What new secretaries should know when starting a new job

Before starting a new position, these are our top four tips for secretaries to help make a good impression and be successful on the job.


Be polite and friendly to everyone you meet

While this might seem like stating the obvious, you definitely want to be sure that you’re polite and friendly to everyone you meet that first day, from the person working in the parking garage, to the receptionist, to anyone you meet in the hallways. You don’t yet know who everyone is, or any of the office politics, and you want to make sure that you don’t make a bad impression. You also want to make sure that you don’t step on anyone’s toes that you might need to help you later on, especially if you need to ask a favor for your boss, department, or office. Besides, being polite and friendly is also just the decent thing to do.

Take notes – and not just mental ones

This isn’t a memory contest, and although you might think that your boss or the executives might be more impressed if you show them how good you are at remembering what they say, they’ll be more impressed if you get it right. Don’t be afraid to take notes during meetings, for requests, or even for simple logistics like where the office supplies are, and where to go for lunch. You’ll have a lot of information thrown at you in the first days of your new job, and it’s entirely possible (and understandable) that you’ll forget something. So jot it down so you won’t forget!

Be observant

Even if you have some downtime, waiting for your boss to finish a meeting, or in a group
orientation or gathering, be observant. See who speaks to whom, what the cliques seem to be, and if there are any obvious hierarchies in the office that might not be officially acknowledged. All offices have internal politics going on, and you want to at least grasp the basics of these so that you don’t accidently become a target or victim of grudges, gossip, or outright favoritism.

Don’t be afraid to ask for preferences

Especially if you’re working for an individual who might be far up the food chain, you want to make sure you know what his or her preferences are. If the departing secretary doesn’t have a record of these (such as favorite lunch, drink preference, or way she or he likes phone logs to be kept), then don’t be afraid to ask. It’s quicker than trying to guess, and as long as you ask once, and don’t forget – you won’t look forgetful or inexperienced. Again, write down anything you think you might need to remember later, even if it’s something as simple as shirt size, allergies, or address.