On the Job
Executive secretaries assist managers and direct office activities.
In the 1950s, a woman named Bette Nesmith Graham was working as an executive secretary. She became frustrated with typing errors and thought to herself, if painters can paint over their mistakes, why can't secretaries? She made a homemade mix of paint that matched the office stationery and soon the idea took off. This was how Liquid Paper was born.Nowadays, executive secretaries use computers instead of typewriters. With the help of computers, they perform tasks that were once done by managers. For example, they use computer software to manage data. They use spreadsheet programs to arrange and compute numbers. They use database software to organize data and create tables. Executive secretaries also use computers to produce finished documents, such as reports.
Managers have now taken on some duties once given to executive secretaries. For example, managers often do their own word processing and make their own calls to clients. As a result, secretaries spend less time on typing and dictation. Therefore, they often work as part of a team and assist more than one manager in an office.
Executive secretaries have other complex duties. They may conduct research on the Internet. They often manage projects and prepare reports. For example, they might study management methods and suggest ways to improve workflow or save money. They plan conferences and arrange conference calls. In addition, they may oversee office staff and services.
Executive secretaries also perform clerical tasks. They schedule meetings and read and respond to letters and memos. They create and maintain office files, both on paper and on a computer. They operate office equipment, such as photocopiers. In addition, they may train office staff in these tasks.
In some offices executive secretaries are called administrative assistants.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Manage and coordinate the schedules of executives.
- Prepare office documents, such as invoices, reports, or financial statements using computers.
- Screen incoming mail, calls, and visitors.
- Perform general office duties, such as filing, supply orders, and bookkeeping.
- Schedule and plan meetings. Create agendas and take notes during meetings.
- Research and gather data for executives to use.
- Coordinate and direct office staff and services for the executive.
- Meet with individuals or groups on behalf of executive.
- Operate office equipment, such as fax machines and complex phone systems.
- Train other staff in office policies and procedures. May also provide training in technology, such as computer software programs.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Perform administrative tasks.
- Use computers.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Document and record information.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Work with the public.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Process information.
- Assist and care for others.
- Schedule work and activities.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Think creatively.
- Coordinate the work and activities of others.
- Develop and build teams.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a high level of social contact. They work closely with executives and other office staff.
- Are responsible for the work outcomes of the people they supervise.
- Are sometimes placed in conflict situations in which others may become rude or unpleasant.
- Communicate with people daily by telephone, e-mail, and in person.
- Write letters and memos daily.
- Work as part of a team.
- Always work indoors.
- Are sometimes exposed to sounds and noise levels that are distracting and uncomfortable.
- Work somewhat close to other people, such as when sharing office space.
- Must be very exact in their work. Errors could cost the company money.
- Repeat the same physical activities, such as entering data into a computer.
- Meet strict weekly deadlines weekly.
- Rarely consult a supervisor before setting tasks and goals.
- Often make decisions that affect the image of their employer.
- Can make most decisions without talking to a supervisor.
- Usually work a standard 40-hour week.
- May work evenings or weekends to meet deadlines.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Sit for long periods of time.
- Repeat the same movements over and over, such as when typing.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.