The Administrative Role Redefined: Making a Great Hire

by Linda Perneau


Administrative Professionals Day is celebrated on April 26. It is important to acknowledge these unsung workplace heroes—office and administration workers—who quietly keep companies humming efficiently and smoothly.

Office and administration roles are advancing, with responsibilities that now look more like middle management than support staff. The recession and advancements in technology have both contributed to the evolution, as more companies turn to fewer support staff to take on more duties. In Randstad’s Office & Administration Workplace Trends Guide, more than 2,000 hiring managers say today’s office and administration support staff:

  • Are tasked with increasing responsibility. The American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP) agrees, noting that many in these roles now make purchasing and budgeting decisions, plan corporate events and even support training programs or marketing initiatives.
  • Are often the face of the organization. An employee has tremendous impact over a company’s brand awareness and perceptions.
  • Could be the next CEO. Many employers view some administrative roles as a stepping stone to higher positions.

The result is more clout in the organization and greater recognition of the important role office support staff play, as well as the need for more highly skilled, right-fit employees to maintain operational efficiency.

Recruiting Office and Administration Talent

Administrative positions are unique; no two jobs are exactly the same. While jobs with similar titles may share a number of characteristics, nuances make each position incredibly different. That doesn’t mean, however, that skills gained aren’t transferrable to a different work environment or new position, or that administrative professionals can’t adapt. In fact, quite the contrary is true. Office and administrative support has always been a vital business function, but we’ve seen its role within organizations dramatically transform over the last 70 years. More than ever, technical and communication skills are changing job requirements.

If you are hiring or plan to expand your team this year, it’s critical to understand and define the characteristics of the open position in order to find the right candidate who will thrive in the role. As you review resumes, don’t assume that a candidate’s comparable job title automatically indicates a great fit. Why? Here’s one example:

At a large company, the primary responsibilities of an administrative assistant may be answering the phone and coordinating travel arrangements for one specific department.

At a small company, an administrative assistant could be responsible for answering the main phone line, ordering office supplies, providing data entry support and maintaining the social media accounts.

Therefore, an administrative assistant candidate with six years of large-company, departmental experience might not be the best fit for a smaller company.

Instead, we advise our clients to look not only at how well candidates meet the job’s requirements on paper, but also at how well their prior work histories align with the open position. Specifically, hiring managers should take note of:

  • specific job duties and responsibilities
  • performance expectations
  • required skills and knowledge
  • scale of the position and size of organization
  • nature of the work in terms of company type and specific department
  • work environment, team makeup and cohesion, reporting lines and work style
  • company culture and industry dynamics

By outlining these characteristics, you’ll be able to better attract the right candidates and be prepared to offer pay that properly aligns with the responsibilities you are looking for your next superstar to handle.

Linda-Perneau_Temp.jpgLinda Perneau is responsible for the strategic and operational direction of multiple Randstad US businesses, including office and administration, manufacturing and logistics and non-clinical healthcare. Linda is a highly qualified, results-driven leader with over 20 years of staffing industry experience. Her vast knowledge of strategic planning, start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, operational excellence and geography expansions has enabled company growth well above market in revenue, direct hire placements and gross margin. Prior to her current position, Linda was chief operating officer for Randstad’s Commercial Staffing business.

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