Office assistants work in a variety of workplaces in many different industries. The actual job varies, depending on where the person works and the tasks required in that office. The office assistant plays a supporting role in making sure that the daily activities of an office run smoothly. This includes managing a diverse set of tasks throughout each day and overseeing the boss’ schedule. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of an office assistant was $35,330 in 2012.
Daily Juggling Act
The daily work life of an office assistant includes focusing on a variety of tasks throughout the day. This includes greeting others on the phone or in person, reviewing email communication or memos and managing internal databases. As the office assistant greets callers, she may take messages for unavailable staff members. As others create documents, the office assistant proofreads them to ensure they are professional and accurate. Changes to internal databases, such as customer contact information, are forwarded to the office assistant who then updates the database. When supply inventories decline, the office assistant orders additional supplies. When office equipment needs to be repaired or maintained, she contacts the repair company. Sometimes, her responsibilities take her outside the office to run work-related errands, such as shipping packages or picking up meeting refreshments.
Keeper of the Boss
In many offices, the office assistant works for a specific manager and acts as a liaison between employees and that person. Colleagues contact the office assistant directly when they need information from that manager. In many cases, he can respond to these requests without interrupting his manager. The office assistant maintains his manager’s schedule, reminds her of upcoming appointments and reschedules when conflicts arise.
Qualities for Success
Office assistants use a variety of skills in their role. They work with a variety of people and personalities, so they need excellent interpersonal skills. Written and verbal communication skills allow them to eliminate misunderstandings whether they are talking with others or sending emails or memos. Organization skills, along with the ability to prioritize, allow the office assistant to manage the variety of tasks required each day. In addition, flexibility allows the office assistant to adapt to changing priorities.
Training and Background
The minimum training required for an office assistant is a high school diploma. An associate's degree in business adds a competitive advantage in the job market, however. Most companies require office assistants to have computer skills, such as proficiency in Microsoft office programs, familiarity with email software and experience with database programs. These skills can be learned through training courses at a community college or through experience with the software.
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