Gayleen Keeton, the secretary-stenographer of 21 years ago,
couldn't have imagined the responsibilities and skills she has now.
"In 1986, I was typing letters that were handwritten or
dictated," said the executive assistant to Oklahoma City Mayor Mick
Cornett. "I didn't draft any letters of my own to be signed by my
executive. Now I have the information immediately on hand myself, in
e-mail or the Internet.
"In matters that are very routine, once you learn what your
executive's answer is, you're able to provide that yourself most of
the time or have him sign off on it," she said. "After you work with
somebody for so long, you learn their decisions."
Keeton's perspective is common; behind every great executive is
an administrative assistant, a position still evolving far beyond
the phone calls and filings a secretary once handled, staffing
experts at OfficeTeam have found.
"With changing times, they've had to be the ones to flex and take
on extra roles that executives themselves deal with," said Valerie
Forsythe, division director of Robert Half International's
OfficeTeam office in Oklahoma City. "Over the years, it seems people
have increased their work, work, work. And when that happens, it
gets pushed to everybody, from the top all the way down."
Oklahoma is seeing its strongest staffing demand for
administrative assistants, OfficeTeam's 2007 Salary Guide survey
found, as well as for receptionists and customer service
representatives. The trend is being driven by quickly changing
technology, Forsythe said.
Managing client relationships, budget tracking, event planning,
database management, research and training, and computer support
were all cited as areas in which administrative assistants'
responsibilities have grown in just the past two years. About 86
percent of managers said that responsibilities of their
administrative staff will continue to grow more complex, beyond
traditional tasks such as filing, taking minutes and answering
The OfficeTeam salary guide lists about 20 administrative titles,
and the stand-alone position of "secretary" is not among them;
everyone has moved into the niche of specialist, assistant or
coordinator these days.
"Top executives are realizing, 'Hey, I've got to have someone
good beside me,'" Forsythe said. And 85 percent of respondent
executives said their administrative assistants play a major role in
their success, the company reported. Forsythe said the position has
also garnered more prestige as those employees work even more
closely with the company's top bosses. …