13 Essential Administrative Skills (Plus How To Improve)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 November 2022 | Published 4 October 2021

Updated 26 November 2022

Published 4 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Administrative skills can help you improve your organisation, communication and customer service skills. While these skills are certainly important in administrative roles, like office managers and receptionists, they're also helpful in many other roles. Learning more about these skills and when you might use them can help you plan your career development. In this article, we explain what administrative skills are, why they're important and how you can improve them.

Related: 34 Office Manager Interview Questions (With 7 Sample Answers)

What are administrative skills?

Administrative skills are qualities that help you complete tasks related to managing a business. This might involve responsibilities such as filing paperwork, meeting with internal and external stakeholders, presenting important information, developing processes, answering employee questions and so on. There are many skills that help you perform these responsibilities in an efficient and high-quality way.

Common administrative duties

Here is a list of common administrative duties where you may use both hard and soft skills:

  • Analyse reports and data

  • Develop communication strategies

  • Develop new products or services

  • Devise new technologies

  • Expand the company's social network base on online platforms such as social networking sites and blogs

  • Interview potential candidates for employment

  • Manage employees' schedules and work hours

  • Meet with important external stakeholders such as government officials and corporate partners

  • Maintain good working relationships with employees and partners

  • Maintain inventory of equipment and materials that employees use

  • Plan work schedules and job assignments

  • Prepare reports for external stakeholders

  • Research new products and services for the company's business plan

  • Maintain regular contact with internal and external stakeholders

  • Respond to customer service calls and emails

  • Research information about competitors

  • Resolve workplace disputes with employees

  • Take inventory of company assets

  • Undertake marketing activities such as advertising, public relations, sponsorship and lobbying

13 examples of administration skills to include on your resume

There are many soft and technical skills that contribute to a strong set of administrative skills. While the technical skills required for administrative tasks may vary from business to business, such as proficiency with specific software or platforms, there are several skills that are common among people in administrative roles. Here are 13 examples of skills administrative professionals may use:

1. Organisation

Strong organisational skills to keep your workspace and the office you manage in order. Having an organised desk, computer and calendar can help you complete administrative tasks in a quality and time-efficient manner. Administrative professionals might also be in charge of organising supply closets and filing systems.

Related: What Are Organisational Skills and How Can You Develop Them?

2. Planning and prioritisation

Strong planning and prioritising skills include being able to project workloads and stay on schedule. They may also be able to hire staff. Strong planning skills are related to being able to determine what tasks need to be done first on a project. For example, if a salesperson goes on vacation, the sales director may determine what tasks need to be taken over from the salesperson's assistant during their absence. Strong prioritisation skills relate to the ability of an administrator to organise and prioritise tasks from different areas of a business or area of expertise.

3. Problem-solving

Strong problem-solving skills are important for any administrative professional. Sometimes, the administrator is the person who identifies, researches and solves problems. Other times, the administrator may help facilitate communication between other parties to achieve a solution.

Read more: Problem-Solving Skills Examples (With Steps to Develop Them)

4. Interpersonal skills

Effective communication is an essential trait for any administrative professional that coordinates with other departments or works with external clients. Strong interpersonal skills can help you interact effectively with others. These skills include listening, communicating clearly and providing prompt feedback. An administrative professional may convey ideas, values and positions to effectively communicate with clients and co-workers.

Related: 15 Ways on How To Communicate Effectively at the Workplace

5. Patience and flexibility

Strong patience skills may help you deal with other people while doing administrative tasks. You might provide a wide range of support and update others on the status of the project. Flexibility can help you adapt to changes in priorities and other external factors. For example, if you work in the accounting department and the external auditors change their schedule, you might accommodate their new schedule or find someone else that can be present for an audit.

Related: What Are Resilience Skills? And How to Improve Them

6. Technical skills

In some offices, the administrator may have the technical skills to perform essential duties. For example, if you're an accounting administrator, you may know how to add, edit and post documents on specific accounting software. Other technical skills include using email, phones and other equipment within office settings.

Read more: What Are Technical Skills?

7. Discipline and a positive attitude

Administrators often have strong discipline and a positive attitude while performing administrative tasks. They may follow instructions while simultaneously maintaining client relationships to deliver a consistent product or service. To maintain a positive attitude during work, an administrator might take breaks periodically throughout the day to step away from their workstation or focus on other tasks for a short period.

8. Research

Administrators often can use the internet and library resources to research administrative topics, such as procedures or financial analysis. An administrative professional may also research trends in the industry or search for new technologies to implement in the office. For example, they may research new accounting software to assist managers in performing an audit.

Read more: Research Skills: Definition, Examples and Importance

9. Budget management

Administrators may complete budgeting tasks, such as calculating quarterly budgets and determining whether an expense is budget-friendly or cost-efficient. Strong accounting skills help them evaluate data and determine an appropriate budget amount. For example, if a company is considering changing its software system, the administrator may evaluate the cost of the software against the amount of time it may save in accounting tasks.

Read more: Budget Management Skills: Definition and Examples

10. Customer service

Administrators often use strong customer service skills to represent the company and ensure that clients and co-workers are happy with their interactions. To bolster client relationships, some supervisors may ask clients to speak with an administrator who can provide the customer service experience instead of providing it themselves. For example, a sales director might give more administrative tasks to an assistant sales manager who is particularly skilled at customer service, while the sales director focuses on larger projects.

Read more: What Is Good Customer Service? Definition and Guideline

11. Analytical skills

Administrators may examine a situation and identify a solution or a course of action. They might also determine if a project can be successful using certain parameters, such as time frame, location, the number of employees or other aspects of the business.

Related: What Is a System Administrator? (With Definition and Skills)

12. Phone communication

Administrators may have to answer incoming phone calls from clients and co-workers. They often have strong listening skills to determine what information to record. Also, they typically know how to answer a phone professionally and communicate ideas verbally with clients.

13. Leadership

Administrative professionals are often in charge of leading teams of employees with whom they work around daily. They often use strong teamwork skills to communicate effectively with others, especially when working on tasks that require collaboration between departments or specialists in different areas of expertise. Positive communication can bring people together and help them form lasting and productive relationships.

Read more: 10 Types of Leadership Styles

How to improve skills for an administrative career

Improving your administration skills can help you have a stronger work ethic by completing tasks in a punctual and quality manner while working well with others. Here are some steps you can follow to help:

1. Set personal career goals

Setting specific, measurable goals to increase your administration skills can help you improve over time. It can help to meet with trusted friends, colleagues or mentors to identify areas of improvement to determine which skills you can prioritise. For example, you may make a goal to practise your phone communication skills by conducting mock calls with your coworkers or supervisor.

2. Get organised

Organisation is an important part of being a good administrator. Take time to make a clean, organised workspace for yourself that can help you prioritise tasks, manage your time well and respond quickly to others who need the information you have in your possession. For example, you may use a filing cabinet to organise important documentation relating to your position.

3. Mimic others with strong administrative skills

If you have a colleague or manager that has strong administrative skills that you find effective, try adopting their practices in your own work. For example, if you find that their style of note-taking is helpful, you might also practise taking notes in the same way. You can also seek advice from these individuals on more subtle practices they may employ to be effective in administrative roles.

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