Previously secretarial duties focused on typing, shorthand and filing but secretaries today are expected to be far more skilled, qualified and self-sufficient. This is particularly true of team secretaries who have more people's needs to juggle.
The range of tasks you'll have to manage will often be more extensive than those of a general secretary. Want to know more?
So, what will I actually be doing?
As a team secretary you'll be looking after an entire group of people rather than one or two executive staff.
You might find that as an integral part of the team the lines get a bit blurred between your role as secretary and as a part of the team. This means you will probably get more involved in day-to-day team activities, including research for projects, as well as your usual administrative duties.
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The nitty gritty
On paper, you'll probably work a 40 hour week, pretty much like any other type of office administrator.
The reality might be different and depending on current the team pressures you might have to be flexible about working extended hours when there are deadlines to meet.
Temporary, contract and part-time work are all quite common, and flexi-hours are also offered by certain companies.
You'll find team secretaries in a variety of working environments, across most sectors. You could work for legal and financial institutions, utilities companies, insurance firms and virtually any other type of office in Britain.
You'll start off as a junior secretary and work your way up the ranks to senior secretary, looking after more senior or larger teams. As you get more senior you'll probably find you specialise in an industry, say legal or insurance.
If you enjoy the team-playing element of the role there are good chances that your involvement in the team could equip you for a move into the team in a more direct business capacity.
Money, money, money
Contract and temporary workers are generally paid an hourly wage (anywhere between £10 and £16 per hour), while highly skilled, well-qualified permanent employees could earn as much as £35,000 per annum.
Investment and legal companies tend to offer the most competitive salary and benefit packages, but usually hire only the most qualified candidates for these top positions.
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The good points...
Salaries are generally good and you can expect your experience and knowledge to have a direct impact on your pay packet.
...and the bad
Because it's an office based job there’s little requirement to travel, other than to run the odd local errand.
Is there study involved?
It's not essential to have a degree or diploma but if you have these qualifications you'll certainly be more attractive to employers. You should have maths and English GCSEs at a minimum to get started.
Candidates are often picked on the strength of their CV or via a recruitment agency so it's important to showcase your strengths to be in with a chance of getting the best jobs.
You can make your CV stand out by taking professional secretarial qualifications with organisations including City & Guilds, OCR, Pitman and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. These courses will teach you shorthand and advanced word processing skills and a range of other vital secretarial skills.
Your CV won't only be judged on your qualifications. Employers will be keen to know if you're a good fit with the team too. They will look for previous experience (temping and casual work whilst you were studying will count) to get a measure for your personality, to see that you are trustworthy, enthusiastic and can show initiative.
Further training is important to your career progression so you should work towards a secretarial qualification, either through work-based training or day-release at a local college. Courses you'll find most helpful include:
- NVQ in Business Administration
- Education development International Diploma in Business Administration
- OCR Certificates in Administration
- OCR Higher Level Diploma in Administrative and Secretarial Procedures
- City & Guilds secretarial courses
As a team secretary you'll need good communications and time management skills so it's worth discussing with your employer the opportunity to go on any 'soft' skills training courses that will help develop and improve your experience in these areas.
If you're thinking of becoming an executive secretary in the future it might be worth taking some more prestigious qualifications, such as the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) or Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). CIPD qualifications are highly recognised by employers across the world.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
It can be demanding to work for so many people, but with the right skills you'll find being an important part of the team rewarding, and interesting too as no two days will ever be the same.
To make a good team secretary you'll need to brush up on the following skills:
- Good IT knowledge - you should be able to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc
- The ability to type at least 50 words per minute
- The ability to stay calm under pressure
- Excellent organisational skills
- The ability to prioritise and be flexibl
- Good communications skills and team working skills
- Your ability to work under pressure
- Manage any team conflicts
- An enthusiastic and confident nature