Office and Admin

Software and apps admin assistants should master

Written by Kate Lopaze

Administrative assistants have a lot of tasks to handle on any given day, and strong tech skills are a must. From day-to-day essentials like Microsoft Office to helpers like productivity and organization apps, you’ll need to be up on the current software and tech trends in order to be effective in your position. And if you need to build (or refresh) these skills, almost all of the following have free online videos, courses, and usage guides to help you achieve administrative ninja-level skills.

Scheduling Software

Being an administrative assistant often involves keeping a live calendar for your boss (and maybe others as well), so this is a bare-bones essential tech skill to have. Most companies use Microsoft Outlook to sync and maintain employee calendars and meeting spaces, so this is the most important one to have under your belt—know it inside and out. But many companies are increasingly turning to free apps like Google Calendar as well.

Email Apps and Software

Microsoft Outlook is the gold standard for many companies’ email needs, so this is the core email system you should know very well. Gmail, like Google’s other office offerings, has emerged as the next in line because of its flexibility, chat features, and connection to other office-friendly Google apps. And if you want to be extra-current, recent office communication upstart is Slack combines the ease of email with real-time chat options. Many companies are using this app to supplement office email—or even replace it entirely.

Spreadsheet Software

You’ll likely need to create spreadsheets, either to track information or create and analyze reports. Microsoft Excel is—surprise!—the default spreadsheet software, and once you have those skills, they apply to Google Sheets too. Bonus spreadsheet skills that will always come in handy: pivot tables and vlookups.

Presentation Software

Whether it’s you presenting or helping to create/edit someone else’s presentations, Microsoft PowerPoint and LinkedIn’s SlideShare are the programs with which you’ll want to be familiar.

Digital Publishing and Design Software

As an administrative assistant, you may be responsible for creating, editing, or distributing content like newsletters, flyers, invitations, etc., so it’s a good idea to know your way around common design, publishing, and editing software. Adobe has the market cornered here—their Acrobat software creates and edits PDFs, while Photoshop lets you edit images. And if your job is likely to include video content, you should get to know Adobe Premiere or Apple’s iMovie.

Document Creation Software

Traditionally known as word processing software, these apps allow you to create and edit text-heavy documents. Microsoft Word is by far the most commonly used program, but Google Docs has a close facsimile.

Productivity Apps

In addition to keeping your boss organized and productive, you’ll need to keep your own stuff organized as well. Personal productivity apps like Asana (which can be used to track your own to-do list or group projects), Evernote (which lets you take notes and keep an annotated to-do list), and Dropbox (which lets you reach your files from anywhere, or share files with team members) all help to make your work life easier. And all of them can be used as tech skills on your resume.

So much of our work is digital these days. While classic administrative skills like interpersonal skills, verbal and written communication, and general organization will never go out of style, the more tech cred you can add by learning and mastering these programs will make you even more marketable.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.