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).
- 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
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.
The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM) and The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) cover the entire sector.
- Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators (IAgSA)
- British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators (BSMSA)
- Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists (AMSPAR)
- Association of University Administrators (AUA)
- Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA)
Gain an insight into roles, and work experience, through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:
- Graduate Connections – graduates who are happy to give you advice about the kind of work they do
- social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, which is useful for contacts, following employers and finding opportunities
- Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn – find out what they did after graduation and how they got there
Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and other events give insight and the opportunity to make useful contacts.
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.
- National Careers Service - school secretary
- National Careers Service - school business manager
- Health Careers
- National Careers Service
- iCould: Careers advice on becoming a medical secretary (video)
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
Getting into administration and secretarial work is competitive. Work experience is essential in developing skills and demonstrating your commitment to recruiters.
Finding work experience
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.
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:
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.
- Guardian Jobs - current secretarial vacancies
- LG Jobs - administrative/clerical in the public sector
- Arts Council England
- Creative Scotland
- Arts Council of Wales: Arts directory – jobs and opportunities
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.
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:
- North East Graduate Directory– search for graduate employers offering relevant work experience
- Making contacts - advice on how to find and approach people for help with your career
- Graduate Connections - contact graduates for advice on getting into the sector
- LinkedIn Find Alumni tool - see where Newcastle graduates are working for inspiration
- Researching employers - source and research companies