How to get a Clerical or Customer Service Job

They are communicators, have extensive computer experience, trained in data entry, research the Internet, market, business write, and run errands, who are they? Office workers. They answer the phone, greet the visitor, file, organize events, schedule meetings, and take notes. You may not think much of their title when you visit the doctor’s office, meet with the attorney, visit a non-profit organization, or wait for the principal at your child’s school, but there job is significant and usually if it wasn’t for them, you would have never got in the door to see who you wanted to see. You may be seeking an administrative assistant, secretarial, or clerical worker position, but may not know how to put your experience altogether to land the position. Here is what you will need to do.

Get organized.
Very detailed and organized people usually work these types of jobs. They are the ones who maintain order in the office. You will want to be sure that you are great with staying organized. It may make you cringe when someone does the following: not put something back in its rightful place, fail to keep documents organized, ignore answering the phone, forget about deadlines, don’t bother to proof and edit documents, and show up for work late! Have you done the total opposite? Then list your skills on your resume. You may have personally or professionally organized an event as well, mention what kind of event it was and what was its purpose on your resume.

Office workers tend to be creative in their own way. They may have experience with desktop publishing and are responsible for creating fliers, company newsletters, and other documents that showcase the company’s image. They may have also been responsible for decorating the office during holidays and displaying other creative works, add that experience to your resume.

Clerical staff may not work individually, but as a group. They may have to handle a variety of tasks collectively which means being able to get along with other workers. From color coding files to rearranging furniture, if there is something that needs to be done in the office, at a meeting, or at a large event, an office worker has something to do with it. Communicating with other staff is crucial and usually he or she has to report to more than one person. Sometimes there is only one secretary or administrative assistant for an entire department!

Some clerical workers are responsible for entering information into a computer software program that tracks hours worked. Being able to tabulate this information accurately while answering the phone and handling other responsibilities is definitely for those who can multi-task extremely well.
Accounts Payables and Receivables.
This is where the courses you took in accounting will be extremely helpful. Some clerical workers are responsible for making sure bills are paid and checks are deposited in a timely fashion. Experience with creating and maintaining spreadsheets are a must, more on this later. Clerical workers may also have to assist with collection calls, processing letters, and updating or reconciling a customer’s account. Most assistants have basic math, accounting and/or book keeping experience.

Quality Control.
If you ever had to look over someone else’s work, then you know what focus this takes to ensure that there are zero errors. You may be the one responsible for looking over your supervisor or manager’s work before it’s sent out. You may also have to review reports, spreadsheets, and other documents for accurate details and make corrections.

Although this wasn’t listed first, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t significant. If you can’t handle a ringing phone don’t apply for a position that says, “High call volume.” You will most likely have to handle 10 plus phone lines ringing all at once. You will be responsible for directing calls and taking detailed messages either by hand or typed into a computer and routed to the staff.

Duplicating documents, filing, and faxing.
Some clerical jobs are primarily made of stapling documents, filing them, copying them, or sending them electronically all day every day. The work can be redundant and just plain boring. But if you don’t mind a day where you know what to expect and you are careful about what you do, a file clerk, clerical assistant, office assistant and other similar titles should be great for you. You will experience the occasional copier and fax machine jams, have to reload paper often, and will need to be focus on where you place documents alphabetically or numerically while protecting yourself from painful paper cuts.

Data entry.
Some clerical jobs may also have a lot of alphabetical and numerical data entry work. You may spend the majority of an eight hour day seated in front of a computer screen typing. If you are a quick typist with a high accuracy rate then this job shouldn’t be challenging for you, but woe to the person who types below 70 wpm and doesn’t do to well catching errors, this job may be over before you get started.

Spreadsheets, charts, slideshows, and tables.
Whether you have to prepare these documents for your manager’s presentation or just to help with efficiency, it helps to have some experience creating them. You will need to know how to take the information he or she gives you and convert it into a computer software system that will make things easier for the viewer to understand. It also helps to be able to look at the way things are normally done in the office and find a better way to do them, so if you see your manager viewing a complicated spreadsheet maybe you might want to create a pie chart which gives him or her a quick glance at the latest figures. Instead of your manager boring staff yet again with a mouth full of words, you may want to utilize slideshow presentation software complete with clip art and music to help wake up staff attending your manager’s meeting. This is an excellent skill to have and definitely helps with your job security efforts!

Most office workers are the first to get the mail. They usually have a good idea what their manager likes to keep and what he or she likes to throw away. Being able to sort mail as instructed, call his or her attention to priority mail, and respond when necessary is essential to this position.
You may also be responsible for outgoing mail tasks as well. Your manager may need you to create a mass mailing which includes being able to merge letters, create labels, stuff envelopes, and correctly select postage.

Problem Solve
Your manager will not always be available to answer questions from those calling the office. You will need to know how to handle issues and satisfy the one speaking to you over the phone or in-person. Sometimes you may find yourself in a position to put out fires. Patience, self-control, and wisdom helps!

Sometimes you may be told to help with advertising the business that may include maintaining a media clipping file of all the companies press coverage, making arrangements for advertisements, working a table at a conference, or posting fliers in the community. There are many other marketing endeavors he or she may include you in on, so it helps to have some experience with marketing if you intend to go above and beyond your job title. You may be required to maintain the company website and send press releases via the Internet.

Vacuum, dusting, getting coffee, and taking out trash
Are office workers expected to do this too? Sometimes. Not every company is so privileged to have a maintenance crew who will do all of these things. When you see the carpet is looking shabby, your work area is making everyone sneeze, the trash is running over, and visitors could use refreshments, you may be asked to perform such tasks. Of course, you may feel like this isn’t in your job description, but at some point someone will ask, “Would you mind…?” It’s inevitable.

Computer and Software Experience
By now you know that extensive computer experience is a must. There is no way of getting around it unless you plan on working in an environment that being able to type on a computer is not required. With technology becoming more and more advanced, office workers will be expected to do more especially when it comes to the Internet. Understanding how a website is created, learning how to market and research via the Internet, upload and download documents, convert files and other Internet related tasks will be viable skills to a company that is still living in the stone age.

In summary, if you are considering a position in clerical or customer service work and don’t feel confident with your existing experience, try obtaining a job with a temporary agency first and develop your skills more that way. Once you are more skilled at clerical and customer service work, start researching companies that are hiring. Review the details of what might be required of you then tailor your resume to fit their needs.

By Nicholl McGuire

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