The Changing Roles of Administrative Professionals

by Traci L. Fiatte, Group President, Randstad US

An indispensable part of any organization, top-notch administrative professionals are uniquely diverse and in high demand. From office management to event planning, an administrator’s job duties can vary greatly depending on the employer’s size, structure, and particular needs. Today’s administrative professional needs a skill set that is equally diversified if they are to contend for top opportunities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for administrative assistants will grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, an addition of almost 480,000 jobs. In Randstad’s 2015 Workplace Trends Report, 68 percent of office and administration hiring managers report that making a hire takes longer than it did previously. The increase in open positions, coupled with a growing pressure to fill roles without losing productivity, makes highly skilled administrative professionals a sought-after group. Specifically, Randstad is seeing great demand for administrative and executive assistants, customer service professionals and finance and accounting clerks.

Administrative Professional Career Growth
Not the Job of 30 Years Ago

As the business landscape continues to change, successful administrative or executive assistants must evolve with the needs of the organization. Companies are running leaner and sharing resources to maximize efficiency. Most executive assistants no longer tend to the needs of just one person. Instead, one EA often supports an entire department, a job that requires an organized person who can prioritize multiple assignments and deal with an array of personalities.

Similarly, technological advancements have eliminated the need for a dedicated receptionist role at many organizations. What was once someone’s fulltime responsibility is now one of many varied duties today’s administrative professional must master. For those who are nimble and can adjust to change, many opportunities in this field are available.

Few executives today expect an administrator to focus on making coffee or picking up dry cleaning. Instead, administrative professionals frequently provide more strategic support and, as such, should have a strong grasp on the business to run with an idea or contribute to a brainstorming session. Business acumen becomes important for office managers, especially in small organizations, who often take on payroll processing and light accounting duties.

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The Awakening of a Dormant Skill

One particular skill making a fast comeback is proficient typing, though the end result is not a dictated memo but instead a happy customer. Call centers, once filled with headset-wearing customer support professionals who answered phones, are now commonly referred to as contact centers where service representatives have adapted to consumers’ changing communication styles by becoming nimble typists.

The option to connect with customer support via electronic chat is quickly becoming consumers’ expectation. In fact, a recent Software Advice survey found that 56 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 prefer live chat to a telephone interaction. The customer service agents in today’s contact centers must not only be quick and accurate on the keyboard, but must also have a grasp on proper use of the language while chatting—abbreviated “text speak” may fly on one’s personal phone, but not as a company representative.

That Next Great Job

In our mid-year Employment Report, Randstad found that nearly one-third (32%) of office and administration professionals said they were likely to look for a new job within the following 12 months, rising from 28 percent who indicated so at the end of 2014. Randstad’s Employer Branding study revealed that the number one reason employees left or planned to leave their employers was lack of career growth.

Employers who fail to recognize their employees’ desires for a realistic and well-defined career path are more likely to lose out on great talent. Oftentimes, office managers and administrative professionals are the lifeblood of the organization or department. Their vacations are dreaded, and no one can perform seemingly simple tasks should they call in sick.

Managers should take time to identify their employees’ strengths and where they may progress within the organization. Employers who don’t show an interest in and follow through with their administrative team may find themselves in a difficult situation. At the same time, administrative employees should be proactive with their managers and be open about career expectations. Consistent and transparent conversations are vital and require both parties to make an effort to realize performance outcomes and career goals.

Administrators who intend to seek employment should prepare to not only show aptitude in problem-solving and time management, but also highlight their adaptive styles and willingness to learn new skills. Individuals who are adept with technology, including presentation software, web conferencing platforms, and cell phone and tablet troubleshooting, will have a leg up on the competition. Especially in smaller organizations, a background in human resources and accounting can give administrative professionals the edge.

Traci L. Fiatte, Group President, Randstad US
Traci is responsible for the strategic direction and business operations of multiple Randstad US businesses, including Commercial Staffing, Strategic Accounts and Life Sciences. Her responsibility includes oversight of all company-owned branch offices in addition to Randstad InHouse Services. Prior to her appointment to Group President in 2013, Traci was the Division President of Strategic and National Accounts; with her primary focus on accelerating the growth and profitability of Randstad’s largest customers. With over 19 years of industry experience, Traci is recognized for conceptualizing many key sales and operational innovations within Randstad and successfully leading teams to turn those innovations into successful businesses. This includes, but is not limited to, new recruiting delivery models based on client size and buying patterns and using “big data” for analytics-based sales approaches. Traci sits on Randstad’s Global Advisory Board and holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

3 thoughts on “The Changing Roles of Administrative Professionals

  1. As an administrative professional who is currently looking for a job in a new field, this was very interesting to read. I constantly avoid using my job title because of the “secretary” reputation. It really has grown far beyond that and the skills I’ve acquired are definitely valuable going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really very true, in the secretarial cadre there are changing roles that are brought in by technological changes in our office work environments. So a modern secretary/ administrator needs to diversify his or her skills to suit into the working environment for effective and efficient results which avoids disappointments in case of any failure to perform to the organizations expectations.


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