what does a secretary do?

11/01/2019

Secretaries have one of the most important business support roles, as they are expected to instantly iron out any problems and inefficiencies within the office environment. Secretaries spend their time resolving issues and keeping things ticking over smoothly by taking care of the general admin work that a busy office generates. They diligently help others to complete their jobs as effectively as possible.

In addition, secretaries are often called on to work closely with high-level individuals within the business, taking on personal assistant responsibilities. This article will introduce the role for individuals interested in secretarial work.

Day-to-day activities

Although the tasks secretaries are responsible for can vary significantly, in general, they spend a great deal of their time working with a computer to keep the office organised by arranging meetings, typing up correspondences and reports and organising files and records. They may also be required to manage office admin tasks such as organising holiday dates, managing staff wages and keeping the office stocked up with the right stationery.

Individuals in these roles may also be required to interact with a manager in order to type up dictation, answer phone calls and organise their travel arrangements and diary. Depending on the company, the secretary may also be asked to pay invoices and complete more general tasks, such as preparing hot drinks for meetings and welcoming visitors.

Variations on the role

Companies define 'secretary' in different ways; in a small company, for example, the secretary alone is usually responsible for completing the majority of the office's administrative tasks, so the individual has to spin many plates.

Larger companies, on the other hand, tend to employ a variety of specialised administrative staff, which enables secretaries to work solely within one department; for example, in finance. Some secretaries work as PAs, spending most of their time working directly with one manager or executive, rather than interacting with the entire office.

Secretarial roles usually entail taking on similar responsibilities to positions like office administrator, receptionist and office assistant. At many companies, the titles are effectively interchangeable.

Growth potential

Secretaries have to deal with a wide range of varied tasks, so need to be versatile and develop a wide skill-set if they are to be successful. A secretary might have to learn shorthand in order to take down meeting notes quickly, while also needing spreadsheet skills in order to perform budgeting tasks effectively.

While there is often limited scope for direct progression within smaller companies, individuals who show a willingness to develop their skill and experience levels can advance to larger companies or move into a more specialised position; such as an accounts executive.

The best secretaries are often snapped up by managers as personal assistants, which can lead to very generous salaries being awarded at the higher levels.

Any secretaries looking for a new challenge or who believe they must move companies to progress their careers should consider using a recruitment company's specialist knowledge to help them achieve their career goals and find relevant vacancies.

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