Whether your job title is administrative assistant, personal assistant or clerk, your role is one of the most vital in any organisation. Yet, administrative skills continue to be taken for granted and undervalued. There are some tasks, such as completing a property inventory where administrative skills are essential. To help you develop your pro clerk skills, here are our top tips.
Master the basic skills
At the very least, you must know how to use basic office software. This includes word processing programmes and database programmes. You need to know how to create documents and spreadsheets and how to update and share them in a variety of formats.
If your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are not perfect, there is software that can help with that. This is a set of minimum skills that you cannot do without. These skills need to be in place before you start work. As you use the software, you can build up further expertise.
Learn how to communicate effectively
Effective communication is a key skill for a pro clerk and administrator. Without it, your other skills are worthless. You should be able to communicate verbally with a range of colleagues and clients. You should be personable and friendly but also precise and professional.
Your written communication skills are also vital. Whether you are writing a 50-page report or one paragraph email, you must be able to clearly communicate. Your sentences must be well-structured and must clearly convey your meaning. Increasingly, your skills when using video conferencing will also be highly valued.
Attention to detail
The devil is definitely in the detail when it comes to pro clerk skills. Your ability to pay attention to the detail of a task or document will be a keystone of your skillset. If you can demonstrate that you have this skill, you will not be short of work. You need to learn to be meticulous and get into the habit of casting a critical eye over all of your projects before you start and before you submit them. This is the time to be a perfectionist.
Time management skills
Your time is rarely your own. When you are working, you are actually managing your bosses time or your client’s time. It is important that learn how to squeeze every drop of productivity out from every hour. Multi-tasking is an essential skill as you may be juggling several projects. You must be able to move seamlessly from one to another.
However, you must also know when you should turn off your notifications and focus on the one task. Learning how to prioritise tasks is a key part of this. Also, you must become adept at accurately estimating how long each task will take or you could get overwhelmed.
Build up your industry knowledge
As well as a basic skill set, your expert knowledge of a particular industry will be invaluable. For example, if you are working in the property sector, you should become familiar with the terminology and descriptions commonly used for different interior and exterior elements of a building. You can learn a lot of this by reading around the subject and learn even more on the job. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or to look things up. Eventually, people will be asking you!
Gain additional skills
A particular competency or expertise in a piece of software or tool is also highly desirable. This could be a spreadsheet, a web design programme or a property inspection app. It helps if the tool is widely used in the industry that you are specialising in. If necessary, invest in a training course to build up your skills. Additional knowledge is never wasted.
Maintain professional standards
Expected standards of professionalism will vary from industry to industry. However, there will usually be minimum standards for dress and conduct. You may be required to dress formally if you are meeting with members of the public or with colleagues from another business. You should also treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Don’t forget issues such as confidentiality and data protection. Your reputation and that of the people you work for is at stake.
Learn how to be tactful
When you are trying to get on with clients and colleagues, it sometimes pays to not speak your mind. The old adage, “the customer is always right” is also very true. Try to keep out of office politics and petty disagreements. Don’t openly criticise co-workers unless a serious breach of professional conduct is witnessed. It is important that a pro clerk is trusted by everyone in the office and is not seen to take sides.
Develop your judgment
Inevitably, there will be times when you have to use your judgement. This could be about a project, about when to delegate or about a particular task. You will not always get it right, especially when you start out. However, learn from your mistakes and your judgement will develop.
Work with your team
You cannot do this task alone – learning to be a team player is the most important tip of all!
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