When an employer is preparing to recruit for an exceptional EA or other administrative professional, the list of competencies and attributes a preferred candidate will possess can read like a long shopping list, including (are you ready?) accountability, accuracy/attention to detail, analytical thinking/problem solving, budget administration, communications – both oral and written – for results, composure/resilience in the face of stress, confidentiality, decisiveness, industry/sector knowledge, initiative, interpersonal skills, liaison/relationship building, managing work and performance/developing others, organisation and planning, problem solving, research and analysis, self knowledge and development, time management … and, oh, yes, technical competencies that will include attributes such as stellar keyboarding skills.
While some may persist in thinking that EAs and other administrative professionals spend most of our time typing, the reality for many of us is that we may spend more of any given day engaged in research and analysis, event planning, managing schedules, liaising with people or putting out the inevitable fire than we do at a keyboard.
If you’ve noticed a decline in your keyboarding speed or accuracy, be it the result of an extended vacation or other absence from the workplace, or the reality that more of your time at the office is dedicated to other responsibilities, you may want to take a look at software designed to enhance such skills. I first turned to Broderbund Software’s Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing when preparing to return to an admin. professional role after time spent as a corporate trainer and then freelance photographer. Small investments of money and time helped correct a couple of keyboard errors that had crept in, and restored speed to its previous levels.
While one might anticipate that today’s young graduates enter the workplace with the capacity to keyboard in their sleep – many of us have seen toddlers happily pressing buttons on their parents’ smartphones – that is not necessarily the case for all new job seekers. A couple of years ago I lunched with a friend whose daughter was unsuccessful in securing a return to summer employment with the same employer that had hired her during the gap between her first and second year degree studies. The reason? The employer had mandated keyboard testing for student hires, and this young applicant, despite possessing other strong skills, consistently tested just shy of the minimum keyboarding standards. Speed wasn’t the issue; rather, it was her keyboarding mistakes that reduced her net score. I suggested my old pal Mavis to her mum, who made a point of purchasing the software on her way home the same day and, with a week or so of focused practice, her daughter was able to return to the employer’s HR department and pass the test.
If you’re preparing to launch your own job search, or simply want to brush up your keyboarding skills, have a look at available software. The beauty of highly rated Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, which has been in production since 1987, is that you can choose from hundreds of exercises and customise drills to suit your needs and correct your particular weakness. This particular software enables you to launch practice based on current skills and then take on increasingly challenging exercises as capabilities progress. Mavis is so successful that Broderbund has issued releases targeted not only to administrative professionals, but also to families and kids. Just as there is no actual Betty Crocker, various models have represented the fictional Ms. Beacon, but the capacity to build and maintain your keyboarding skills is very real.