The evolving role & responsibilities of the office administrator

The evolving role & responsibilities of the office administrator

A good administrative assistant is a vital figure in any thriving business, and replacing a departing administrative assistant can be a seemingly impossible task. What was once initially viewed as a relatively unskilled job (hello, 1950s attitude!) has evolved to become a position with an ever-changing set of roles and responsibilities.

Administrative assistants today do more than just simple office tasks. In honor of Administrative Professionals’ Day, here are just some of the ways that thoughts, perceptions and job descriptions have changed surrounding administrative assistants in the current work landscape.

1. Not just a “secretary”

An administrative assistant used to be a glorified term for the now-outdated title “secretary.” Today, administrative assistants do much more than just take dictation and make coffee. An admin assistant in today’s workforce might be expected to do anything from typeset a presentation to handle dealings with vendors or assist with planning a budget for the day-to-day doings within the office. Remember: though the perception of administrative assistants has not changed much, the demands of the position have. Finding a great administrative assistant may be contingent on revising your perception of what an administrative assistant is in the first place.  You are looking for someone who can keep up with the quickly changing modern times.

2. Consider a new title

Because the office manager role can encompass so many different expectations, it is important to at least consider a new title that is more reflective of your new hire’s eventual role in the company. Will the new hire be assisting your vice president? Consider a title such as, “Executive Assistant to the Vice President.” Will the new employee be handling data entry? Perhaps a title like “Data Specialist” would be more fitting. If you want to hire someone who is a good fit for the job, it is important to make sure the office administration job description and title reflect your expectations.

3. Not a long-term position anymore

Though this is true for many fields these days, it is worth restating that people no longer stay with the same company for as many years, as they used to. This is doubly true for administrative assistants. Because the demands of the administrative assistant role have changed so drastically, and because pay has not increased at nearly the same rate, a good administrative assistant is not likely to stick with your company until retirement. Driven people are inclined to go where they are valued most, so it is important to make sure that your administrative assistant is appreciated and compensated fairly.

4. Be fair with your expectations

An administrative assistant is not just a catchall title for random tasks around the office that nobody else wants to do. Be clear about the expectations of the position for which you are hiring. If you hire a person who wants to do data entry and then expect him to run and fetch your coffee, you are bound to encounter some resentment. Similarly, if you have a small office and would like your administrative assistant to tackle HR duties (screening resumes and getting involved in new hire interviews), it would be helpful to both you and your potential assistant to know this is a required skillset. Additionally, if your administrative assistant will also act as an office manager and help keep various departments running smoothly, it’s important that she also have project management skills, too.  Be clear and honest about your hiring goals. It may be a wiser choice to hire two part-time employees with different skillsets than one full-time employee who is highly specialized.

Even if you’re not looking to hire a new administrative assistant, these tips lend some perspective on an ever-changing position.  For all you do and for all the many hats you wear, wishes you a happy Administrative Professionals’ Day!