Clerical Skills List and Examples

Clerical Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews

Woman working at desk
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Clerical work ensures that an office runs smoothly. It involves the day-to-day administrative tasks of an office, such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, sending faxes, and filing documents.

Clerical / administrative skills are useful for almost anyone who works in an office. Most employees need to do at least some clerical work, so these skills can come in handy no matter what your official job title is. Office clerks and secretaries need to have particularly strong clerical skills. Employees in these positions perform the majority of an office’s day-to-day tasks.

Types of Clerical Jobs

While some people use these job titles interchangeably, office clerks and secretaries are actually different from administrative assistants. Administrative assistants often need a college degree, and are given more responsibilities, including spearheading projects and sometimes even managing teams.

In contrast, clerks and secretaries typically do not need extensive education beyond a high school degree (although there are higher education programs that focus on clerical and secretarial work). They manage the daily operations of an office, but generally do not have managerial responsibilities.

Clerks and secretaries work in a variety of industries, including finance, business, medicine, government, law, and more. Some of these positions require specific skills. However, there are basic skills that are necessary for nearly every clerical and administrative assistant position.

Read below for a list of clerical skills that employers seek in candidates for employment. Included is a detailed list of the five most important clerical skills, as well as supplemental lists of related administrative skills.

How to Use Skills Lists

You can use these skills lists throughout your job search process. It’s important to use several of these skill words throughout your resume. Employers increasingly use applicant tracking systems to rank and “score” the resumes they receive. These systems are programmed to seek specific keywords, and so resumes that incorporate them will be more likely to be selected for further review by hiring managers during their second round of consideration.

Secondly, you can use these keywords in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, try to mention one or two of these skills, and give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated them at work.

Finally, you can use these skill words in an interview. Make sure you have at least one example for a time you demonstrated each of the top five skills listed here.

Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully, and focus on the skills listed by the employer.

Also review our other lists of skills listed by job and by type of skill.

Top Clerical Skills

Attention to Detail
Clerical work involves paying attention to the day-to-day details of an office – things other people might overlook, such as answering and keeping track of emails, tracking appointments, and more. A clerk or secretary needs to be able to focus on these details, and not let anything slip through the cracks.

  • Analytical
  • Making travel arrangements
  • Prioritization
  • Problem solving
  • Reasoning
  • Record keeping
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Typing

Communication
Clerical workers need to have strong written and oral communication skills. They will typically answer phones, write memos, send emails, and greet clients and customers.

They therefore must be able to speak and write clearly and effectively. They need to convey information in a way that is easy to understand.

  • Answering phones
  • Communication
  • Correspondence
  • Customer service
  • Email
  • Faxing
  • Front desk
  • Language skills
  • Listening
  • Oral communication
  • Proofreading
  • Writing

Computer Skills
In this day and age, computer skills are critical for any clerical job. Clerks and secretaries have to be quick and accurate typists. They are also typically required to do some data entry, so they should be familiar with Excel and other data entry software. They should also be familiar with other Microsoft Office software, such as Word and PowerPoint. Any additional computer skills, such as the ability to design or edit web pages, would be considered a big plus.

  • Data entry
  • Data management
  • Database fluency
  • Desktop publishing
  • Microsoft Office
  • Office machines
  • Word processing

Numeracy
Much clerical work involves numeracy. Some clerks are in charge, to a degree, of bookkeeping and/or accounting for a company. This requires numeracy skills. The ability to calculate sums quickly is definitely a positive quality in a clerk or secretary.

  • Accounting
  • Accuracy
  • Billing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Budgeting
  • Expense
  • Spreadsheets
  • Technology

Organization
Clerks and secretaries must be organized. They are in charge of making sure the office runs smoothly. This involves keeping track of the employer’s schedule, answering emails and phone calls, and maintaining files. All of this takes a lot of organizational skill.

  • Decision making
  • Delivering mail
  • Efficient
  • Filing
  • Management
  • Multitasking
  • Oversight
  • Photocopying and collating
  • Planning
  • Sorting
  • Time management

Soft Skills

In addition to these top five clerical skills, the best office workers also possess soft skills that are often innate personality traits rather than learned competencies. These include strong interpersonal skills, teamwork, flexibility, dependability, creativity, adaptability, and creativity. They are essential characteristics for office managers, receptionists, personal assistants, office assistants, and executive assistants