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How to Find the Perfect Administrative Assistant

As companies grow, the importance of having an effective back-office support system becomes increasingly evident. For mid-level managers juggling various responsibilities, an exceptional administrative assistant can be the linchpin that holds everything together. But how do you find that perfect candidate who meshes with your company culture, understands your needs, and can multitask effortlessly?

Here’s a comprehensive guide to help any manager or admin find their perfect admin assistant.

1. Understand Your Needs

Before starting your search, it’s essential to clearly define what you’re looking for. Do you need someone to manage appointments and answer phones, or do you also want them to handle more complex tasks like project management or data analysis?

Tip: List out all the tasks you anticipate needing assistance with. This will give you a clearer picture of the skillset required and can serve as a basis for the job description.

2. Write a Comprehensive Job Description

This is very key when looking for an administrative assistant. Before going to look for candidates, you need to concisely take the skills that you prioritize as an admin and consolidate them into an easy-to-understand job description.

Think about the role and what you’re looking for support on, and then write your job description to be both clear and detailed. It should outline:

  • The roles and responsibilities of the position
  • Required skills and qualifications
  • Any necessary software or tools they should be familiar with
  • The company’s values and culture

Tip: Ensure the job description is SEO-friendly. This will make it more likely to appear in search results when candidates look for administrative assistant positions.

3. Look in the Right Places

To find the best candidates, advertise in places where professionals seek administrative roles. Beyond the general job platforms like Indeed or LinkedIn, it’s also worth considering geographical areas that have become hubs for administrative talent.

Domestic Platforms:

  • Niche job boards like IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) are perfect for finding local talent.

International Avenues:

  • The Philippines: The Philippines has become a leading country when it comes to outsourced administrative support. With a workforce well-versed in English and known for its adaptability and strong work ethic, Filipino administrative assistants can be invaluable, whether you’re considering remote or relocated roles. Platforms like OnlineJobs.ph or JobStreet can be instrumental in this search.
  • India: Known for its vast talent pool and competitive rates, India is another destination to consider. Websites like Naukri.com and Shine.com can aid your search for administrative professionals in the region.
  • Eastern Europe: Countries such as Romania, Poland, and Ukraine have seen a steady rise in administrative professionals available for both local and remote work. Websites such as Jobrapido are useful in these regions.

Tip: Networking remains invaluable. Whether you’re considering local or international candidates, asking peers, colleagues, or industry connections about their experiences and recommendations can provide insights and lead to potential candidates who might be a good fit.

4. Screen Resumes Thoroughly

When reviewing resumes:

  • Check for relevant experience: Prior roles, responsibilities, and the length of service can indicate their competence and dedication.
  • Review their skills: Are they familiar with the necessary tools or software? Do they have any additional skills that could benefit your company?
  • Assess their qualifications: While a degree isn’t always necessary, certain certifications or courses can add value.

Most times you’ll catch fairly early on during interviews if a candidate doesn’t have the right skills and personality for a job, but you will need to save your time and only send interview invitations to the candidates who have great-looking resumes and answer your screening questions well.

5. Prepare for the Candidate Interview

An interview isn’t just about assessing the candidate’s suitability for the role; it’s also about gauging their fit within the company culture. Prepare questions that delve into their:

  • Work experience
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Interpersonal skills and teamwork
  • Adaptability and how they handle stress

Tip: Include scenario-based questions. For example, “How would you handle a situation where two executives request your support at the same time?”

Interviewing an administrative assistant takes some skill to figure out how they would fit with your personality, work style, and the overall company culture. Given that most skills in admin assistant roles can be learned, we recommend that you prioritize soft skills and personality rather than technical skills, unless you really need a technical person.

6. Prioritize Soft Skills

While technical abilities and specific knowledge of tools are imperative for an administrative assistant, soft skills can truly differentiate a good candidate from an exceptional one.

  • Communication: Administrative assistants often serve as a bridge between different departments, executives, and external stakeholders. Clear and effective communication ensures that tasks are completed efficiently, misunderstandings are minimized, and relationships are nurtured.
  • Adaptability: The business landscape is always changing, with new challenges arising unexpectedly. An administrative assistant’s ability to adjust to new situations, whether it’s adopting a new tool or adjusting to a sudden change in an executive’s schedule, is invaluable.
  • Problem-solving: It’s not uncommon for administrative assistants to face challenges such as double-booked meetings, missing documents, or technological hitches. An innate ability to calmly assess the situation and find solutions is a hallmark of a top-tier assistant.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Being able to read, understand, and respond to one’s own and others’ emotions is critical. This can help in navigating complex office dynamics, understanding the unstated needs of executives, and building a harmonious work environment.

Tip: During interviews, ask open-ended questions or present hypothetical scenarios to gauge a candidate’s soft skills. Their responses can provide insights into their ability to handle real-world situations.

7. Invest in Training

Every company has its unique processes, tools, and culture. Investing in training ensures your administrative assistant is not just competent but excels in their role.

  • Onboarding Process: This is where most companies fail and can leave new hires feeling ill-equipped for their job. A structured onboarding process can make the transition smoother for new hires. Introduce them to key team members, provide an overview of essential tools and software, and assign them a mentor or buddy for their initial weeks. Dedicate a lot of time to getting them introduced to systems and people, especially with Gen Z candidates.
  • Skill Development Workshops: Regularly organize workshops to enhance both hard and soft skills. Whether it’s a seminar on the latest software or a session on effective communication, continuous learning can drive productivity and job satisfaction.
  • Feedback and Assessment: Periodic assessments can help in identifying areas where further training is required. Constructive feedback ensures that the administrative assistant is always aligned with the company’s goals and expectations.
  • External Training Programs: Consider enrolling your administrative assistant in courses or certifications relevant to their role. The IAAP, for example, offers a Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) program that covers organizational communication, business writing, and technology.

Tip: Encourage a culture of open communication. If your administrative assistant feels they need training in a particular area, they should be comfortable approaching management about it. This proactive approach can preempt potential challenges and enhance overall efficiency.

8. Seek Feedback

Once your new administrative assistant is on board, regularly seek feedback from those they work with closely. This will provide insights into their performance, areas of improvement, and how well they’re integrating into the team. Consider having someone that is external to you like an outsourcing partner manage this relationship so that insights and feedback can be more useful and guided.

Next Steps to Find Your Administrative Assistant

Finding the perfect administrative assistant is a blend of understanding your needs, searching in the right places, and prioritizing both hard and soft skills. By following this guide, mid-level managers at growing companies can effectively streamline their back-office operations and foster a positive, efficient work environment. Remember, the right administrative assistant doesn’t just support; they amplify the efforts of the entire team.

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