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The Role of the Secretary

My country has around 51,000 secretary jobs. That number has decreased in recent years. This is partly due to the automation and digitization of work processes, as a result of which the simple secretary functions have been canceled. Another reason is that the secretary function is increasingly occurring under other names, such as management assistant, personal assistant and office manager.

More and more is required of a secretary and for well-trained secretaries this means more work than before.

This is good to know if you are considering training as a secretary or are looking for a job.

What does the job profile for a secretary look like?

As a secretary you fulfill an important function at the office. That is because you arrange a lot of things and are often seen as the first and most important point of contact for employees and external relations. You are clearly an all-rounder who tries to unburden managers and other colleagues as much as possible. That means that you can also be widely used.

What do I do as a secretary?

Which tasks you perform as secretaries, of course, depends on where you will work. Your field of work is very broad in any case. You also have contact with many different people within the company. Which colleagues you will have to deal with depends on your specific workplace.

The most important activities of a secretary are:

  • Handling incoming and outgoing communication: As a secretary you are the first point of contact and you process incoming phone calls, e-mail and mail. Because you handle incoming communication, employees and management can focus on their duties. You not only ensure that the communication ends up in the right place, if necessary you also refer people or ensure that questions are answered. Both orally and in writing, usually in Dutch but also increasingly in English.
  • Spelling: 
You manage for managers or executives of their agenda. In this way you not only prevent employees and external people from coming in unannounced, you also ensure that there is sufficient time in the agenda for various appointments and activities.
  • Schedule, prepare and take minutes of meetings and meetings: 
 You organize meetings. You create a meeting agenda, collect the topics and record meetings. After a meeting you work 
out the minutes and send them to all participants of the meeting.

  • Receiving guests: As a secretary you are often the first point of contact for guests. You always ensure that guests are well received while they are waiting for their appointment. You simultaneously inform your colleague that his or her guest is there.
  • Organizing meetings: 
 Depending on the company where you work, you also organize small meetings, such as a presentation or workshop. You arrange a location, the decoration, the invitations, the food and drink, etc.
  • Administrative work: 
This includes the preparation of e-mails and letters, the structured processing and recording of all kinds of information, etc. 

  • Archiving: 
Tidy storage of the administration is also one of your tasks. This is called archiving.

The above tasks concern the core tasks of the secretary. In smaller organizations, your duties are usually more diverse. You should think of organizing meetings, facility support, tasks in the field of human resources and financial administrative work. Within large organizations there are also secretaries with more tasks, but then it usually concerns the position of management assistant, executive secretary or office manager.

When are you suitable for the secretary position?

For the very varied job of secretary you need to know about approaches. You must be able to switch between your various activities quickly and without problems. The customer is always at number 1. That customer is not only the external customer but also the internal customer, so your managers and colleagues from other departments with whom you have frequent contact. You also ensure that you look neat and tidy, so that your boss can also put you in contact with customers.

You do a lot of work via the computer. That means that you have to type blind and according to the 10-finger system, but of course you also have knowledge of the internet and MS Office programs. For example: Word, Outlook and Excel. If you aren't so adept at this, then it's very important that you follow a specific education or computer training to learn this. Of course you need to be able to speak and write Dutch well. But your English correspondence must also be in order.

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