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What qualifications do you need to work in an office?


Lisa O`Brien
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Hi. I've been looking online to see what if any, particular qualification one needs to work in a office. I was thinking of Receptionist work. I assume you must be computer literate, and have at least a GCSE in English and Maths. I was looking at online courses offered by Reed, and there are plenty.  Are they a waste of money? Would doing an 80 hour one be beneficial? I volunteered in an office decades ago, but all I had to do was answer the telephone. There was no other work involved, so my experience is practically zilch. Any suggestions? Thanks. ( I might one day become the world's oldest office junior) !!!

Edited by Lisa O`Brien
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I would look at some job adverts and see what skills they are asking for.

 

A lot of jobs these days list "competences" and "skills" as well as any formal qualifications they may require.  It can surprise people what skills they have accumulated just by living their lives!

 

For example, if you have previous experience answering a telephone you have built up some communication skills.

 

If you are looking to expand your skills perhaps you could do some volunteer work in, for example, a charity shop.

 

Are there any courses that explain how to write a CV, which these days is much more than just a list of where you went to school and what jobs you have had.

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Your local further education college would be the best place to advise you. If it's specifically receptionist work you're interested in, you could have a look at some recruitment agencies and see what the requirements they ask for jobs that would interest you.

 

Computer literacy and being up to date on the latest version of the Microsoft Office package would be essential and for some office jobs, this alone would be enough to get you a job, then you could build on your skills from there.

 

Don't worry about your age. My mum has taught on courses at a further education college and said there were lots of students in their forties and older, returning to work after raising families. She taught several who had no computer skills at all when they started, and they all went on to get jobs.

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I agree with the advice to look at the sort of jobs that would interest you and see what they are asking for. Personally I think an online course probably would be a waste of money.  Requirements for office work vary according to the actual role - reception, administrator and which department. For the most part they will ask for communication skills - sending and answering emails and confident using a telephone and for you to be computer literate. Sometimes they may specify they wish for someone competent with using excel or another particular program/application and often they will list the duties that the job entails.

 

A well written CV is a must though. I would get some advice on how to write your cv if you are unsure of how to best expres yourself

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Thank you 2dancers. That's just it though. Many jobs I see advertised tell you to upload your cv. But I would be like, what cv? Mine would be none-existent. I thought if I had completed some sort of admin/office course it would be at least something recent to write about. I literally have nothing. I last worked in Nursing Homes in the early 2000's. EDIT to add: Going back to that sort of work nowadays is impossible. Every home ( not that there are many here) and every Domicilliary care job state it is essential you have a car and a full driving licence. I don't drive, and i'm sure as heck not going to try and learn at the age of 50 just so I can work with the elderly.

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You will have acquired skills from the nursing homes and from your everyday life that are relevant -and that's what you pick out in a cv  - communication skills, organizational skills, listening skills, time management, ability to work as part of a team or individually. Its never easy to describe your own skills or experience though but I assure you you do have relevant transferable skills from life and previous work.

 

 

 

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My niece got basic advice on how to write a CV from whatever the department is now called where you have to go and look for jobs.  It wasn't hugely good advice but she did some research on the internet and came up with something must better.

 

A quick search on line came up with lots of sites and these look useful:

 

https://www.cv-library.co.uk/career-advice/cv/how-to-write-a-cv-tips-for-2018/

 

https://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2012/mar/15/cv-tips-first-arts-job

 

In your posts over the past few years we know you worked as a dancer in France and Japan, we know you have raised your son and we know you have been learning the latest versions of office automation software.  You have also just mentioned you worked somewhere where you responded to telephone calls.

 

From this we can deduce that you have communication skills, numeracy and literacy skills, practical skills relating to children.  A skilled CV writer would surprise you with how the skills you don't even know you've got can be presented!

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Many thanks. I suppose. I just don't think of myself like that I guess. I've just remembered that I was an LEA-appointed School Governor at both a Primary and Secondary School for around 10 months too. That might impress someone; although tbh I hated it !!

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So presumably you participated in meetings that followed an agenda and from which minutes were produced.  I don't know if you formulated an agenda or produced minutes but if you did that should most definitely be included in your CV.

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1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:

So presumably you participated in meetings that followed an agenda and from which minutes were produced.  I don't know if you formulated an agenda or produced minutes but if you did that should most definitely be included in your CV.

No I didn't. I wouldn't have a clue !!

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I think almost everyone Lisa, has something to offer an employer, in some jobs basic life skills would be more beneficial, rather than a degree in something not relevant. I wouldn't over do it with your CV too, just be honest, as employers will usually find most people out if you are lucky enough to get an interview. I'm sure with your experience of the dance world alone, and your personality, you would make a great employee. 

Good luck. 

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I'm now semi retired but have done some admin temp work through an agency. When I registered I was asked to do Excel and Word tests at the agency to determine the level I was at. As my previous role and level of responsibility was very different to the type of temporary work I was looking for, I was advised to do a skills based CV to focus on my transferable skills. There's a lot of info available online regarding how to write a CV and some free templates. It is surprising how many skills you build up just through everyday life, such as time management, multi tasking,  communication, working on own initiative, budgeting etc. You could then list IT skills and any courses you've done. Do you have any employment agencies near you that you could contact for advice and a chat about the best way to find some work? 

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15 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

In your posts over the past few years we know you worked as a dancer in France and Japan, we know you have raised your son and we know you have been learning the latest versions of office automation software.  You have also just mentioned you worked somewhere where you responded to telephone calls.

 

From this we can deduce that you have communication skills, numeracy and literacy skills, practical skills relating to children.  A skilled CV writer would surprise you with how the skills you don't even know you've got can be presented!

I completely agree with this - I don't know you Lisa but it is clear just from reading what you write that you are articulate and literate, that you are happy to offer well reasoned opinion on areas where you have knowledge and expertise, and equally happy to seek help if you have identified areas where you can improve your knowledge. Add to that the dedication, self discipline and team working skills required of a professional dancer, and the resilience and interpersonal skills developed through travelling and working abroad, and raising your son I think you potentially have much to offer an employer.

 

I don't know what sort of community you live in, but I wonder whether one relatively informal place to start gaining office and admin skills would be asking around amongst the small businesses you know and therefore who know you? So if there are people who know you and with whom you regularly pass the time of day you could ask if they know of anyone who might need a few hours of admin help, because you are looking for work.  They will already know how you conduct and present yourself and therefore may be more imaginative in their approach to recruiting. Your actual CV experience in that situation therefore becomes less relevant than when you are competing with others at an agency who may have taken a more direct and linear route to the same destination. It's just possible they may have something themselves, or if not that they can personally recommend you to someone they know and then even if what is out there is not what you originally were looking for it might enable you to gain experience and training to equip you going forwards. For example - you were a school governor - might your local primary school need office help or telephone cover for an hour or so across lunchtimes? Any small local independent shops/businesses you regularly visit, might they need help in the back office, phones answering or anything similar, or know someone who does?

 

A very good friend of mine who was left on her own in the lurch with her kids his debts and their mortgage by a disappearing husband, went out to a local café waitressing aged 50 after 20 years out of the workplace. She really believed she had nothing to offer an employer. 3 years later she has ended up in a creative head office role at the café chain because she did everything she did to the best of her ability, whether it was potwashing or stocktaking and somebody there was forward thinking enough to see the life skills she had gained could be turned into something really useful for everybody. So I genuinely believe that there are open minded employers out there  who want good people to succeed. You just need to put yourself in the way of as many as possible, and potentially be willing to kiss a few employment frogs before the right one comes along.

 

Very best of luck!

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43 minutes ago, zxDaveM said:

I've always found a PhD in BS the greatest qualification! ;-)

 

This reminds me of a meme I saw a couple of days ago which made me laugh...

 

"I have a strong customer service background.  By that I mean I always press the mute button before calling someone a c**t."

 

:D

 

(Best of luck, Lisa!)

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When I went back to work after not working for several years, the one course I found very beneficial was an online Excel course.  MS Word and the like are fairly easy to play around with to figure out how to do a bit more than just typing and setting margins (i.e. columns, tables, etc.), but Excel can be a bit trickier to learn.  If nothing else, a beginning Excel course will teach you how to use if for the basics, as well as what the program CAN do if you put in more time playing with it.  I use it daily in my office job because I actually find it easier and more time efficient than Word to do many basic organizational tasks, lists, etc. I can easily format and sort my information before inserting it into a Word document.

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7 hours ago, Vonrothbart said:

I think almost everyone Lisa, has something to offer an employer, in some jobs basic life skills would be more beneficial, rather than a degree in something not relevant. I wouldn't over do it with your CV too, just be honest, as employers will usually find most people out if you are lucky enough to get an interview. I'm sure with your experience of the dance world alone, and your personality, you would make a great employee. 

Good luck. 

Thank you for saying so, Vonrothbart.x

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3 hours ago, YorkshirePudding said:

I completely agree with this - I don't know you Lisa but it is clear just from reading what you write that you are articulate and literate, that you are happy to offer well reasoned opinion on areas where you have knowledge and expertise, and equally happy to seek help if you have identified areas where you can improve your knowledge. Add to that the dedication, self discipline and team working skills required of a professional dancer, and the resilience and interpersonal skills developed through travelling and working abroad, and raising your son I think you potentially have much to offer an employer.

 

I don't know what sort of community you live in, but I wonder whether one relatively informal place to start gaining office and admin skills would be asking around amongst the small businesses you know and therefore who know you? So if there are people who know you and with whom you regularly pass the time of day you could ask if they know of anyone who might need a few hours of admin help, because you are looking for work.  They will already know how you conduct and present yourself and therefore may be more imaginative in their approach to recruiting. Your actual CV experience in that situation therefore becomes less relevant than when you are competing with others at an agency who may have taken a more direct and linear route to the same destination. It's just possible they may have something themselves, or if not that they can personally recommend you to someone they know and then even if what is out there is not what you originally were looking for it might enable you to gain experience and training to equip you going forwards. For example - you were a school governor - might your local primary school need office help or telephone cover for an hour or so across lunchtimes? Any small local independent shops/businesses you regularly visit, might they need help in the back office, phones answering or anything similar, or know someone who does?

 

A very good friend of mine who was left on her own in the lurch with her kids his debts and their mortgage by a disappearing husband, went out to a local café waitressing aged 50 after 20 years out of the workplace. She really believed she had nothing to offer an employer. 3 years later she has ended up in a creative head office role at the café chain because she did everything she did to the best of her ability, whether it was potwashing or stocktaking and somebody there was forward thinking enough to see the life skills she had gained could be turned into something really useful for everybody. So I genuinely believe that there are open minded employers out there  who want good people to succeed. You just need to put yourself in the way of as many as possible, and potentially be willing to kiss a few employment frogs before the right one comes along.

 

Very best of luck!

Many thanks, Yorkshire x

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If you're not a fast typist, it helps brushing up a bit - makes MS Office skills shine so much more than demonstrating Excel as an one fingered typist trying to find a hyphen.

 

There are are free online games etc that can help to increase typing speed. A bit boring, but it only takes half an hour a day over a couple of weeks to get fast enough.

 

We've had interns who barely knew which way up to use a keyboard, and it really makes a difference when you get one who can touch type.

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Sorry to bore you all. I keep seeing job adverts saying ECDL, the European Computer Driving Licence is needed. Our local college offers this course. It is listed as a Level 2 course, which is what I am currently doing ( We've moved on to Microsoft Outlook now). Is the ECDL the main qualification people have nowadays? ( I think it used to be CLAIT, didn't it). Thanks. The course I am currently doing is 1 evening a week for 16 weeks, but the ECDL is 1 evening a week for 30 weeks.

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Lisa

 

Looks like this may be withdrawn anyway,  so I'd be careful before signing up.  

 

If it was me and I saw a job I fancied. I'd contact them and explain I was doing the course you are doing, and ask if they would accept that as an alternative.

 

If i was my son I'd apply anyway and probably tell them why they were wrong !!

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