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Career Advice

How to become an Office Administrator

Back in the day (whenever that was) an office administration or office junior role was seen as an entry level office administration position best suited to a school leaver with ‘good grades’. Nowadays however, a combination of a lengthy recession and a changing job market means that office roles of any description can be hard to come by, whether you’re a school leaver with good grades or not.  Bearing this in mind, we hope that these pointers on how to become an office administrator come in handy should you decide that this is the job for you…

Qualifications (UK)
Degree, HND and A ‘level’ courses can all cater for careers in and around an office. A business related qualification in Business Administration or a similar related subject may be advantageous when you get to the stage of applying for an administration job. Likewise, specific courses in administration studies or evening classes learning specific MS packages or secretarial qualifications will do you no harm either. However, proven work experience is often seen as a shortlisting criteria for many administration roles – a tough issue for those candidates without such experience.

Experience
So, as we mentioned earlier, in the good old days a junior admin role was often seen as an entry position, now however how does a graduate or first time job seeker gain office admin experience – if you need experience to apply in the first place? Well here are a few ideas:

  • Gain a work experience placement or apply for an internship (little pay for long term gain perhaps).
  • Consider if a family member or family friend owns a business? Perhaps offer to work in their office for free for a few weeks over holiday periods. In return you would gain valuable work experience – experience that you can add to your CV.
  • If you’re currently undertaking a course in a related subject, why not ask your lecturers if they are aware of any departments that may need some administration support (even just for a week or two)?
  • Volunteer to work for a charity or startup enterprise and suggest working for a couple of weeks for free in return for the experience.

tempAdmittedly, I appreciate that for a few of you, the alarm bells are ringing! Working for free never sounds good, however the reality is that if it is just for the short term, that experience you will gain may prove to be invaluable – it may make you stand out compared to the 100 other applicants that apply for that same administration job. You may also find that if the employer or business that you work for, values your work, they may end up offering you a paid position, placement or part time role going forward.

If you have other work experience, but not in an administrative capacity – consider what skills and experiences that you have that are transferable into an office administration role. Compare your CV to the job spec that you are applying for and consider if you have relevant work skills for any of the main job duties and responsibilities listed.

Type of person
It stands to reason, but good administration and IT skills are pretty essential! Good working knowledge of all standard computer packages such a MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint are really an essential and in some workplaces, experience and ability in using SAGE and SAP will also go down well. As you are generally responsible for a process, system or procedure – having good organisational and methodical skills, will come in handy, as will  attention to detail, good general spelling skills, the ability to listen and also to work well under pressure and time deadlines.

So if you still think a position as an office administrator is for you – we hope these tips will help you along the way in becoming an office administrator. Good luck!

Looking for a job, but not too sure what career path to follow? Check out TheEmployable “How to Become” career directory

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