11 administrative skills for office jobs
Searching for a job in an office setting? You may be wondering whether your existing skills and experience are enough to get you hired.
To be successful in an administrative role, you'll need specific office skills. There are many workplace abilities and qualities that'll help you do the job. Many of these are basic skills that you may already have.
To help you understand administrative skills and best showcase them on your resume, we'll show you the top 11 office skills employers look for.
We'll talk about what they are, how to develop them, and how to share them with your prospective employers.
What are office skills?
In a nutshell, administrative skills are all the abilities that help a business or office run smoothly.
Administrative skills include organization, time management, problem-solving, communication, computer skills, and leadership. Some office jobs might focus on filing and data entry, while others might require exceptional customer service skills.
Many of these skills are transferable. Even if you've never worked in an office before, you may still be the right fit for the position. For example, if you've had a retail job, you'll have customer service, organization, and listening skills.
If you've been employed in a warehouse, you'll have computer skills, attention to detail, and good time management.
You can mention these office skills during an interview. If you're not sure what the hiring manager is looking for, you can find more information in the job description.
The most important administrative skills for job success
There are dozens of administrative skills, but we’re focusing on the 11 most important ones to set you up for success.
The demand for office workers is currently declining, so you’ll need to make your resume stand out. For example, over the next 10 years, customer service representative jobs are expected to see a decline of -4%. For secretaries and administrative assistants, the number of jobs is expected to drop by -8%.
The following skills will help you be successful in administrative roles as well as other types of office jobs.
1. Interpersonal communication skills
Interpersonal skills include both written and verbal communication skills. In an office job, particularly administrative roles, you’ll need to facilitate communication between different departments or between clients, vendors, and the company.
Office workers communicate in different ways. For example, there's telephone communication, which involves taking incoming calls, answering questions, and scheduling appointments. Some office team members respond to emails, while others work at the front desk and greet customers in person.
Even if you don’t deal with the public, you’ll want to communicate clearly and effectively with your supervisors and co-workers.
When showcasing interpersonal communication skills on your resume, you’ll need to think about how you’ve demonstrated these in past jobs. Some good examples are:
Training new employees
Answering phones or responding to emails
2. Time management skills
Whether you are applying for a job as an executive assistant, office administrator, or other administrative role, chances are you’ll have lots of tasks on your plate.
You’ll need to prioritize your tasks and work efficiently to make sure everything gets done.
Some office roles are remote or hybrid, meaning administrative tasks are completed from home. If you land a role like this, you'll need to manage your time independently.
If time management is something you struggle with, consider using a time management tool to see where you’re spending your time. Then, cut out the inefficient or ineffective practices you rely on.
A good way to showcase your time management skills in a resume, cover letter, or job interview is to highlight jobs where you’ve had to balance multiple responsibilities or complete work in a short time frame.
If you've ever had to schedule appointments, manage a calendar, or juggled printing documents while taking incoming calls, you've used time management skills.
3. Organizational skills
Office managers and other administrative professionals are often responsible for keeping entire departments or businesses organized.
In administrative roles, you’re the one who stays organized when no one else is.
If organization doesn’t come naturally to you (or even if it does), use a task tracker or other work management tool to keep up with all of your responsibilities. You can also build your own organizational system in a Google Sheet or Excel document.
Be sure to emphasize your personal organizational system to your prospective employer to demonstrate your organizational skills.
Office administrators are often called upon to deal with the unexpected. You’ll need to think on your feet and find solutions to any problem thrown your way.
You can practice your problem-solving skills with a few simple steps:
Define the problem: Determine the cause and the impact in simple terms.
Brainstorm possible solutions: Make a short list of actions you could take to remedy the root issue.
Find pros and cons of each: Think through the advantages and disadvantages of each possible solution. Consider the impact on the business, your own workload, and other important factors.
Choose the best option and take action: Use your judgment to find the most effective solution to your problem and put it into practice as soon as possible.
The more you practice this skill, the easier it'll be to run through this checklist in your head as problems arise.
You can sometimes highlight solving major business-related problems on a resume, but you’ll often be asked for examples of your problem-solving skills in a job interview. It’s wise to keep a personal file of these examples to review as you embark on your job search.
5. Computer knowledge and technical skills
Computer and technical skills are essential for office workers. No matter what your role, you’ll need to be confident using technology.
Microsoft Office is one of the most common tools you should know how to use. At a minimum, you should be comfortable with Microsoft Word, Outlook, and Excel, but some roles may also rely heavily on PowerPoint, too.
Office workers should be able to type quickly and accurately. You should aim for a typing speed of at least 55 words per minute.
Knowing how to use office equipment such as printers, scanners, and photocopiers will also be beneficial.
Here are a few other tools and software you may want to learn:
Google Suite, including Gmail and Google Docs
Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter
Bookkeeping or accounting software such as QuickBooks and MYOB
CRMs or customer databases such as Salesforce
You can list your technical skills and level of expertise in the skills section of your resume.
6. Attention to detail
Mistakes can have a negative impact on a business. For example, if you're in the healthcare industry and double-book appointments, you could lose patients. Or, if you're part of a law firm, a transcription error could affect a trial.
It's important that all administrative professionals complete their work to a high standard. Attention to detail will help you work with accuracy and avoid errors.
To hone this skill, make sure you're organized at all times. Your organizational skills and time management practices will help you keep an eye on all the finer details.
Try to avoid distractions and multitasking so you can give your full attention to the task at hand.
By focusing on one task at a time, you're more likely to see every detail. Don't forget to check your work and ask someone from the leadership team if you're unsure of what to do.
7. Customer service skills
Not all administrative roles are client-facing, but excellent customer service skills will help you work better with your co-workers in a business environment.
Customer service skills include many of the skills we've already talked about, such as verbal communication, written communication, and problem-solving.
Soft skills like patience, empathy, and a positive attitude are all essential when building customer relationships. If you have experience answering phone calls, that'll also be an advantage.
You want to create a positive experience for everyone who interacts with you by understanding their needs and clearly addressing them.
Sometimes, you may have to deal with customer complaints. Being professional, calm, and understanding can help you diffuse such situations.
8. Cash handling
Front office staff may need to accept payments for goods or services. For example, in a medical office, you may have to settle accounts.
Payments can be made via cash or credit card, so confidence in using a point of sale (POS) system will be beneficial.
If you have previous experience using a cash register, that can help your resume stand out.
If you have basic math skills, you can process payments and give change without making mistakes. If you don't have cash-handling skills, you can highlight that you're a fast learner.
9. Data entry
Database management is a common task in office work settings. It involves inputting information into a software program, such as Microsoft Excel or MYOB.
Administrative duties may include inputting and updating customer details or recording payments.
A company database can be used to manage the inventory of office supplies, create reports, and add subscribers to mailing lists.
There are training programs that can help boost your data entry skills. However, data entry is also something that can often be learned on the job. Math skills, time management, and attention to detail will help improve your data entry skills.
Offices are usually team environments. There are a range of office-related positions, including office assistants, receptionists, and office managers.
For a business to run smoothly, teamwork is required. Office staff need to support each other to get each job done.
Sometimes, team members can be busy, and others may need to step in to help. For example, an office assistant may become overwhelmed while scheduling appointments. To remove some of that pressure, an available co-worker can do one of their other job duties, such as filing paperwork.
If you've had experience working in a team, be sure to mention that during the hiring process.
11. Accounting skills
Another common clerical duty is basic bookkeeping. If you want to work in an office, expect to help with the finances.
What are basic bookkeeping tasks? They can include creating invoices, entering payments, and paying bills. Some office workers also take cash to the bank daily.
While you usually won't be expected to have an accounting degree, some bookkeeping knowledge will help you in any office role.
If you know how to use specific accounting programs, such as MYOB, Xero, or Quickbooks, highlight these on your resume.
Where to find an office job
Ready for an administrative position? If you have some of the basic office skills outlined on our list, you can start your job search. Visit our job board and browse vacancies in your area for office assistants, receptionists, or data entry clerks.
There are full-time, part-time, flexible, hybrid, and remote jobs available.
You can sign up for a free Jobcase account and use our free resume builder. With it, you'll get a professional resume in minutes, and you can update it as often as you like.
Land your dream office job
Want an office position? There are a few essential skills you'll need to be successful.
Office skills are critical for many administrative positions, including executive secretaries, office assistants, and data entry clerks.
To work in an office environment, you'll need to complete a range of clerical tasks. You should be confident using a computer and office equipment.
You'll also need excellent verbal and written communication skills. For example, you may use the phone to schedule appointments, or the computer to respond to email inquiries.
Other important office skills include time management, organization, attention to detail, problem-solving, and teamwork.
If you have experience in customer relations, data entry, or bookkeeping, that'll boost your chances of getting a job.
For more tips on developing your resume and landing an office job, check out the Jobcase Getting Hired Resource Center.