How do I know what technical skills are expected?
You can start with a safe assumption that general computer proficiency, with a high typing speed is a minimum. Proficiency with, or certification in Microsoft Office is generally expected. Many people find knowledge of basic bookkeeping, with an ability to use QuickBooks, to be helpful. Computer basics, typing, Microsoft Office, QuickBooks – all of these can be learned throughout the community, including here at The Working Centre.
From there the expectations will vary by sector and by employer. Looking at job postings, conducting labour market research, performing information interviews, volunteering – all of these will help to discover what is expected so that you can create a training plan and customize your applications to suit the employers’ expectations. The range of job search/networking techniques explored in this website will be indispensible to your labour market research.
Using your background knowledge
One way to get the edge in your job search is to draw on your background knowledge. Admin/office work spans all sectors and types of business. Often people come into admin work from a background in a specific sector. Use this to your advantage to market yourself as an admin specialist in that sector. For example, if you’ve worked in a cellular retail store, you can tie your experience with mobile electronics to your administrative skills to find work in an electronics company. If you’ve worked in manufacturing before, you can market yourself as administrative professional with strong background knowledge in manufacturing businesses and processes. Don’t ignore the experience you bring, but instead tie it in effectively with what you’re hoping to do.
Communications for the new economy
One other way that office work has evolved is the need for professional communication skills. Today’s worker needs to exhibit professionalism, politeness and tact in both written and oral communication. While doing your information interviewing, networking and labour market research, listen closely to how people are communicating. Are they choosing their words carefully, tactfully, politely and without judgement? What are the expectations for the quality of written communications? What is the tone and style of an email and how does it differ from a letter? Analyze what you see and hear to gauge your level of communication. Discuss this issue with your employment counsellor and make a plan to ensure your communication style will allow you to both get and keep the job.
These position requirements are taken from actual admin job postings:
- Ability to exercise tact and diplomacy in dealing with both internal and external contacts
- Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills, initiative and ability to communicate effectively and the flexibility to interact with many and varied clients/patients/ families/physicians and other members of the interdisciplinary team
- You are tactful, diplomatic, professional and discrete
- Excellent oral and written communications skills
- Strong interpersonal skills and customer service skills
- Knowledge of confidentiality, code of conduct and conflict of interest policies/procedures and practices and maintains compliance with all
Work with your employment counsellor to ensure you not only demonstrate these qualities in your application, but also in your written and oral communication.