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Transferable Skills for Admins

Admins are the unsung heroes of an organization. They schedule meetings, field phone calls, interface with clients and partners, direct visitors, and get important people where they need to be on time. Without admins, many people would be lost. Being in a position with so much face-time with important people forces admins to prioritize, be extremely organized, and have great attention to detail一all highly coveted characteristics, even outside of the admin role.

In fact, many admins decide to put their skills to use elsewhere, transitioning into Human Resources, Operations, Accounting, Marketing, or Corporate Communications positions after a few years on the job. The most successful moves occur when admins have honed several key skills and highlight those throughout the job application process. Below, we outline the top transferable skills for admins to sharpen before they spread their wings.

What are some of the best qualities in an admin?

Despite having a lot on their plate, the best admins get things over the finish line no matter what. To do that consistently, they need organizational skills. Admins need to meet deadlines, prioritize the most critical work, and manage their time well. Not only that, they must learn to help their bosses do the same. To accomplish this, admins learn to multitask and develop a strong attention to detail, ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks.

Admins also need great listening and communication skills. As mentioned earlier, admins get exposure to many internal and external people, so they need to adopt a friendly, professional tone while writing and speaking. Typically, admins are the front line of communication for a company, meaning they need to represent the brand well. Listening is essential, too. Admins are often taking notes for their boss and need to pay close attention to make sure they convey the most salient points later on. 

In addition, admins must be able to problem-solve. We all know that no matter how much you plan, not everything will work out the way you anticipate. In these cases, admins must stay calm and determine the next best course of action. Fantastic admins can also learn on the fly, picking up skills like making presentations in PowerPoint or typing up newsletters, especially in situations when their boss or other staff are tied up.

Why are admin roles good for new grads?

New grads don’t necessarily have a ton of experience in the workforce. While they may have babysat, waited tables, or mowed lawns in the past, those jobs aren’t the same as working in a professional setting. But not having a wealth of expertise makes new grads perfect candidates for the admin role. If they are quick learners, they will soak up new challenges like a sponge, refining transferable skills as they go.

If you are a new grad looking for work, consider applying for an admin role. You’ll gain the right professional skills to beef up your resume for future positions. As you write your cover letter, look back at your summer jobs and try to pull out specific examples that demonstrate your ability to multitask, keep several people on track, learn new things, and communicate well.

Roles admins typically pursue later in their career

Nearly all corporate opportunities list admins’ transferable skills in their job descriptions. There is virtually no role that doesn’t appreciate an organized, friendly, good listener. 

HR positions require excellent communication skills一after all, they are setting the tone for the whole company’s culture一and being organized is much appreciated during the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding cycle. Marketing and Corporate Communications are also good homes for admins for similar reasons. Being able to communicate in a way that reflects the company’s mission and values is vital for both roles, and attention to detail is paramount. These departments often manage a lot of work, so admins will be able to put their multitasking and problem-solving skills to use as well.

Advice for breaking out of the admin role

Admins are sometimes in the tough position of being so crucial to an organization that it’s difficult to leave. But fear not, you can break out of the admin role, and many do. The first step is to list out the transferable skills you’ve gained in your current role: organization, problem-solving, communication, and attention to detail. Then, think of concrete examples of how you’ve used those skills in practice. Maybe you managed a complex process such as expense reporting, were in charge of multiple executives’ calendars, or helped onboard new employees.

Once you have that list, start crafting your resume and cover letter. In both, be sure to emphasize the transferable skills that match the new position you’re looking to fill. Read job descriptions carefully一you’ll be surprised at how much you already know and do daily. Besides getting these materials ready, show that you’re proactive. Use your conversational skills to speak to other people in your company who are currently in a role you’d like to be in one day. Ask if you could shadow them or for advice on how to apply to work in their department. Being proactive can do wonders for making your transferable skills come to life in a new role.

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