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How to Get Clerical Experience

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Whether you're considering a career change or you have recently decided to enter the world of work, clerical positions have more potential than many people think. No one from middle management or above can accomplish everything they need to do without a top-notch secretarial team running things in the background. Additionally, no company succeeds for long unless it has an engaging and effective reception team at the front desk.

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How do you get the experience you need to shoulder these responsibilities? It's more straightforward than you might believe.

What Is a Clerk?

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A clerk might be a general office worker, receptionist, front desk assistant, medical assistant, paralegal, cashier, bookkeeper, data entry clerk, information desk staff member, bill collector, auditor or customer service representative.

Clerks serving as general office workers can make a median income of $31,500 per year, or $15.14 per hour, with just a high school diploma. You don't often need to use a fax machine since the advent of QR codes and digital signatures, but you should still familiarize yourself with how they operate. You should also learn to use copy machines, sales and reservation software, basic bookkeeping programs and multiline telephone systems.

Receptionists and front desk personnel serve as the face of the company or office. Your duty as a receptionist consists of making a great first impression. This impression begins when someone calls your company or walks through the door. The right attitude stops problems before they start, so a friendly, engaging personality provides the C-suite and the back office teams with the breathing space they need to resolve issues.

What Is Clerical Work?

The phrase, "The job's not finished until the paperwork gets done," serves as the motto of clerks all over the world. Secretaries and receptionists get signatures and check documentation, and send and receive texts and emails, phone calls and snail mail. Aspiring administrative assistants proofread everything before sending it on behalf of the bosses. They use as much care for requests from the lowliest middle manager as they do for the CEO's pronouncements. C-suite secretarial aspirants ensure that every official statement made has each "i "dotted and every "t" crossed.

How to Gain Clerical Experience

All clerks, receptionists or administrative assistants must learn to file documents and correspondence with 100 percent accuracy. Offer to update the mailing list of your favorite community groups, such as your local food bank, homeless service or animal shelter.

The YMCA and YWCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Scouts and other nonprofit social clubs never have enough help during their annual donation drives. To gain clerical experience in a nonprofit organization, offer to compose and edit documents, letters, emails and faxes as often as you can find the time.

Your local public library often schedules classes in beginner and intermediate computer skills. Demonstrate your ability to locate physical and digitized information and communications by gaining certificates in business software such as Excel, Quickbooks, Open Office and other useful applications. You can also learn to create, write, edit and modify reports, charts, graphics and electronic or physical presentations for little or no cost.

Receptionists receive a median wage of $28,390 per year, or $13.65 per hour, with little more than a high school diploma and excellent communication skills. If any friends or family members have a business, offer to greet visitors, answer phones and explain the company's services, vision and organizational structure in general terms.

If you currently attend classes in business administration, nursing or allied health, check with your academic advisor about work-study opportunities that include secretarial or administrative positions. For the most current, career-aligned experience, request an internship if you have that option.

If you already work in a different position in a busy office, ask for administrative duties when you have downtime. You get a more in-depth look at your future responsibilities, and also network with upper management, your vendors and suppliers, and your potential and actual customer base.

If you need to reenter the workforce after a hiatus for family responsibilities, health issues or economic factors, offer to take minutes, proofread applications or format the training and employment manual for your favorite community group, charity or house of worship.
Does your current job's benefits package include paid college and training for classes related to your desired position? Take the opportunity to hone your clerical and administrative skills if your schedule and level of responsibility permit.

Medical assistants help busy doctors spend their time diagnosing and treating patients rather than chasing paperwork. If you take a community medicine focus and gain a two-year associate's degree in medical assisting, you can expect a median wage of $39,180 per year, or $18.83 per hour. You can gain experience as a medical assistant via an internship, or look for community medical events where your services as a volunteer would help speed up the intake process.

About the Author

Smith has been a student, independent contractor, entrepreneur, car salesperson, beauty consultant, and a water treatment salesperson. All of those career changes had their benefits and drawbacks. Smith believes in experiential learning as key to success in the work world, so don't be afraid to try something new that does not match your official qualifications. Smith urges business owners and job seekers alike to dig deep and discover what motivates you to give your best.

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