10 Things I Would Tell A Brand New Secretary

I asked Beth from Secretary4Life to share what survival tips she would give to someone who was just starting out as a secretary. (I knew she would include just the right amount of humor to make them fun to read) I don’t think secretaries get enough respect for all the important things they do and they do a lot of random things which makes their jobs even more stressful. Here are some great tips from Beth for anyone starting a new job as a secretary: (and to be honest, there are a lot of things in here that apply to normal jobs too)

1. Be extra-organized with your filing. You want locating things to be as simple as possible because it will always be you who has to find it. The people you work for are never going to look for anything themselves. So make sub-folders and mark what’s in them clearly with a Sharpie. Use color-coded folders so you can find certain ones with a glance. And if you ever do get the luxury of a vacation day, your bosses will be impressed by how easily they were able to find what they needed.

2. You don’t have to do everything. Sure you have to file and answer the phones and all your typical secretarial stuff. But at 8 months pregnant, my boss once asked me to drive his car to the dealership because there was something wrong with the brakes. Um, no. You have a right to say no to anything that puts your safety in jeopardy or causes you to have a panic attack. Unless those weird things are specifically in your job description, they can find somebody else to do it.

3. Be careful about AutoComplete, especially if you work with six different guys named Mike. Mike #1 might be your best bud, but the other 5 Mikes might be able to fire you. The last thing you want is to send an email saying “I just saw Walter’s butt crack when he was plugging in his USB,” to the wrong person. Always check, and then double check, before you hit Send.

4. Bring a space heater and a sweater. There is never enough heat in the winter, and always too much A/C in the summer. It’s how the universe prevents us from ever having a truly good day at work.

5. Always take your lunch hour. Not everybody can afford the Chipotle/Quizno’s binges that I go on every day, so I understand if you need to bring lunch from home and eat at your desk. But getting out of the office mid-day is very important to keeping your sanity. So do some work while you eat. Type a letter, research new cell phone plans for your boss – easy stuff. Then use your lunch hour afterwards to go get a cup of coffee and read a book.

6. Always keep the tracking numbers for Fed Ex shipments. Tracking numbers are a life saver. Imagine that your mean boss says to you: “Joe told me he didn’t get that package I asked you to send out yesterday.” Imagine that he has that look in his eye that is reserved for incompetent secretaries and murderers. Now imagine that you can produce proof that the package was delivered and signed for by Joe’s incompetent secretary. Ah, priceless.

7. Proof-read everything you turn in. Nothing is worse than upholding the stereotype of the idiot secretary. If you hand in a letter or a report that you typed up and it’s full of typos, guess what? You’re going to look like an idiot and pretty soon your bosses will be passing your work off to the other secretaries – and they won’t be happy about it. And then, you’ll get fired. It may be an easy job, and you may hate it, but you should still try to do it well.

8. Keep a supply of floss, Band-aids, headache medicine, stain remover, antacids, and feminine hygiene products in your desk. Most people don’t have these things, so you will get to play the hero on many occasions. If your boss never says thank you for any of the work that you do, you may finally get one when you hand her a tampon.

9. Office-wide emails are not the place to get cute with smiley faces. Work emails are not your MySpace page, nor are they your sticker book from 4th grade. Nobody is going to scratch & sniff your email, and the CFO of the company doesn’t need to be winked at by a semi-colon. Just get to the point, include the words please & thank you, and for the love of God, do not put your entire message in the subject line.

10. You may have to page people over the intercom. I hold the number 4 spot on the Top 5 Most Socially Awkward People in the World list. So there is something to be said for the fact that I’m able to use the office intercom without a problem. When I first found out I would have to announce “Bob Shmob is on line 4,” as if I were Moses atop Mt. Sinai, I almost passed out. Unfortunately, using the intercom is not one of the things you can refuse to do. Just realize that nobody cares what you sound like, and most people will tune you out anyway. If I can do it, you can do it. Unless, of course, somebody named Richard Long calls in, and then you have to worry about getting the giggles.

Do you have any tips to share? Comment below!