How to Become a Secretary
Would you like to start a rewarding career as a secretary in this digital age? If you are having assumptions about this profession, this is where you will finally know how to become a secretary.
This article provides all the vital information you need to start and maintain a successful career as a secretary. We will take you through your duties as a secretary, the skill you must have, how much you will be earning, and more useful information.
Let’s start by getting familiar with who a secretary is.
Who is a secretary?
A secretary is a person who is employed to carry out official duties, especially regarding filing, arranging meetings, and taking notes, as well as correspondence and other important administrative duties. They do these for an executive or the organization as a whole. Secretaries perform series of duties and ultimately play a big role in the success of the organization.
Duties of a secretary
Secretaries perform a plethora of duties for their organization. In many cases, senior employees have secretaries who are directly responsible for helping them perform better at their jobs. Even though some of these superiors have executive assistants, the secretary acts as both executive assistant and secretary in many ways.
Taking calls and messages
Communication skills, especially speaking, is needed to perform many duties as regards being a secretary. Part of your duty would be to answer phone calls on behalf of an executive, and the company as a whole. In many cases, secretaries receive calls first before their superior gets them. They notify the proposed call recipient before forwarding the call.
In the same way, other messages coming into the company, especially those directed to a superior, are taken by a secretary. When it is necessary to give a reply, it is sometimes the secretary’s job to reply to messages and calls.
Another major responsibility of a secretary is managing diaries. As a secretary, you are the unofficial babysitter of the company. You are there to make sure you perform your duties and help others work well also. Whenever there is a scheduled event, meeting, or appointment, it is on you to make sure the company does not miss it.
Likewise, your superior will depend on you to work effectively. You would have to schedule appointments, make reminders, and arrange appointments for your boss. If they would be traveling, you might be the one to make the traveling arrangements. These would involve booking the flight and hotel, while you clear their schedule where necessary.
Keeping records and typing
One of the primary duties of a secretary is typing. Secretaries are regarded as the fastest and most accurate typists. There will always be information to document, most of which will be typed on a computer. You will also be expected to prepare and collate reports during meetings, discussions, and other areas that will benefit the company.
A secretary always works with a large amount of data, some of which come in files. Filing documents is an important duty. It saves time and alleviates errors or any form of ambiguity. The proper storing and arrangement of office files in various categories is part of what every secretary must do expertly.
Organizing meetings and taking minutes
As a secretary, you will also act as the “utility manager” for your organization. You will manage important aspects of the proceedings in the organization, especially meetings. Expect to be the chief planning officer for office events and meetings. If there will be food, drinks, sound systems, and other equipment, your input will be needed.
Networking with clients
As a secretary, you will play important role in ensuring that your organization remains in the good graces of its clients. You will be needed to step up when your superior or Manager is not available to attend to clients. your duties will include fostering a relationship or partnership with relevant organizations your company can benefit from.
Also, you will need to perform apt customer service duties for clients, ensuring that they are well taken care of and the issues they have are being resolved.
Acting as the “utility staff” across many positions
Nowadays, being a secretary involves doing every other job that involves communicating with people. A secretary should be prepared to act as a receptionist, event planner, meeting anchor, and executive assistant. Some of these duties include receiving guests and making them feel welcome, discuss their reasons for visiting, and provide solutions where necessary.
Training new or junior secretaries
Secretaries train secretaries in the industry. It is expected that an experienced secretary would be more than capable of passing on the knowledge to the coming generation of secretaries. Although this responsibility will only fall on you when you attain a high level of experience and expertise, you must have it in mind that you will impact other people’s fortunes in the future.
Qualities of a secretary
Apart from the skills needed to thrive as a secretary, there are certain values employers look for in a secretary. These qualities fill employers with confidence knowing how vital the position is. A secretary must have the following traits.
A secretary must have this quality. Confidential information rarely gets by without the knowledge of a secretary. If an employer does not see you as someone they can trust, you will not get the job. There are various ways to prove that you can be trustworthy in an organization.
Ensuring that company secrets including dates, events, new developments do not get out until they are officially announced are part of it. Also, owning company property or equipment and not abusing the privilege screams fidelity.
Some qualities are well sought-after due to the impact they can have on the organization especially being a people person. Not everyone is good with people no matter how they try. You must be a likable person who people are comfortable being around. Secretaries work with people within and outside of the company and how they are with people affects the company they work for.
For secretaries, problem-solving qualities must cover two areas. Firstly, a secretary should be able to assist in solving organizational problems that could cause the company to not meet its target. Whether it is speeding up a contract bid or calling in favors for the company, secretaries must be able to contribute majorly.
In terms of relationships within the company, a secretary should be tactful enough to troubleshoot any issues. Helping to build relationships in an organization is a quality the most renowned secretaries possess.
A good communicator
The ability to communicate well is a vital quality every secretary must-have. Knowing how to interpret and convey information is the key. Some people err when they try to communicate even though they mean well; a secretary does not have that luxury. Good communication in gesture, speaking, writing, and listening are the qualities that will make you have a long and successful career as a secretary.
Education and qualification
Many employers still prioritize having a formal education first, especially for executive secretary positions. In most regions, having a high school diploma, GCSE, or post-secondary training is enough to get an entry-level job as a secretary.
These days, the qualification requirements vary and are more flexible. Some employers don’t deem formal education necessary as they place relevant skills ahead of degrees. In some cases, a new secretary is majorly tested based on their typing skills. Recruiters sometimes test a potential employee on how many words per minute they can type. Some employers go further by testing their audio typing skills.
However, some organizations prefer a degree holder in information and communications, English, business studies, or any relevant field. These qualifications and educational background are enough to get you a secretarial job. What will set you apart from your peers in the labor market are the supplementary certificate and skills you acquire.
Certain skills are required for the secretarial position. These skills are different from educational background or experience. They make a secretary stand out from their peers by enabling them to be better at their jobs. Even though you lack any of these skills, you can learn them.
Secretaries are required to be able to work alone and as members of a team. Having teamwork skills is important. Secretaries are always working with a superior or with a team of colleagues. Being able to play a vital role in a group effort, assist others, and cover for colleagues when they make an error are important traits of a good team player.
Time management and organization
Virtually everyone in an organization has high expectations for secretaries. Secretaries are expected to be the most organized and make the best use of their time. Not only are they expected to be responsible for themselves, but secretaries also use their time management skills to assist others in the company. Especially during a meeting or team project, everyone looks up to secretaries for organizational and time management input.
Attention to detail
A secretary’s job revolves around receiving, processing, and conveying information. As a secretary, you would be asked to handle important information as well as make vital contributions or interact with clients based on specific requirements. Carrying out these duties successfully depends largely on how much you pay attention to the fine print.
A secretary is perhaps the most flexible position in an organization. Although slightly unfair, almost everyone expects a secretary to be capable of performing multiple duties at once. Being able to multitask comes with the job these days and having the skill is an advantage.
In almost every organization, secretaries are the most reliable employees with all the facts about the goings-on in an organization. It is a powerful position where both individual and organizational privileged information falls on your lap. Being discreet is a skill that will you maintain peace at the office. Likewise, diplomacy is an important skill that will make a secretary earn the respect of both colleagues and superiors.
Digital or technological literacy
Technology is the spine that keeps every organization on its feet. As a secretary, digital intelligence is a must-have skill. Secretaries use various types of software to organize their work and that of their superiors including their itinerary. Being able to use modern software packages and learn new software tools in a heartbeat is a valuable skill.
Superior typing skills
Typing and shorthand skills used to be one of the first things that made a secretary stand out from the rest. These days, the former is still required for every secretary. Some employers conduct their interviews based on typing skills. The speed and accuracy a secretary should possess must be above the average person’s. Also, secretaries, today should be able to type from audio recordings. These skills can be learned and they are a must-have.
How much does a secretary earn?
A secretary’s salary depends on different factors. Also, the salary structure for secretaries varies across regions. For instance, the average pay of secretaries in the United States is between $14 and $16 per hour. Also in the UK, secretaries earn a salary of GBP19,000 and GBP25,000 per annum on average.
If you were to get a job in Singapore as a secretary, you should expect to earn a salary of between S$37,000 and S$55,000 annually. In Nigeria, secretaries earn between NGN70,000 and NGN235,000 monthly. While secretaries in South Africa receive a monthly check of between ZAR13,500 and ZAR15,000.
Likely places to work
Secretaries are administrative assistants who are needed in virtually every sector and organization. However, a secretary should aim at certain industries when they are looking to get a job. The best places for secretaries to work are hospitals, government establishments, financial institutions, schools, oil and gas companies, and more.
Although other sectors would accommodate secretaries, the above mentioned will provide secretaries with the environment and working conditions to thrive.
Besides having the qualifications and skills, a secretary must be able to think on their feet. Being proactive, always looking out for ways to make the organization function better, and being reliable are your core duties as a secretary. Let us know if you have any challenges so far with starting a career as a secretary in the comments section.