Time stands still for no one, including administrative professionals says Robert Hosking

Gone are the days when filing papers, answering phones and scheduling meetings comprised the bulk of their daily routine. Today’s administrative job descriptions encompass so much more.

For their Office of the Future research, OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) recently conducted a survey of the responsibilities and titles of more than 2,200 support personnel in North America. The following highlights the evolution of the administrative field, and what workplace trends you can expect to see in the near future.

Duties and roles are diversifying

Administrative professionals still perform much of the conventional duties that have long been part of the profession, but many more tasks have been added to the mix. They are the go-to people for organizing meetings, planning events and creating presentations — sometimes even giving them. They also need to have top-notch technical skills: Proficiency in Microsoft Office is the minimum, with some employers requiring office professionals be adept at cloud-based apps, social media, database management and even website maintenance.

Here are some other skills that employers are adding to job descriptions:

  • Excellent written and verbal communications, including bilingualism
  • Customer service
  • Knowledge of a specific industry or business, especially healthcare and oil/gas
  • Financial savvy, such as handling expense reports and processing invoices
  • History of taking initiative — doing what needs to be done without having to be asked

Outdated job descriptions and titles get an upgrade

The mantra of modern administrative professionals is “No job is too big or too small.” With all these added responsibilities, some job titles are changing accordingly. According to OfficeTeam and IAAP’s study, some of the more innovative labels are Chief Executive Administrator, Administrative Chief of Staff and Director of Administration. There are even Directors of First Impressions (old title: receptionists). The survey also found that having an accurate job title is at least somewhat important to 93 percent of respondents.

Half of the survey respondents said their job description coincides with what they actually do, but a significant 41 percent said it does not. If you’re in the latter group, it may be time for an upgrade. This is especially the case for support staff who have been in their position for many years. When you’ve “outgrown” your job description and title, talk with your boss to see whether you can bring both up to date.

Ad hoc duties multiply

Some office managers, especially those in startups and smaller companies, have to do it all. When was the last time you were asked to take care of the office’s pet snails or to help land a helicopter on the roof? These are actual tasks that admins were enlisted to do, according to the survey.

Almost nine in 10 (87 percent) of respondents said they perform tasks outside of their job descriptions at least somewhat often. Here are some other actual duties from our survey that fall under the “other tasks and projects as assigned” category: get a visa to India in two hours, write a skit about hand-washing, organize a hula-hoop contest and… get a snake out of the women’s bathroom.

Administrative salaries keep up with changing job titles

Nearly half (46 percent) of administrative professionals surveyed felt they are being paid less than what they deserve in their current jobs. However, smart employers realize that they must pay more to attract candidates with in-demand skill sets. According to the OfficeTeam Salary Guide, US administrative salaries in 2015 are projected to rise an average of 3.4 percent over 2014. Here are some job titles that are anticipated to see larger percent increases, along with their 2015 salary ranges:

  • Senior executive assistant (+4.2%): $50,500–$67,250
  • Senior administrative assistant (+4.2%): $38,250–$49,000
  • Office/facilities manager (+4.1%): $38,750–$50,000
  • Medical executive assistant (+4.1%): $40,000–$56,250
  • Customer service representative (+4.1%): $26,500–$36,250
  • HR benefits specialist/coordinator (+4.0%): $38,750–$53,000

With rapid changes in technology, business and globalization, administrative job descriptions and titles are evolving almost as quickly. Make sure you’re keeping up with this office of the future.

Robert Hosking is executive director of the administrative and customer support practice at Robert Half, where he leads operations for nearly 300 practice locations worldwide. With close to 30 years of experience in the staffing industry, he has extensive ... (Read More)

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