6 tips to help you hire great admin staff

By Kevin Jarvis March 24, 2017 at 1:00pm

Despite increasing digitisation of process-driven responsibilities and a slight downturn in jobs, talented admin staff will continue to be in demand as companies are now increasing headcount after having downsized in 2014.

It remains important that hiring managers need to be ready to move quickly to attract quality candidates.

However, neither the hiring process nor recruitment choices should be rushed. Finding top staff for admin jobs requires being both knowledgeable and prepared for a number of factors. Knowing and describing the specific skills, attributes and experience that your company requires today – and in the future, will ensure you are attracting people who genuinely fit your business needs.

So with that being said, here are six key tips that could help you recruit a talented admin team this year.

1. Know the trends

A good place to start is knowing what are the hiring trends. In spite of the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showing a decrease of 3% for administration and support services jobs since November 2016, administrative staff continue to be in demand.

"Despite the slight decline in administration jobs since late last year, the figures released by the ABS still point to a steady demand for administrative professionals, albeit at a slower pace than last quarter," says David Jones, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half Asia-Pacific.

2. Cast your net wide

The wider you cast your net, the greater the likelihood of securing a candidate who is an ideal fit for the role, or even better, who exceeds your expectations.

Administration recruitment experts are a great avenue to find the right admin staff to match your business needs. Recruitment consultants know how to attract the best talent as they have extensive networks, and they work with administration professionals on a daily basis. 

A skilled recruiter can make sure these job seekers are aware of your opening and help evaluate their qualifications to find the best fit for your vacancy. A recruiter can also review your job description and tweak it, if necessary, so it appeals to a wider range of potential applicants. 

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Ask your staff and professional contacts if they know anyone appropriate for the position. Your employees and friends aren’t likely to go out on a limb for people who would make lousy employees, so this can be a great source of leads.

3. Pay attention to detail

The little things can make a big difference when assessing administration staff. A candidate’s phone manner, the presentation of their resume and personal communication skills can shed some light on how well they will contribute to your company. Are candidates polite on the phone and in person? How are their verbal and written communication skills when interacting with you? How do they treat others in your company while at the interview? The answers offer helpful insights into what someone may be like on the job.

The same can be said about your talent search. The best recruiting tips aren’t going to help you if the job ad doesn’t actually describe the type of candidate you’re looking for. Make sure you’re using an updated, accurate job description that reflects what’s most important for success in the open position today. It may or may not be a carbon copy of the attributes of the last person in the job, so reassess carefully. Too often, hiring managers dust off the previous job description and use it as is, without considering how the role may have changed since it was last filled.

4. Make the interview count

Skip the clichéd interview questions like, “where do you see yourself in five years?” Instead, try posing some real life scenarios and competency based interview questions to see how candidates rise to the occasion. For instance, ask them what they would do if a client phones to complain that your firm’s sales rep hasn’t turned up for an appointment. A candidate’s response can speak volumes about their maturity and professionalism.

Also consider what your administrative assistant thinks of a potential hire. Eighty-eight percent of managers interviewed for the Office of the Future project said their assistant’s opinion about job candidates is important. 

5. Look for the ‘X’ factor in admin staff

The top administration talent goes above and beyond, and has something more to give your firm than simply meeting the job description. A candidate who has used their initiative to complete additional training, or acquire further qualifications, or who has maintained memberships to professional organisations could be the star performer you have been looking for.

One of the most valuable recruiting tips is to note if an administrative candidate has gone above and beyond in their career. That, of course, includes their performance in previous jobs. But also consider things they’ve done outside the workplace. The job candidate may have pursued additional training, maintained membership in a professional association or earned an administrative certification. You are looking for steps that suggest the person is a true go-getter.

6. Check references

When contacting referees and past employers, be honest in your approach. Explain that you are considering the candidate as an integral part of your administration or office team and that you would appreciate any insights about the person as an employee. Sometimes people will open up if you make them aware of the consequences of their feedback.

Of all our recruiting tips, this may be the most important. It can be challenging to get feedback from previous employers, but it’s worth putting in the effort to gather it. What you learn from checking references can greatly affect your hiring decision, either confirming you’ve found a star or alerting you to hidden red flags when hiring the right employee. 

Try an honest approach with something like, “I’m seriously considering hiring Amy for this admin staff role, and I’d hate to have to let her go if she proves not to be a good match. I’d really appreciate any insights you can share about her.” Sometimes people will open up more if you make them care about the consequences of your hiring decision.

Lastly, don’t overlook your administrative team’s ability to make your job easier. They may be able to offer recruiting tips, input on the job description or suggestions for where to post the job ad. You may even consider asking trusted admin staff to review resumes with you or take part in the interview process. After all, who knows the ins and outs of the role better than they do?

This article originally appeared as Recruiting tips that can help you hire a great admin on the Robert Half OfficeTeam blog.

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