The Modern Secretary: traditional skills in a new world

A Secretary carries out the essential administrative functions that enable other qualified professionals to stay focussed on their practice. It’s a role that has evolved extremely rapidly through the last few decades as technology continues to encroach into their duties. However, the accuracy, diligence and intelligence of the Secretary still shines through and they are utilised by lawyers, doctors, surveyors, architects, and other professions across the world. Being at the centre of many, if not all (!), of an organisation’s processes, a Secretary’s knowledge both technical and practical can make the difference in the efficiency of a company.
Depending on firm, job sector and job responsibilities, salaries can range between £25,000 and £45,000 in the London marketplace.

Secretarial job responsibilities:

  • handling correspondence – answering calls, taking messages
  • managing diaries and (re)arranging appointments.
  • typing documents – both audio and written.
  • preparing and collating reports.
  • filing and maintaining administration systems.
  • organising and servicing meetings (producing agendas and taking minutes)
  • managing other databases.
  • liaising with relevant organisations and clients
  • coordinating mail-shots and similar publicity tasks
  • logging or processing invoices or expenses
  • if more senior, recruiting, training and supervising junior staff.

Secretarial skills & qualifications

A secretary is normally the key support inside a firm or practice.  A secretary ensures everyone and everything is in the right place at the right time.  Therefore they must be highly organised and able to handle multiple tasks at any one time.  They must combine being a super-admin, completer-finisher with the communication and interpersonal skills to liaise with everyone, at every level, in an organisation.  Written and verbal command of language is essential in what is a heavily document and process based role.

It is not a requirement to hold specific qualifications in order to be a secretary but basic GCSEs in English and Maths are normally a given.  However, there are various diplomas on offer in typing, shorthand, audio typing, IT and business administration in order to hone an individual’s skills.

Many secretaries will choose to specialise in a specific sector, where additional, technical knowledge can add to their value in a role.  Therefore, a legal secretary may follow the CILEX qualification path, a medical secretary may wish to explore a medical secretary diploma amongst others.

It is also entirely possible for a secretary’s role to be a stepping stone into a professionally qualified career with many legal secretaries becoming paralegals and IFA’s secretaries becoming paraplanners, for instance.

If you’re looking for Personal Assistant, Executive Assistant, Private PA, Virtual Assistant or other Office Staff jobs please contact one of our recruitment consultants on 020 7468 0400 or email us

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