Gone are the days when working as support staff in an office setting meant fetching coffee and running personal errands for upper management. Advanced technology has taken workplace professionalism up a notch and has greatly changed the role that the administrative professional plays in overall office operations and functionality.
Many things have changed since the days when most administrative assistants were simply referred to as secretaries. In the past, there were many people who did not consider being an administrative professional as the end goal in a job search. It was often viewed as a stepping stone on the way to other job specialties within a company or industry. In today's workforce, however, the rise of integrated software systems and mobile technology has created opportunities that make it much more desirable, and easy, to create a viable career around being an administrative professional.
Home-based businesses have been on the rise for several years. A good percentage of those businesses sell administrative services. Virtual Assistants, or VAs, have become quite popular and are regularly used by entrepreneurs and other small business owners. Many administrative professionals have found success through hiring themselves out as virtual assistants or through running a virtual assistant agency. In an virtual assistant agency setup, the administrative professional acts as a middleman and finds virtual assistants to perform various administrative tasks for clients. He charges a fee for this service and for the specific tasks being done. Home computers, email, portable printers and wireless technology allow all business operations to be conducted from the comfort of the administrative professional's home.
Whether he works from home or in an office setting, the biggest factor by far in the change of scope of an administrative professional's job description is the growth of technology. The administrative work force has taken on many more workplace responsibilities than in years past. In addition to maintaining schedules, greeting visitors and answering phones, administrative staff have had to become tech savvy in order to function optimally in their jobs. The administrative professional who operates most successfully in the modern work environment is adept at learning to use new software systems and efficient at troubleshooting simple technical problems with computer programs and hardware. Conversely, as the administrative staff takes on more advanced responsibilities, the professionals that they support are becoming more self-sufficient in doing things such as drafting their own correspondence and setting their own appointments.
The 21st-century administrative professional needs more than efficient clerical skills to find success in the modern job market. In order to command a competitive salary, traditional office skills need to be combined with global communication skills and the ability to keep pace with complicated and ever-changing computer systems and emerging technology.
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