Secretary: Duties and Responsibilities
Compiled by Ruth Anderson
There is variation from workplace to workplace in the tasks that a secretary will be
expected to perform, but there is a range of tasks you can expect.
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
(adapted from Smith)
Secretaries may be known by a variety of other titles, like administrative assistants,
clerks, or personal assistants. These titles may reflect different types of secretarial jobs,
although all of these positions share the common theme of administrative tasks.
What Does a Secretary Do?
The duties and responsibilities will vary both between different workplaces and also at
different levels and in different departments within the same workplace. The following
are some duties commonly carried out by secretaries:
Duties and Responsibilities of a Secretary
(adapted from Smith, Khilawala, Kaminski and Kartha)
In the past, the role of the secretary was limited to taking notes, typing, storing
information, etc. However, with the changes in office technology in companies and
offices, the secretary duties have extended to things that used to be for the professional
and managerial staff.
The secretary has the responsibility to support and assist the managers as well as the
directors of the company with their work. In addition to having clerical skills (like
typing and scheduling and filing), a secretary is a skilled manager of time and people. A
secretary keeps an office running smoothly. Secretaries have a wide range of duties, and,
as a general rule, they are extremely efficient and well organized.
Basic duties of a secretary:
Keep a record of appointments - See to it that each one is conducted on time.
Manage proper filing systems - both for important paper documents as well as
for the electronic ones.
Schedule meetings - This includes informing the respective members about the
meeting and taking their confirmations.
Prepare meeting agendas - A meeting without an agenda is a disaster. The
agenda needs to be created on the basis of the issues that need to be discussed.
Prepare minutes of the meeting - This includes:
o During the meeting, taking detailed notes of the proceedings.
o Writing up the minutes of the meeting.
o After the meeting, filing the minute records for further reference.
o Conveying decisions of the meeting to other employees.
Take care of correspondence, as directed - The secretary needs to make sure
that required mail is sent out.
Keep in touch with clients or key customers, as expected - It is one of the
duties of the secretary to keep in touch with key clients on a regular basis.
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Operate office equipment - like phones, fax machines, and copiers. A
secretary is expected to have experience with computers and other electronics.
May even be experienced enough to do minor repairs.
Managing the phones - Answers phones and routes calls to the right people.
Some secretaries also:
Handle supply ordering for an office.
Disseminate information using telephone, mail services, Web sites, and e-mail.
Handle travel and guest arrangements.
Get the monthly and annual report and accounts published.
Check on documents and recordings of company share transfers.
Communicate with the shareholders of the company.
o Send reports and notification about the company's policies, meetings, etc.
o Answer their questions on shares as well as transfer of shares.
Supervise other secretaries in the company.
Train the new staff.
o personnel paperwork
If the secretary is the boss’s primary assistant:
Will probably type and compose part of the supervisor’s correspondence.
Take many of his or her calls.
Keep his or her appointments up to date.
A good secretary:
Anticipates the needs of office staff.
Solves problems quickly.
Has discernment. Knows, for instance, which faxes are important and which are
trash; what snail mail can be safely discarded; which e-mails must be forwarded
to the boss, and which he or she can deal with
Has excellent people skills
o Communicates with staff members as well as clients.
o Handles difficult situations without any assistance.
Is secure in handling:
o confidential material
o high-strung executives
o the chaos that is often present in a busy office
The secretary that organizations are seeking in today's times should not only have
clerical and administrative skills, but should also possess knowledge about corporate
laws, corporate governance, security laws and capital markets.
Secretaries are often very important people in the offices that they work in, although
they may not command the salary and respect from outsiders that higher ranking people.
Many people do not realize how valuable the secretary is until she or he leaves the job.
Secretary Duties and Responsibilities 2 of 4
Qualifications and Skills Required
(adapted from Kartha)
Nowadays, employers prefer candidates who at least have a college degree on hand, and
sometimes, those who have specialized in the field or industry for which they have
As the secretary has to communicate with different people as well as organizations, one
of the most important skills that he/she should possess is good business
Other skills that he/she requires are efficiency, organization and promptness. Apart from
the regular administrative and clerical skills, they should also know about advanced
software applications. Read up on organizational skills at work.
One thing you must remember is that as the job of the secretary contains various
responsibilities, you have to be on your toes to complete your work on time.
What are the Skills Required to Perform the Duties of a Secretary?
(adapted from Khilawala)
There are skill sets that a person needs to have to make a good secretary.
Typing - It is very important to be able to type, as a secretary does have to write
documents and correspondence
Workplace Communication skills - A secretary has to perform immense
amounts of communication. A secretary needs to be above average when it
comes to communication.
Self Grooming - More often than not, the secretary has to be the face in front of
the task. As such a secretary should be able to look good (not sexy or
provocative, just good) at all times.
Computer Skills - Like any other profession today, computer skills are required
in order to perform the duties of a secretary in an organization. Be it Word,
Excel, PowerPoint, the Internet or whatever. A secretary should know enough to
help her upgrade her skills easily when needed.
Diplomacy - This is vital for a secretary. A secretary is often stuck in a sticky
opinion-based situation; this is where the diplomacy will help out.
These skills will help a secretary in performing a task with greater ease. Let's not forget,
learning is always possible, but upgrading is much easier.
Getting pulled into the corporate rut and being taken for granted are problems that most
secretaries face. Stand your ground and guard your priorities fiercely. Sincerity
and ethics are the best ways to perform well at the duties of a secretary.
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From the Mouths of Secretaries
(excepted from The Princeton Review)
One secretary her view of keeping busy after accomplishing a day's assignments well
before deadline: "You can bury your nose in a magazine, or you can find something
constructive to do. Good secretaries are self-starters."
Few professions call for such careful execution of so many specialized tasks. Such
professionalism combined with the almost constant changes in business technology has
led secretaries to turn to one another for support, training, and solidarity. "You often
don't know exactly what's expected of you," remarked one secretary. "It's easier if there
are other secretaries there to help you clarify things, especially in a place like a law
Because so much of the job depends on organization, secretaries' skills are really tested
when they work for particularly disorganized bosses. "Your main task is making sure
everything goes smoothly, anticipating as well as accomplishing particular tasks."
Secretaries who work in specialized fields, such as law and accounting, have a working
knowledge of that field. Executive secretaries often initiate and execute independent
projects. A college education is a valuable asset. In a global economy, being bilingual or
even trilingual is often a plus.
And secretaries are still expected to handle their employers' moods and foibles in the
course of everyday business. The best advice we heard: "Be prepared for anything."
Kaminsky, A. “What is an Administrative Assistant?”, 28 April 2010. [http://www.wisegeek.com/what-
is-an-administrative-assistant.htm] (6 May 2010).
Kartha, Deepa. “Secretary Duties: Responsibilities of a Secretary”, 2000-2009, 2010.
[http://www.buzzle.com/articles/secretary-duties-responsibilities-of-a-secretary.html] (6 May 2010).
Khilawala, Rashida. “Duties of a Secretary”, 2000-2009, 2010. [http://www.buzzle.com/articles/duties-of-
a-secretary.html] (6 May 2010).
Smith, S.E. “What Does a Secretary Do?”, 27 April 2010 [http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-a-
secretary-do.htm] (6 May 2010).
The Princeton Review. “A Day in the Life of a Secretary”
[http://www.princetonreview.com/Careers.aspx?cid=141] (6 May 2010).
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