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What are Secretarial Services?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 16, 2024
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In every organization, from small offices to large multinational companies, there is one group of people that can be seen as a vital — those that provide secretarial services. They are often described as the backbone of a company, but they are usually at the front line of the day to day business tasks ensuring the smooth running of the workplace. People who provide these services can take on a number of demanding roles.

The outdated notion of a secretary who takes notes from the employer and does some typing is rare in today's demanding business world. More than likely, the person performing these tasks will have a business degree and will see the secretarial role as a stepping stone in their career to other jobs. Many college students supplement their income working in this type of environment, and they often find it to be an advantage to have these skills listed on their resumes.

The ability to multi-task and be multi-skilled is a job specification required when applying for a secretarial position. The role can involve anything from working as a busy receptionist, answering telephone calls, reading and answering company emails, copy typing, and even helping balance companies accounts. Computer skills are nearly always essential to the role, as most company's records are kept in databases; data entry is also included in these services.

There are many ways of finding a job in this sector. As well as applying for positions in the normal route, such as through newspaper advertisements, there are job agencies and temporary employment agencies dedicated specifically to providing secretarial services. Applicants may have to take a few tests, such as speed typing and computer skills, but once registered, there is a huge demand for people with good secretarial skills.

Many people use their skills as a way of getting their foot in the door of companies they would like to work for. They can then work their way up the ladder using the valuable experience that they gained with the position. It would not be the first time someone has started off in the typing pool only to end up managing the company.

With the advent of the Internet and telecommuting, some secretarial services can be provided from home. Many companies farm out data entry, copy typing, computer jobs, and clerical tasks to individuals who have the relevant skills. It can be an excellent way for individuals to earn extra income. This is a very popular job for stay at home parents or part time workers as it affords flexibility, extra cash, and a way to keep their skills up to date before returning to the workplace, if they so choose.

People who don't think they have any secretarial services skills just need to think of how many times in the past they have typed up letters on their home computer or worked out their home finances on spreadsheets. These types of skills can be more in demand than most people think.

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Discussion Comments

By SarahSon — On Oct 18, 2012

When I was laid off from my job, one of the first places I went to start looking for a new job was some of the temp agencies. I knew from experience that many of these jobs can turn into full time, permanent jobs so felt like this was a good place to start.

I had used a service like this years ago, and was impressed with how much they have changed through the years. Many of them offer training if you are lacking in specific computer skills and I found this very valuable.

I wanted to be as marketable as I could be, so I was able to brush up on some of the computer skills that I had not used very often. I think it is important to have a wide skill set and be able to multi-task to be effective working in the secretarial services field.

I was fortunate to begin working for a company within a few weeks. When that job was over, I began working doing secretarial work for another company, and now work for them full time.

By golf07 — On Oct 18, 2012

I do not have a college degree, but my entire work career as been working in some type of secretarial services capacity. I started out working as a receptionist for a company right out of high school.

Twenty years later I am working as an executive secretary for a large company and make more than many people who have a college degree. I do think it is important to have a college degree, but my years of experience have paid off for me. I feel that I have gained valuable experience, have a nice paying job, and gained skills that will help me get another job if something were to happen where I am at.

By andee — On Oct 17, 2012

@clippers-- An opposite situation happened where I was employed as a secretary. Instead of outsourcing some of their secretarial services, my company added on more work load. They let the receptionist go, and gave the phone duties to me in addition to the work I was already doing.

While I am thankful to have a job when so many people don't, this does add on a lot of stress. Most companies would not be able to function very smoothly without adequate and capable secretarial services, yet we are often some of the lowest paid people in the company.

By bagley79 — On Oct 16, 2012

@whiteplane-- I have a friend who works as a virtual assistant and does this from home. This job gives her the opportunity to work from home and not have to pay for daycare for her kids. Yes, it does get pretty hectic but she has the option to work when they are sleeping and in the evening when her husband is home.

Her work background before having her kids involved secretarial work, so she had the experience needed. Because she doesn't have to pay money out for child care, she is able to get by working less than 40 hours a week.

I know these types of jobs are becoming more common and are beneficial for both the company and the worker. If someone is looking for a job with benefits and insurance, this probably wouldn't work, but is perfect if you just need some extra income coming in.

By whiteplane — On Oct 15, 2012

One money making idea for stay at home moms is to offer home based secretarial services. In today's digital world, it is easier than ever to provide quality secretarial services without being on site.

If you approach smaller businesses that may not have the space or budget to hire a secretary at their location you will probably have better luck.

By clippers — On Oct 14, 2012
@BAU79 - I know about this all too well. I had been an administrative assistant for an executive at a mid-sized company for almost 20 ears. Then the recession hit and they started making cuts left and right and they decided to outsource almost all of their secretarial services. I was out of the job with a measly severance package, despite my years of faithful service.

People think of secretaries as dumb and dispensable. But they are often the heart of the office or the screws that are keeping the machine together. I haven't been back to my old company since being laid off, but I sure it is a lot more chaotic than it used to be.

By BAU79 — On Oct 14, 2012

I know that more and more companies are outsourcing their secretarial services. They hire people in other places to take calls, schedule appointments and handle some of the clerical duties that secretaries used to handle.

This is probably good for the businesses but bad for the secretaries of the world. The outsourced employees that they hire don't make nearly as much money or have the same job security. They are doing work that does not have the value that it used to.

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