Careers Service Occupations

Administration

Administration

About

Advancements in technology have decreased the need for many routine administration tasks. Professionals in this sector are now able to take on roles in research, management and policy.

Keeping up to date with advances in IT is important in gaining employment in this sector (source: Skills CFA, Business & Administration Labour Market Report 2012).

Careers advice

  • Prospects - public services and administration
  • AllAboutCareers - administration
  • the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) provides careers information 
  • Skills CFA develops UK standards, qualifications and apprenticeship frameworks for the sector

Industry news

You'll find news about the sector in Executive PA MagazineGovernance + Compliance MagazineArts Professional and Dedicated.

Professional bodies

These represent the interests of those working in the sector. They provide services such as training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. They also provide development for people already working in the sector. 

Follow professional associations on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

General

The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM) and The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) cover the entire sector.

Sector specific

Making contacts

Gain an insight into roles, and work experience, through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and other events give insight and the opportunity to make useful contacts.

For events listings see Careers Service events or External Events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in:

Or see our other occupational pages for more options

Roles & Skills

Administration and secretarial roles are in all areas of business and can vary in nature.

Entry requirements can vary, depending on the employer and sector. There is an increasing need to be IT literate in all roles.

Previous experience can be more valuable than qualifications, but for some sectors, such as law and healthcare, you may need specific training.

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties and entry requirements.

Secretary/administrator

Personal assistant

Office manager

Arts administrator

Company/Chartered secretary

Education administrator

Legal secretary

Medical secretary

Farm secretary

Sports administrator

Skills employers look for

Employers look for diverse skills, including:

  • IT skills
  • excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • strong organisational skills and attention to detail
  • reliability, honesty and respect for confidentiality
  • the ability to plan and prioritise your workload and meet deadlines
  • flexibility and the ability to work under pressure

Gaining Experience

Getting into administration and secretarial work is competitive. Work experience is essential in developing skills and demonstrating your commitment to recruiters.

Finding work experience

Advertised opportunities

Office-based part-time jobs are advertised on Vacancies Online. You can also look at finding a part-time job for more opportunities.

There are several other places you can find advertised opportunities, including:

  • JobsOC - campus jobs agency that offers university work assignments to current students
  • recruitment agencies - a good source of temporary, part-time administrative work

See also Internships, placements & shadowing for additional sources of work experience.

Speculative approach

Find companies that interest you and get in touch with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

How to find companies 

Search for local companies offering work experience in the North East Graduate Directory

It's also useful to:

  • research employers, including company profiles and lists of business directories and databases
  • use social media to find and connect with employers, particularly through LinkedIn
  • start networking to build contacts. Attend events, comment on blogs, follow professionals on Twitter and join a professional body, such as ICSA.

Other ways to gain experience

Work experience is valuable. If you're struggling to find any, you could try these alternative ideas:

  • become active in student societies, undertaking secretarial duties
  • think about voluntary work. Charities and voluntary organisations often need administrative support and expertise. See Volunteering for help with finding opportunities

Finding Jobs

Administration and secretarial work is available in all employment sectors and the scope of roles varies.

Use vacancy sources related to the sector or geographical location you want to work in. 

Smaller companies don’t always advertise jobs, so you may need to speculatively contact them. Do this early, as it can take time and be competitive.

Professional bodies also advertise graduate positions. See About for a list of organisations.

Use the following resources to find advertised vacancies and research employers for speculative applications.

Vacancy sites

Careers Service

General

Higher education

Arts

Specialist recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies often advertise graduate and entry-level positions. They also have a wealth of industry knowledge.

See Agency Central for a list of specialist recruitment agencies for the administrative sector.

Finding companies

Not all jobs are advertised. You could also approach companies or find work through networking and making contacts.

Find companies that interest you and get in touch, always to a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. Show your enthusiasm for their company and highlighting any relevant skills. 

Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

The following resources can help you find companies to approach: