General Assistant Job Description

General assistants provide administrative support to an executive, manager, or team. They arrange schedules, take phone messages, and organize important documents. General assistants also act as the company’s face and work directly with office visitors or clients through in-person visits, phone calls, and email. This can be either a full-time or part-time role that reports directly to an office manager. General assistants work behind a desk and computer in a traditional office setting, usually in the office’s lobby or waiting area. People who are well-organized and genial are good fits for this role.

 

General Assistant Duties and Responsibilities

General assistants perform a wide variety of tasks throughout the day, often needing to change directions at a moment’s notice. Most general assistants perform these core duties:

Arrange Schedules

General assistants manage their team or department’s schedules, ensuring everyone on the team is aware of upcoming activities and meetings. They also make sure meeting rooms are available during the requested time and rearrange the schedule as needed to accommodate last-minute changes or absent team members.

Take Phone Calls and Messages

General assistants are often the first point of contact for external callers. They answer the phones and answer simple questions for other departments. If necessary, they forward calls to the appropriate party or take messages if that person is unavailable.

Oversee Office Supply Needs

When office supplies get low, general assistants place orders to replenish them. They track supply levels to ensure nothing runs out and take special requests from employees, as appropriate.

Perform General Clerical Work

General assistants perform general clerical work for their team or the office. This includes mailing, scanning, faxing, printing, and copying documents. They also store master copies of important documents such as employee handbooks and policies.

Manage Building Maintenance

When the office needs maintenance work, general assistants call building managers or contractors to come fix the problem. They ensure the work is completed in a timely manner so the office employees aren’t inconvenienced by building problems.

 

General Assistant Skills and Qualifications

General assistants track everything happening in the office and are ahead of the curve when it comes to anticipating scheduling, employee, and supply needs. General assistants should possess at least a high school diploma or GED, but many employers prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree. Employers also prefer to hire candidates with one to two years of experience and who possess the following skills and qualifications:

  • Administrative experience – general assistants should have previous experience working in an administrative position and be familiar and comfortable performing administrative and clerical tasks
  • Customer service skills – general assistants work with employees and clients daily; a positive and upbeat manner helps to keep things running smoothly
  • Organization and attention to detail – everyone in the company relies on the general assistant’s attention to detail and organization; hiccups in the organizational details can cause problems
  • Time management – general assistants are excellent multitaskers, managing their time efficiently and professionally
  • Problem-solving skills – general assistants solve general office problems without assistance from upper management, ensuring operations run smoothly

 

Tools of the Trade

Successful general assistant candidates should be familiar with the following tools:

  • Microsoft Office Suite (especially Outlook)
  • Project management software (Basecamp, Asana, Slack)
  • Phone/conferencing systems

 

General Assistant Education and Training

Employers like to hire general assistants with a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree, but it isn’t commonly required. Once hired, the general assistant will likely undergo company and role-specific training to learn the ins and outs of the company and office.

 

General Assistant Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median earning for general assistants is $37,230 per year; top earners make upwards of $62,230 per year, while the lowest earners make $22,930 per year. Full-time general assistants are usually eligible for company benefits, including health insurance and vacation and sick time.

The BLS reports a negative job outlook for general assistants over the next 10 years. General assistants may experience a decline of as much as seven percent as advancements in technology allow many of these general clerical duties to be automated.

 

Helpful Resources

Read through some of these helpful resources to learn more about becoming a general assistant and the skills it requires:

International Association of Administrative Professionals – This organization offers plenty of resources for general assistants, such as online training programs, networking events, and valuable career resources. If you’re looking for a good place to start as a general assistant, you might want to check out a membership with this association.

The Definitive Executive Assistant and Managerial Handbook: A Professional Guide to Leadership for All PAs, Senior Secretaries, Office Managers and Executive Assistants – Written for general assistants, this book provides an insightful look into the field of assistants and what they can do to improve their performance and general leadership skills. It also looks at how important general assistants are to upper management and every team in the office. This book can teach you more about project management, negotiation, and recruiting.

The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness – Written for both general assistants and upper management, this book outlines the approach CEOs can use to get the most out of their general assistants. It uses real-world examples and anecdotes to teach you lessons you can take back to your own position. Look here if you want to learn how to better impress your manager and the company’s executives.

 

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