NorthBridge Blog

Pat DuganAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 3,976,800 workers classified as secretaries and administrative assistants in 2014 (the most recent year for which they’ve posted figures). We’re on course for 4,095,600 people in those jobs by 2024. That’s a steady, if not spectacular, growth rate of 3% a year – but growth nevertheless.

We’ve helped companies hire a lot of secretarial and administrative workers over the years, so we’ve picked up a few tips on how to make a good hire for an admin role. Even though some might say, “Hey, it’s just an admin job – that’s not quite a make-or-break hire for my business, you know?”Chart

Our observation? A great hire is a great hire, regardless of the position, and they’ll help you in ways that go far beyond the job description. A bad hire? That’ll cause damage or costs that make a hiring manager regret not doing their due diligence in the first place.

So here are our time-tested tips for making a great administrative assistant hire, and avoiding the mistake of settling for mediocrity:

  • Know the level you need: Not all admin jobs are alike, and you may need a very specific set of skills to suit your need. An SMB won’t have the same demands on an admin or secretary as a major accounting firm or a category-leading IT company, so be sure you’re going after the right fit for the enterprise.
  • Lay out the challenges: Let them know the tough parts of the job – long hours? Demanding bosses? Hectic process? Constant pressures? Don’t sugar-coat the hurdles and headaches involved in doing the work. That way, you’ll weed out those who don’t have the fortitude or work ethic you’ll really grow to appreciate.
  • Test their skills: Don’t take it for granted they’ve got the abilities necessary to do the task. A good admin will have the platform and tech skills needed to keep the work –and you, if you’re whom they’re assisting – on track and properly coordinated.
  • Run them past key players: Meaning, the people (other than their supervisor) who’ll come in regular contact with them. It’s not as much about getting their approval (though that matters) as observing your potential hire’s ability to cope with their personalities and workstyles.
  • Expect them to nail the details: If you’re looking to hire a great secretary, they should follow every protocol of the interview process, from having the right documentation and a good-looking resume on hand at the start to sending appropriate thank-you notes after their interview. If they can’t get any of that spot-on, what are the odds they’ll do things right when they’re on the job?
  • Picture their potential: Do they strike you as having the competence and nose-to-the-grindstone commitment you’d be happy see take on a bigger job sometime in the future? Even if you’re not moving them up the ladder any time soon,  it’s good to know they’ve got what it takes, because they’ll be bringing it to their work from day one.

secretary-1713697_640A final bonus tip? Work with a specialized recruitment and staffing partner to find the right admins for your enterprise.

If you didn’t see that one coming, maybe you really do need to get a great assistant on board…soon!


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