Which skills are employers looking for when hiring support staff? What does it take to be the kind of management assistant businesses can't do without? Some key skills are crucial for you to master in order to deliver exceptional results and build a strong relationship with the people you are supporting.

Asia Skifati, Senior Manager of the Business Supports division highlights 5 key skills employers look for when hiring management assistants.

1.   Be a strong communicator

As a management assistant, you will be in contact with people at different levels of an organisation. Strong language and communication skills – both written and orally in French and Dutch especially - are therefore fundamental. “You need to be able to have an open dialogue with your boss so that you can best manage your tasks and deliver quick results. If an assistant does not deliver what is expected of them, they may jeopardise the trust placed in them to do the job,” say Asia. Additional European language skills are also always a strong asset, especially in Belgium.

2.   Demonstrate effective organisational skills

As a management assistant, you need to have excellent organisational skills, remain calm under pressure and be good at multi-tasking. You will also need to perform your tasks with great attention to detail and have the ability to be flexible and prioritise effectively as urgent tasks often crop up unexpectedly. “If you are unable to complete a task immediately, send a simple email to acknowledge you received the message and let your manager know that it is your next priority,” advises Asia.

3.   Be hardworking and proactive

Employers look for people who are not only hardworking and proactive but who will also thrive in a challenging and demanding environment. Aim to become your boss’s “right arm.” Your goal is to become indispensable. Little things can also go a long way to keep your boss happy. For example, If you know your boss likes to use a particular coloured pen, make sure to include those pens when ordering office supplies. Always be thinking of ways to add to your professional skill set. Your boss will no doubt notice your enthusiasm and commend you for your efforts in the form of a raise or promotion when the time is right.

“The best administrative professionals aren't just supporting players, they continuously look for new ways to lend support or make improvements to benefit the company.”

4.   Become a computer systems expert

To be successful, you’ll need to be confident in Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint. Knowing how to run virtual meetings, create and modify excel functions and format documents expertly can give you an edge over other assistants. If your skills need refreshing or you need to acquire a new skillset, there are many free courses online you can take. Make sure to mention all skills which you are in the process of mastering on your CV.

5.   Have the right attitude

Asia: “The right attitude is vital. Employers are looking for friendly, positive people who want to go the extra mile. If a director has a meeting at ten, the management assistant needs to have provided him or her with all the information he or she needs by nine. It’s this sort of forward thinking that is required on a day-to-day basis. Management assistants also need to be flexible – if there’s work that needs to be done, they need to be prepared to stay in the office to get it done. Those interested in succeeding need to realise it’s not always a 9-5 job.”


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