Office Secretary Job Description

An Office Secretary maintains the smooth running of an office through a variety of administrative and clerical duties. They handle office schedules, coordinate meetings and visits, organize files, answer phones and perform a huge array of other essential tasks. Office Secretaries generally work directly for organization or office management, and depending on their experience may also supervise other clerical staff.

Office Secretaries are employed in virtually every industry, particularly business, law, medical and education. Job growth for Office Secretaries is slow but steady. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an increase in Office Secretary jobs of 3 percent through 2024, which will add over 100,000 additional jobs.

 

Office Secretary Duties and Responsibilities 

To keep an office running smoothly and efficiently, Office Secretaries perform many tasks. We analyzed several job listings to identify these core Office Secretary duties and responsibilities.

Answer Telephones

Office Secretaries are the office gatekeepers – they answer the phone, take messages or refer calls to appropriate staff member.

Maintain Calendar and Plan Meetings

Office Secretaries schedule appointments and update event calendars. They also arrange meetings and coordinate conference room schedules. In advance of meetings, they assemble background materials and set up the meeting space. They attend meetings and prepare minutes or summaries of the meeting outcomes.

Handle Mail

Incoming and outgoing mail and faxes all go through the Office Secretary. They open, review, sort and distribute the mail to the appropriate recipients. Office Secretaries also maintain email lists, and distribute information to staff.

Prepare and Edit Documents

As the last person to see documents before they are sent, the Office Secretary reviews outgoing correspondence for grammar, correctness and completeness, and insures that appropriate material is attached. They prepare memos or other reports for internal or external distribution. They may also make travel bookings and prepare travel expense reports.

Maintain Databases and Filing Systems

Office Secretaries design, implement and maintain filing systems, both electronic and paper. When requested, they search for and compile requested material from the databases.

Maintain inventory

The Office Secretary tracks office supplies and orders replacements as required. They may be responsible for an office budget for supplies and other expenditures.

 

Office Secretary Skills

Well-organized and detail-oriented, a successful Office Secretary must be able to multi-task and take instruction from many sources. Key traits for an Office Secretary are strong interpersonal skills and a positive attitude. In addition to these general skills and personality traits, employers are seeking Office Secretary candidates with the following skills.

Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Office Secretaries with these core skills. If you want to work as an Office Secretary focus on the following.

  • Knowledge of general office procedures
  • Knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software, including Word and Excel, and the ability to learn billing software and electronic medical records
  • Ability to operate office equipment (fax, copier, mail, etc.)
  • Customer service experience
  • Ability to type at least 40 words per minute
  • Proficient in proofreading, spelling, grammar punctuation and math

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Office Secretary toolbox and broaden your career options.

  • Knowledge of ICD-9 and CPT Coding
  • Knowledge of medical or legal terminology
  • Proficient with tape transcription and ability to take shorthand
  • Familiarity with File Site, a document management system

 

Office Secretary Q & A

Do you think a career as an Office Secretary is for you? Secretaries, also called Administrative Assistants, work in all types of organization, from commercial to nonprofit, in all kinds of industries. Kara Jorges has been an Office Secretary in the legal field for nearly two decades. We asked her to give us the inside scoop about the job. Here is what she told us.

What’s the most rewarding part about being a Office Secretary?

I have been part of million-dollar cases that were in the media. It’s rewarding to have an inside track and get an understanding of other industries. I also like the environment in which I work, which is upscale white collar.

What is the biggest challenge faced by Office Secretaries?

My job is to take care of other people and make them happy, and sometimes that’s not easy to do.  Everyone has a particular way they like things to be done, and bosses with secretaries can get very spoiled by someone knowing all their whims.  When someone new takes over, or is just helping out, often the boss expects the new person to be privy to all the knowledge the old one had.  The legal field is also very stressful, as there are deadlines and court rules to follow, and I’m often given a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, and it’s expected to be done right.

What skills do you use every day?

Typing, spelling and grammar are all extremely important, but so are people skills.  Secretaries not only deal with others in the office, but clients, courts, opposing counsel, couriers and court reporters. People skills are very important. Good English skills and typing are a must, and a working knowledge of current technology is essential.

Who succeeds in this job?

Secretaries handle all the details, so attention to detail is important. Diplomacy is also important when dealing with bosses and others mentioned above. A strong work ethic is also important, without requiring glory.

Are there any misconceptions people have about being a Office Secretary?

The biggest one I hear is that we’re sexual playthings for our bosses. Most secretaries I know don’t waltz around in hooker heels and tight skirts, and our bosses would be appalled if we did.  My own experience, and what I have seen, is that bosses rely heavily on secretaries and need one who is professional and efficient.  Looks come in dead last when it comes to qualifications.

 

Office Secretary Resources

We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as an Office Secretary. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.

On the Web

Executive Secretary Magazine – Read the latest news from the world of Executive Secretaries, and find out about training events and other great resources.

Laughing All the Way to Work – An entertaining and insightful blog from a seasoned administrative professional.

On LinkedIn

Personal Assistant and Office Manager – Network and exchange information with over 110,00 other administrative professionals.

e-LEGAL Support: Paralegals, Legal Secretaries, Virtual Assistants, Law Clerks & Admin Staff –Finds jobs and news for Legal Office Secretaries, one of the biggest fields for Office Secretaries.

Industry Groups

Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals – This non-profit provides news, research, and advice for those working as corporate secretaries.

The Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals – Take a free salary survey to find out what you might make as an Office Secretary, or find practical advice on various issues of interest to administrative professionals.

American Society of administrative Professionals – Loads of educational webinars, articles, and certification to build up Office Secretary skill-sets.

Office Secretary Books

Administrative Assistant’s and Secretary’s Handbook by James Stroman – Everything you need to know to be an effective Office Secretary.

The Law Office Reference Manual by Jo Ann Lee and Marilyn Satterwhite – For those interested in working as a Legal Office Secretary, rush up on legal terminology and the workings of legal offices.

Jewel in the LEADER’s CROWN: Powerful Strategies to Shine as an Executive Assistant & Beyond by Ruth Mead – Full of secrets and strategies to be the best possible Administrative Assistant or Office Secretary.

 

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