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Administrative Assistant PositionResearch Paper

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¶ … administrative assistant role is a Level I role within the organization, meaning a low-level role with only a handful of basic skills and knowledge requirements. Most of the tasks are non-technical in nature, and what tasks are technical are relatively easy to learn. The tasks are all of roughly equivalent importance to the overall function of the company, but additionally most tasks are fairly easy to perform and could be performed by most people within the company. The job requires multitasking and a high level of professionalism, as well as some use of specialized software, and these are perhaps the most critical aspects of the administrative assistant position in terms of determining compensation level and guiding the hiring and onboarding processes. This report will outline the key tasks of this position, the KSAOs required to perform these tasks and will explain the most important elements of the position to provide guidance as to what an excellent worker at this job looks like. Four interviews were conducted to help build this report, along with the input of SMEs.

Introduction

A job analysis is "the process to identify and determine in detail the particular job duties and requirements…for a given job" (HR Guide, 1999). The job analysis process seeks to understand the requirements and key success factors for either a job that already exists, or a job that is being filled (Entrepreneur, 2015). Job analysis has also been defined as "procedures that collect information describing verifiable job behaviors and activities" (Harvey, 1991), which provides further clarification about what a job analysis is and what it should entail. The following report will provide a job analysis for an administrative assistant position.

Job Description

The Administrative Assistant position involves working in an office setting and performing a wide range of administrative duties. These duties include but are not limited to typing, mailing, making phone calls, ordering and managing office supplies, researching, greeting visitors and sorting mail. The Administrative Assistant will typically perform these tasks for several different people within the office.

The job takes place at a desk, where the Assistant is seated with a computer and full range of office equipment. The interviewees did not state their hours, but these are assumed to be from 8:30am to 5pm, with a break for lunch. The working conditions are thus indoors, and they are stable from one day to the next. Movement around the office occurs, but otherwise the Administrative Assistant spends most of the day at his/her desk.

Job Specification

A job specification is defined as " a statement of the essential components of a job class including a summary of the work to be performed, primary duties and responsibilities, and the minimum qualifications and requirements necessary to perform the essential functions of the job" (Thomas, 2015). There are a couple of approaches to the job specification. One approach is to approach the analysis from the perspective of the worker -- what KSAOs the worker must have in order to perform the duties inherent in this position, or the approach can be based on the perspective of the tasks that need to be performed (Curnow, 2015).

The first aspect of this is the qualifications. For this job, there are a few important qualifications. First, the applicant must have a high school diploma as a minimum education level, because of the reading, writing and responsibility that the job entails (BLS, 2015). The second minimum qualification for the position is that the applicant must be fluent in English, as that is the language of the office. No other language skills are necessary, though Spanish or ASL would be positive attributes. The person performing this role should also have good written and oral communication skills, as the job requires answering telephones, greeting visitors and various written tasks.

There is some technology involved in the job, so it is a necessary requirement that the person should have basic computer skills including office software. This is a fairly basic skill, but we must document that it is required, just in case. Some basic typing skills will also be a requirement, as well as rudimentary (grade school) mathematical competence.

Task List

A task list can be built through interviews with the people doing the job, as well as their supervisors. There may be some disparity between what the person actually does on the job, and what the supervisor thinks the job is. So it is important to conduct interviews with both to get a sense of what the job really is. There are a number of issues that can be identified in this process, which is usually accomplished by brainstorming. The task list for this position is as follows:

Provides support for all office staff

Greets visitors

Data entry, including on spreadsheets

Process credit bureau deletions

Handle daily client requests

Write letters

Filing and scanning of documents

Receive and sort mail

Receive and direct calls

Provide employment applications to potential employees

Order office supplies

Research information for both internal and external clients

Handle email requests, and sort emails

Make photocopies

Write and send faxes

Convert Word docs to pdf

Most of these tasks are done every day. The fax machine might be used a couple of times per week in recent years. All of these tasks are important, or the administrative assistant would not do them. Dealing with customer inquiries, especially in person or over the phone, is the most time-sensitive aspect of the job because somebody is present and awaiting a response. If there is a task that might qualify as less important, it is the ordering of office supplies, because usually there is a fairly healthy inventory and if this task is put off for a day or two it will not be a big deal. But there is money associated with that ordering, so in that sense it is actually one of the more important roles. There are no tasks that involve personal safety issues, which would elevate their status. In general, these are all important tasks, and time critical because the efficient function of the organization demands that they be performed daily.

That said, there are no technical tasks. Anything that the administrative assistant does could be done by somebody else. This is one of the reasons why it is difficult to subordinate any of these tasks to the others -- they are genuinely of equivalent importance.

Worker Characteristics

The worker characteristic approach to understanding a job involves identifying the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics that are important to the performance of this role. In order to perform this role to spec, a person needs to have basic office functionality. In terms of knowledge, this means a working knowledge of how to use basic office equipment (computer, telephone, fax machine, photocopier) and software (Word, Excel, proprietary contact management software). The employee will need to be skilled in their written and oral communication, in particular they need to be professional and tactful at all times. Typing skills are essential, because of the volume of typing that is required.

A critical ability is time management, including under pressure. There will be instances where multiple tasks need to be performed in short order. There might be a visitor to the office and a ringing phone in addition to a list of tasks that need to be completed. The ability to quickly and efficiently prioritize tasks, and handle them, in order that they are all finished in the appropriate time is a critical attribute for someone in this job. If a person can only do one thing at a time, they will not succeed here, so prioritization, time management and multitasking are all essential skills.

There are other skills needed to perform these tasks. Fluency in English is one. The ability to alphabetize is another. So to summarize:

Use a fax machine

Use a computer

Use a photocopier

Use Word

Use Excel

Use email

Use a telephone

Speak English

Write English

Time management

Use proprietary customer management software

Written communication skills

Professionalism

Oral communication skills

Multitasking

Basic bookkeeping and grade school math (for ordering office supplies)

Ability to prioritize (triage) work under pressure conditions

A different way of conceptualizing the importance of these tasks is to analyze them in terms of which tasks require the most unique skills. There are no truly unique skills required of this position, but the time management and ability to prioritize was stressed in the interviews. This does not apply to any one specific task, but how to manage the different tasks inherent in this position.

The use of Excel, basic bookkeeping and use of customer management software are probably the most complex tasks require of this position, so those are the skills that we are most likely to look for when hiring. Most people with the requisite educational background (high school or better) can be trained to perform any of these tasks fairly easily, so the educational requirement is also something that will be a key factor in the hiring decision.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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