The Right Admin Makes a Difference – A BIG Difference

The Right Admin Makes a Difference – A BIG Difference

by Jeanne Knutzen | August 7, 2018

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Its hard to believe but my company, PACE Staffing Network has been finding and placing employees in high impact administrative positions for over 40 years.

While the current market for administrative talent is strong, only a few of us remember back to the days in the 80’s and 90’s when clerical jobs were one of the most popular and in demand jobs in the working world.

Yes, PACE actually took orders and placed “Girl Fridays” and thought nothing of advertising for a prospective job candidate using that job title.  Hate to give our competition credit, but Kelly Services put themselves on the map with their famous Kelly Girl marketing strategy.  Even PACE temps got referred to as “Kelly Girls”

While we did get requests for executive level assistants – those elite employees who would provide dedicated clerical support to one or two senior executives – many of the jobs we filled were either  “general office” – the typing, filling, and phone answering duties that every office required or jobs in typing pools that later turned into word processing centers.

The skill requirements were simple and straightforward.  If a candidate could type at least 50 wpm, knew how to organize a filing system, and had enough polish to be pleasant on the phone, they could go to work in a clerical role paying just enough to supplement family income – not enough to pay all the bills.

The wages were kept low because because the candidates qualified to fill these roles, largely female, were happy to take these jobs, given the options for other type of employment wasn’t that great.  Yes, in those days the higher paying jobs went to more “career focused” males who quickly learned to rely on their clerical partners to make them look good.

In that respect, clerical jobs often were often interesting, sometimes challenging, but not frequently recognized as anything more than a 9-5 job.  (Remember the movie by that name???)

Fast forward to today’s marketplace and you’ll quickly see just how much the administrative landscape has changed.

While a solid mastery of generic business software like Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. will get a candidate in the door, to be hired, a good administrative employee (now called an administrative assistant or AA) has to have a resume that  shows a high level of experience and expertise in very specialized areas of administrative services.

While there are still a handful of jobs where the right Executive Assistant (EA) will be hired to support one very senior and busy executive, most AA roles are created to handle all of the administrative work it takes to support specialized teams, doing work that is an integral part of the team’s overall performance. Sales admins do sales forecasting, oversee the use of complex CRM software, and often calculate and pay sales bonuses.  Legal admins are often tasked to draft legal correspondence or other documents and will generate billable hours.  Healthcare admins are placed in positions where they need working knowledge of the complex laws and regulations unique to the healthcare industry.  Admins in all areas are expected to maintain complex team and individual schedules, conduct research, make purchasing decisions, plan meetings and events, create and give presentations, all while maintaining  basic  files, directories, and data bases.

It’s no wonder the right administrative assistant can make or break the performance of a team and manager who leads it.

The wage levels of most administrative jobs have gone up accordingly.  A skilled admin candidate can earn $25 -35/hr in a contingent role, slightly more if hired direct.

Todays administrative career seekers are a mixed bag of genders, age, and educational backgrounds.  PACE places as many males into into today’s admin roles as we do females.  We also place college grads into Admin Assistant roles where they have a chance to get their foot in the door of targeted industries or companies.

As the role of an AA (Admin Assistant) or EA (Executive Assistant) has grown, so has the sourcing and recruiting activities it takes  to find  the right AA or EA .  For PACE, our sourcing, recruiting and administrative vetting processes looks very much like the same  professional sourcing, recruiting and vetting processes we use when filling a senior level manager or director role.

Admin job descriptions are many and varied.  To get a good recruiting profile requires a careful review of the job’s work content.  Because administrative candidates come with very clearly articulated preferences for the type of administrative work and work environments they prefer, you can’t just place them anywhere and hope they’ll work out.

The hard or technical skills required to do most administrative jobs have increased exponentially.  Actual skill requirements must  be carefully identified with candidates assessed against those requirements  or run the risk of hiring a “great candidate” who simply can’t do the job.

And a candidate’s soft skills are often as important, if not more important, than their hard skills.  The personal qualities important to success have to be carefully identified in order for candidates to be screened for their can-do and “wanna-do” factors – i.e. the right “fit”.

And the list of soft skills most important to placement success is not a simple or short list.   The ability to organize work, set priorities, communicate with a wide variety of people, do  critical thinking, exercise  judgement, etc.  are all capabilities that have to be carefully vetted before you know you have an administrative winner.

Sourcing a good admin is no longer a matter of placing a job and waiting for a response.  The best administrative employees are likely to be currently working.

The market challenge of finding admin employees with advanced technology skills has significantly increased the screening needed to select the “right” admin candidate.

While the mastery of basic business software continues to be a base requirement for most admin roles, many of the requests we get for administrative talent require advanced levels of proficiencies in very specialized business software programs.   It is not uncommon for us to get requests from clients requiring skills in sophisticated CRM software (like salesforce.com), specific project management software (like Smartsheet), or advanced presentation or website updating software (like WordPress).    We are often asked to screen an admin candidate for their ability to troubleshoot technology issues for the team members they support – a very different level of technology talent.

How do we know if a candidate has the technology proficiencies our client’s need?

We test them.  Our testing arsenal is comprehensive covering over 150 different skill types and even more skill levels (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced). PACE now tests our administrative candidates on more hard skill proficiencies than ever before in our 40 year history.   Even customers who don’t hire through us but need a certain level of technology expertise, will ask us to skill test prospective candidates in the specific software’s they use  just to avoid the high costs of a hiring mistake.  (Check out PACEs skill assessment services – Hiring Help – here).

Looking to upgrade the admin support available to your team and enhance your overall team performance?

You’re not alone.  A significant business trend is to increase a team’s productivity by offloading all that detail work to a dedicated administrative employee.  The right administrative employee can make a difference to a team’s performance – a big difference!

If you’d like some help finding and/or selecting the next addition to your administrative team, you’ve come to the right place.  PACE has been placing administrative staff into high impact roles for over four decades.  We maintain a robust database of administrative candidates who look to us to help them find that “just right job”.

2018 Pace Staffing LogosIn today’s competitive marketplace, we offer a smarter, faster, and better way for the right employers and administrative employees to get connected!


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