, concisely and in a professional tone.

Technology skills

As an office assistant, you'll be responsible for understanding your company's various computer software programs. This will require you to have a good working knowledge of programs, such as word processing programs, spreadsheets and databases to curate a presentation for a meeting or organize information for your manager. Though the specific programs you'll be expected to know will vary from company to company, you can expect to spend a good amount of time in front of a computer as an office assistant.

Organizational skills

Because office assistants often take on multiple tasks at once, you must be able to organize your day and your assignments effectively. You'll also likely be in charge of scheduling or providing your managers or administrators with support. This requires a high level of organizational skills. You might also be tasked with billing, filing, handling money and data entry — all of which require you to be an effective organizer. Your success in this area benefits not only you but the company at large.

Time-management skills

Having time-management skills is incredibly useful in this profession due to the high number of tasks you'll be expected to complete each day. Planning your duties ahead of time and using technology to help you do so could ease stress and aid you in better preparing for the tasks ahead. Also, employers prefer office assistants — and employees in general — who are punctual.

Problem-solving skills

As an office assistant, you'll need to have good problem-solving skills when it comes to responding to questions from others, arranging travel, coordinating meetings and other tasks of a similar nature. Because you're the main source of contact for so many people, you should know how to answer their queries while having the ability to solve any problem that comes your way, too.

Planning skills

As an office assistant, you'll need to be a good planner since you'll likely be in charge of planning an administrator's day-to-day activities. This could often mean you'll be making their various appointments or making changes to their calendar as needed. Being an effective planner will ensure you don't overbook them with overlapping appointments.

Resourcefulness

Because your duties are likely to change at any minute, it's important to not only be flexible but also resourceful. You'll be required to multitask and step in for others when needed. When problems arise, you'll need to consider various methods of resolving any issues.

Detail-oriented

In your role as an office assistant, you must pay close attention to detail. This is incredibly important when taking a message for someone or when you're working on data entry. Employers want to know they hired someone whose work is accurate and free of errors.

Friendliness

Because you'll be interacting with a variety of people, maintaining a positive attitude and greeting everyone with a smile will go a long way in your office assistant position. It's important to remain on good terms with everyone you work with. This is especially important during tense situations.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set To Advance Your Career

How to improve office assistant skills

Now that you know some common skills that are useful in an office assistant role, it's important to put them into practice to improve them. Here are some ways you can improve your office assistant skills:

  1. Speak confidently. If you're hoping to improve your verbal communication skills, practice speaking with confidence. This involves being mindful of the tone of your voice, making eye contact, watching your body language and keeping a positive and assertive attitude.

  2. Practice active listening. To become a better verbal communicator, practice active listening with your friends and family. Think before you speak, don't interrupt and be mindful of your body language.

  3. Prioritize your tasks. Once you know your daily tasks, figure out which of them needs to be completed first. This will help you get the most important tasks done on time.

  4. Schedule your responsibilities. To become better at managing your time, work out a schedule for your various tasks. This will help you stay organized as you plan out your day and ensure you finish your responsibilities on time.

  5. Be concise. As you work to improve your written communication skills, try to be more concise with your words. This will help your correspondents to better understand what you're trying to say.

  6. Take classes. If you need to improve your technical skills, consider enrolling in a class. There are a variety of courses you can take to improve your working knowledge of word processing or data entry programs.

  7. Get a good night's sleep. Being skilled at anything requires you to get some rest. This can help your brain stay alert throughout the workday.

  8. Practice mental exercises. To improve your problem-solving skills, you'll need to exercise your brain to think differently. You can do this with word games, brain games or even practicing mathematics.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Office assistant skills in the workplace

Once you've begun to improve your office assistant skills, you can begin to apply them in the workplace:

  • Practice empathy. Being empathetic is a great way to put your verbal communication skills to use. Put yourself in the shoes of those you're speaking with, listen attentively to what they have to say and understand their concerns.

  • Use a planner. Utilize a digital or physical planner for your tasks to display your organizational skills in the workplace. This will help you see what's on your schedule for the day and help you prioritize tasks in the process.

  • Set reminders. In a similar sense, use a digital app or your phone to remind you of daily tasks that need to be completed by a certain time. You can also set deadlines to finish various tasks to help you stay focused.

  • Proofread your correspondence. As you draft emails or other forms of correspondence, look over your words and make sure they're free from grammar or spelling errors. Ensure every sentence is clear and has a purpose.

Related: Office Assistant Resume Samples

How to highlight office assistant skills

While you might already have an office assistant job, you'll also need these skills throughout the hiring process. Employers will want to see that you possess some or all of the skills needed to succeed at their company. Here are some ways to highlight your office assistant skills throughout the interview process:

Office assistant skills for your resume and cover letter

A clear and concise resume and cover letter is a great way to display your written communication skills. Make sure both are free from grammar or spelling errors. This will demonstrate your ability to communicate efficiently. You can also highlight your skills in the skills section of your resume and expand upon them in your cover letter. You can include knowledge of various programs that are pertinent to your role as well as your ability to effectively manage your time or solve problems in the workplace.

Office assistant skills for the job interview

Demonstrate your time-management skills by arriving at your interview on time. This will let your employer know you value their time and can be punctual when it counts. An interview is also a great opportunity to highlight your verbal communication skills. Be mindful of your body language, speak confidently about your experience and skills, and listen attentively to what the interviewer is telling you and asking you.

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