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What makes a good secretary?

As the 'eyes and ears' of a company, secretarial and business support professionals handle the day to day administration for an individual, network or team. With their unique overview of the company, secretarial and business support staff are regularly called upon to make business critical decisions – it’s no exaggeration to say that an executive is only as good as their secretary or personal assistant.
Secretarial staff are valued for their:
  • Organised approach
  • Communication skills
  • Personable phone manner
  • Initiative
  • IT literacy
  • Honesty and discretion
  • Time management
  • Team ethic
  • Ability to cope with pressure
  • Professionalism
  • Project management skills
These are the basics, but there will always be elements specific to the role. You could say that the most valuable asset a secretary or business support professional can have is the ability to think on their feet! Secretarial and business support roles are demanding, with typical tasks including drafting letters and emails, diary management, organising travel and paying expenses.
These duties may fall under the remit of a secretary or an administrator, with the main difference between these titles being a formal secretarial qualification. A secretary must touch type and be Microsoft literate, while administrators often contribute on a project by project basis.
Employers definitely look for stability on a CV as this demonstrates resilience and considered choices. An ambitious candidate will refresh their career every couple of years, once they have mastered a role and developed it. This is the perfect time to take on more responsibility, perhaps developing the project management and supervisory aspects of the role. The alternative is to make a sideways move within the organisation, or look to pastures new for the next challenge.

What qualifications do I need?

Most employers will expect you to be educated to at least GCSE level and to have undertaken some form of secretarial training. Typing speed is key – if you can touch type, your speed will improve the more typing you do, otherwise it is very difficult to exceed 40wpm. If you want to brush up on your typing speed, speak to your consultant and they will put you in touch with a specialist college or study centre.