Administrative experience: definition and examples
Updated 19 April 2023
For a new role in almost any industry, experience in administration could be one requirement or added beneficial skill. Administrative jobs vary in their duties, making it unclear what counts towards this type of experience. It might help you understand what employers consider administration and how it could apply in various sectors and positions. In this article, we define administrative experience and list some jobs which can equip you with administrative skills.
What is administrative experience?
Administrative experience refers to a varied set of tasks associated with clerical duties. It mainly involves using soft skills, including communication and organisation and covers many industries even without specialist knowledge of those sectors. Firms of all kinds rely upon administrative skills to facilitate the smooth operation of their organisation, meaning you may find many jobs which ask for this type of experience from their candidates. Knowing which duties count towards your clerical experience could help you elaborate on your administrative skills and impress employers.
What are some administrative duties?
There're many broad duties which could count as examples of or an opportunity to develop your experience with administrative matters. Knowing these responsibilities can help you discuss them on your CV or during an interview, making you feel confident in demonstrating your clerical knowledge. Even if you have no prior administrative roles, your previous positions may involve many of the same tasks or skills. The duties that count towards your growing administration experience might include:
One of the primary duties of many administrative positions is to organise and oversee a schedule, typically that of your manager or a team. This could even encompass multiple managers or employees, so coordinating the timetables suitably is a frequent duty for administrative jobs. Even outside these positions, scheduling might be a significant task, such as taking appointments, managing bookings and organising deliveries. This involves time management and a strong understanding of your colleagues, including their usual work style, how much time the tasks they have are going to take to complete and other factors.
Though most of an administrative role's duties involve soft skills, they often use technology to facilitate many of their responsibilities. Proficiency in technology and software programmes count towards your experience in administration. For these roles, employers could expect you to compile databases and calendars using different tools, such as word processors. Familiarity with office equipment is especially useful, including fax machines, printers and laminators. If you've used technology such as processors and this equipment, either in a previous role or even in your spare time, expand upon it in your job application.
Administration and organisation are concepts that relate closely, with administrative jobs typically relying upon an employee's organisational skills more than any other. This goes beyond scheduling meetings and could involve many other specific duties, such as compiling calendars, booking rooms for events or meetings and assembling a team. Many roles, both inside and outside an office setting, involve organisation skills which determine their success at work. Success at previous organisational duties shows you could complete tasks within a reasonable timeframe, prioritising your responsibilities effectively to fulfil deadlines and ensuring everything under your jurisdiction can run smoothly.
Employees in administrative jobs often have the task of integrating new hires into the company, also known as onboarding. The process includes setting up their passwords, providing them with equipment and assisting them in acclimation to a new workplace. This responsibility differs from training, which their managers are likely to handle, and instead helps the new hire with their integration into the organisation. This allows their manager to concentrate on delivering training and other key duties. The human resources department is typically responsible for onboarding new employees, so this experience can come from HR roles.
Administrative positions heavily involve communication, such as writing emails or answering the phone to talk with clients and other departments. This includes delivering this correspondence to any relevant party, such as their manager or another employee. These responsibilities cross over with others frequently, as communication skills are necessary to explain the organisation's structure to new employees or schedule meetings. Most jobs offer a chance to develop and improve your communication skills, especially those that include teamwork, allowing you to focus on these duties and approach an administrative position with confidence.
Related: What are communication skills?
Roles that involve administration
Many jobs can help you further develop your administrative experience, and not every relevant position is necessarily administration-focused. You can improve upon your administration skills in a variety of settings, and some of your most frequent duties could come under this definition. Your previous positions, even those outside of an office setting entirely, almost always involve skills that companies often prioritise when they look for a new administrative assistant, amongst other roles. Jobs which involve and aid the development of key administrative skills could include:
Assistant or secretary: Employees working in secretarial or assistant positions could easily develop a range of administrative skills, which is one of the most popular administrative positions. This role involves organising files, delivering customer service, answering phones and virtually every administrative duty, which could help to improve your experience in this sector.
Small business manager: People who establish a small business usually begin by taking care of every administrative matter until they recruit more staff, helping them to gain experience in clerical tasks. This could include managing their organisation's phone line, scheduling deliveries and compiling documents about the company's expenses which could easily help develop their proficiency in administrative duties.
Public relations specialist: Those working in PR can be natural communicators, but this role allows them to develop this even further and potentially manage or coordinate entire administrative teams. A strong level of communication offers confidence in administrative jobs, and some organisations might decide to hire someone with this experience as their next chief people officer or business manager.
Human resources Advisor: If you have an HR position, you use communication skills in your day-to-day responsibilities and could also oversee onboarding new hires and familiarising them with the office environment. Human resources roles also include frequent problem-solving, which is beneficial for administrative positions, and leadership skills, which some management roles require.
Financial clerk: Companies frequently rely upon financial clerks to maintain the organisation's accounts, which includes bookkeeping and regularly generating clear financial records for executives. Depending on the industry and the job, this role might also involve speaking with customers, but these jobs mainly involve organising the firm's finances and communicating these matters to managers.
How to highlight your experience
There're several ways you can emphasise your experience to improve your chances of success throughout your application. Experience in administration is a core component of your CV and forms the bulk of discussion during your interview. Here is how you can highlight your previous administration experience:
1. Include them in your CV and cover letter
When editing your CV, check it against the job description before you apply, as this shows the type of experience that the organisation wants to prioritise in their search. If the description emphasises a certain skill, note down examples of you applying this skill in the experience section of your application. This could be as a bullet-point list after each of your previous positions, stating ways you used your skills to show that you have the practical experience for an administrative role.
2. Discuss them in your interview
The hiring manager may ask extensively about your experience and how you use it in specific scenarios to fix problems and approach common administrative tasks. Experience is how you prove your skills, so skills-based questions are often about your previous roles and how you performed certain tasks within these positions. Use the STAR interview technique to provide a logical structure for experience questions. This involves giving an example of a situation, the task you had to complete, the actions you took to resolve this task and the positive result.
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