Blog by Noel.
The team at Next Step often meet people who either have a career in administration or would like to move into this field. This article will hopefully give you an idea of the skills, qualities and experience you will need to have a great career in admin.
What does admin involve?
Unfortunately, many people assume that an admin role just involves answering the phone, doing some photocopying, and making the teas and coffees. Although this can be a small (very small) part of what an admin sometimes does, it certainly isn’t everything. In fact, the staff in a workplace should always offer to make the admin a cuppa as you will see!
Every organisation – large and small – requires an admin team. They are usually involved with every part of the smooth-running of an organisation and are probably one of the most important members of staff in any team.
They are usually the “go to” person in an office and there is often the expectation that they know everything about how things work….. and they usually do!
It is also one of the most stable ones too, as a company will hold on to a good admin as much as they can. As companies develop, they are always looking for administrative staff and there are always opportunities in this area.
So put the kettle on for the admin team because they are the lynchpin of any team – it can be a challenging, busy but very rewarding career.
What skills will I need to be a great Admin?
1) Good Communication Skills.
As the office administrator you will need to work with a variety of very different people – from your colleagues, to management, to customers and clients, to suppliers and contractors, other organisations, the public and visitors to the company.
Often you will be the first person that anyone outside the organisation comes into contact with, so it is important to be polite, professional, and helpful. …first impressions last.
It’s a busy role and you will be expected to communicate and convey lots of information to people. This may be through emails and phone calls, so you must be able to communicate in these ways clearly and effectively.
2) Confidence with IT.
Computers are now an essential part of any organisation and the admin will be expected to be familiar with all Microsoft Office packages. You will be expected to write documents with Word, create databases with Excel, and compose emails and coordinate other people’s diaries with Outlook – depending on the email system that the company uses.
This is a good starting point for an admin worker and the team at Next Step can help you learn and develop these skills. We offer a range of free courses and training that will help you get a start with this.
3) Filing and Document Management.
All organisations use files (either physical or electronic) to store data about the services they provide, the transactions they make, or the clients and customers that they work with. As an admin, you will manage the organisation of these files, ensuring they are easy to understand, securely kept, and in line with the General Data Protection Regulations. Most companies and organisations may have an audit from an outside agency, so you will be expected to ensure that all files are stored in this way.
This is usually known as a good awareness of compliance and would be something to develop your skills and confidence in.
For this part of the role you should be well-organised, be able to arrange and maintain good systems of filing – but also have excellent attention to detail too.
If you are expected to deal with petty cash, invoices, or expenses for an organisation – this should all be filed and accounted for properly – so good numeracy and bookkeeping skills are always an advantage.
For most organisations, this information can be sensitive and confidential – and it is the admin’s responsibility to treat this information in a sensitive and confidential way.
4) Typing and Minute-Taking.
The admin will often be expected to attend meetings and take notes (minutes) of what has occurred and what has been said – and this should always be factual and accurate.
It is usually the admin’s responsibility to type up these minutes and share these with all those involved.
Next Step can also work with you to access courses to develop your skills and confidence in these areas. There are also a lot of free online courses to help you with your typing speed and abilities.
As an admin, you will be involved in the general day-to-day running of an office or workplace.
It is not the Tooth Fairy who makes sure that the stationery cupboard is always full of supplies. They certainly don’t make sure that all of the new desks and chairs that have arrived have been assembled either!
If you can put your hand to most tasks, you will be a great admin, so being as flexible, adaptable and helpful would make you stand out from other people applying for the same job.
And that is another reason why people should make the admin a cuppa.
What qualifications and experience do I need to be a great Admin?
There are a number of formal qualifications on offer if you want to get into administration. Edinburgh College runs some really good courses in this area. There are also degree qualifications that are available too.
However, if you can display the skills described above, you may not need a formal qualification.
If you have never had any experience as an admin, a good place to start is through volunteering.
Many charities rely on volunteer admin staff to help them operate – and this is a good opportunity for you:
- To gain experience,
- Get relevant training
- Get valuable work experience
- Get a good reference
- Develop your CV
It also looks good to any employer, if you are volunteering whilst you are looking for a job in a similar sector.
If you are unsure about how to do this, the experienced team at Next Step are here to help you with this.
What sort of person makes a great Admin?
As we said earlier, the admin is usually the first person a member of the public or a customer will encounter with an organisation. To be a great admin, you should be professional, helpful and polite.
The admin also has a lot of responsibility in a company, so if you can work well under pressure and cope well with deadlines and questions from others – this will make you stand out from the crowd when applying and interviewing for jobs.
As the company “go to” person, you should be motivated and positive too.
It is a lot more than just answering phones and making drinks, but a great admin will always be valued and always be in demand.
If you think you could be that great admin we just described, drop Next Step a line on 0300 365 0025.
You can also email the most important member of our team too, firstname.lastname@example.org