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How to be an amazing office manager

Amazing office managers are worth their weight in gold. They work in all sectors – government, private and not-for-profit – and at multiple levels, right up to senior.

What exactly do office managers do? How do you become one? What skills are needed?

This week’s expert article answers these questions and covers the diversity of responsibilities and rewarding opportunities of being an office manager.

What is an office manager?

As the name implies, this role supports the management of an office, for seamless operations and maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Different titles are used for this important role, including office administrator, office coordinator or office support officer.

What responsibilities do office managers have?

Office manager responsibilities vary from organisation to organisation and sector to sector.

Factors that can influence duties are the size of the office, the nature of its work, and the seniority of the position required.

What are specific examples of office manager duties?

Most office managers are responsible for general administrative duties key to the daily functioning of the work environment. They typically support other team members and perhaps report to senior managers.

Here are a few examples:

  • managing phone, email and other inquiries
  • managing busy inboxes and diaries
  • supporting the running of meetings (booking rooms, drafting agendas, taking minutes, following up on actions)
  • handling travel arrangements (flights, accommodation and expenses)
  • handling databases and customer relationship management systems (input, update, quality assure)
  • managing records and filing requirements
  • developing basic office procedures
  • ordering supplies and consumables
  • managing office resources
  • in smaller offices, handling basic finance tasks
  • updating and maintaining process documents
  • supporting a director or business owner.

What skills do office managers need?

The best office managers have a great blend of hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills

Hard skills include proficiency with:

  • computers and the latest software and apps, for accuracy and efficiency (for example, Excel, Outlook and Microsoft Office)
  • data systems, including complete, accurate and timely management
  • processes, including compliance with policies and processes
  • finances, such as purchase orders, invoicing, banking, and reconciling.

Soft skills

Soft skills can include:

  • ability to handle diverse administrative tasks
  • organisational abilities
  • confidence in making sound decisions
  • flexibility in fast-paced environments
  • ability to meet deadlines
  • attention to detail
  • confidence in multi-tasking and triaging priorities so things get done in the right order and on time
  • communications with stakeholders (internal and external)
  • well-developed interpersonal skills
  • ability to stay calm under pressure.

Learn more

Soft versus hard skills: Care about the difference

Do I need formal qualifications to be an office manager?

You don’t always need formal qualifications to be an office manager, but certifications or diplomas will strengthen your chances, including in areas like:

  • business administration
  • office administration
  • leadership and management
  • business (records and information management)
  • organisational development
  • entrepreneurship and new business.

Explore these links:

Office Manager Courses

College for Adult Learning

Australian Online Courses


Open Colleges

How much experience do I need to be an office manager?

This depends on the type and level of position.

Read the job description carefully and/or talk to your recruiter to clarify the level of experience.

Do I need sector-specific experience when applying for an office manager role?

This depends on the mandatory and desirable requirements in the job description.

Transferrable skills are key. If you’ve worked in the private sector as an office manager in one industry, chances are you’ll have skills that another industry will want.

Sometimes, however, an organisation is particular about the sector, or industry-specific (or specialty) experience needed. Pay attention to this. One example, might be a law firm wanting an office manager with specific legal environment experience.

Learn more

Transferable skills: What do you need to know

Transferable skills: More important than ever

Final tips

  • Quantify your office management experience on your resume so you stand out.
  • Proofread your resume, one-page pitch and/or cover letter to avoid mistakes and demonstrate your attention to detail.
  • Read the job description and highlight the tasks you feel confident with and those you know you can learn easily.
  • Never underestimate your transferable skills.
  • Don’t waste time applying for the wrong level of office manager position (too junior or too senior). When in doubt, speak to your recruiter or the hiring manager.

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