Top Trends in the Administrative Field

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Indispensible assistants: Where would we be without them?

Firms require administrative talent to support current and new operations that span across regions, time zones and countries. And companies are finding it challenging to locate staff. Unemployment remains low by historical standards, and demand for skilled professionals is high. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified office administrative services as one of the fastest growing industries through 2024.

The Hottest Administrative Roles
According to the OfficeTeam 2007 Salary Guide, starting compensation for support staff is forecast to rise an average of 3.5 percent this year. Senior office/facilities managers will see the greatest increase in starting salaries of any single administrative job classification, with base compensation expected to rise 8.2 percent to the range of $37,500 to $52,000 annually.?á Senior executive assistants will see average starting salaries of $39,000 to $54,750, a 6.5 percent increase over 2006 levels. Professionals in these roles are usually asked to take on more advanced tasks like budgeting and project management, and will be compensated accordingly.

Support staff in growing industries, such as manufacturing, financial services, commercial real estate and health care also may see higher-than-average pay. Medical executive assistants, for example, will see starting salaries increase 5.6 percent, to the range of $33,000 to $43,000 per year.


Qualities in Demand

According to a survey sponsored by OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), hiring managers said they consider organizational skills, initiative and attention to detail the most important qualities for support professionals to possess. Following are additional highly sought traits:

Experience -- In general, companies are looking to hire individuals with at least a year or two of related work experience. Applicants with three or more years of experience are in greatest demand.

Job stability -- Companies appreciate candidates who have stayed with previous organizations for at least two years, as it shows loyalty to the firm and allows the worker to gain a greater depth of knowledge about a particular position or industry.

Adaptability -- Eighty-five percent of managers surveyed by OfficeTeam and IAAP said the responsibilities of administrative staff are becoming more complex, beyond traditional tasks such as filing, taking notes at meetings, handling mail and e-mail, and answering phones. For example, companies seek professionals who can manage vendor relationships, resolve conflict, connect disparate groups of employees, learn new technologies, and train others on new equipment and applications.

Flexibility -- Being able to handle a variety of tasks is a necessary skill for administrative professionals, as they often fulfill several roles within their organizations. An administrative assistant, for example, also might handle the typical duties of an office manager, especially in a small organization. As a result, hiring managers seek candidates who demonstrate an eagerness to learn and work beyond their job descriptions.

Superior technical skills -- Most companies now require proficiency with Microsoft Office, but many prefer applicants who can show advanced skills in using this suite of applications. In addition, hiring managers polled by OfficeTeam, HR.com and IAAP said word processing, spreadsheet and e-mail and calendaring software skills are in high demand.

A commitment to continuing education -- Increasingly, college degrees are a prerequisite for many administrative positions. In addition to bachelor's or associate degrees, employers place a high value on the pursuit of supplemental college courses, online training and relevant workshops or seminars. Those who possess the Certified Administrative Professional, Certified Professional Secretary or Microsoft Business Certification (formerly the Microsoft Office Specialist certification) credential also are highly sought. These professionals can expect starting salaries that exceed average levels for their positions by 7 percent to 10 percent, according to OfficeTeam research.

Interpersonal skills -- Administrative professionals often interact with their companies' clients or customers, vendors and internal staff. Because they serve as the face of the firm, they must represent their managers and organizations in a professional way. In a competitive market for skilled candidates, companies may be willing to train inexperienced applicants if their interpersonal skills and personalities are a good match for the job. In fact, 67 percent of managers polled by OfficeTeam, HR.com and IAAP said they would hire an applicant with strong soft skills whose technical abilities were lacking; only 9 percent would hire someone who had strong technical expertise but weak interpersonal skills

The hiring outlook is most promising for candidates who can demonstrate they offer the complete package -- a proven ability to excel in the administrative profession, communicate effectively with others and contribute to the success of the team.

Check out:Our Top Trends for 2011 >>

Next: Top 10 Companies Hiring This Week >>


For more information about employment trends in 2007, request a free copy of the OfficeTeam 2007 Salary Guide at www.officeteam.com or by calling 800.804.8367.

OfficeTeam is the world's leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals. The company has more than 300 locations worldwide, and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.

Copyright 2007 Robert Half International.

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