How to Become An Office Manager When You Have Zero Experience

How to become an office manager

If you have little administrative work experience, then you might wonder how to become an Office Manager. You might find yourself asking questions, such as:

  • How do you get the experience you need?
  • How can you leverage experience you do have for an Office Manager role?
  • What can you expect once you even get started?

Don’t worry—we have answers to these questions and more! Motivated professionals can find ways to leverage their existing experience, skills, and knowledge to begin successful careers as Office Managers. Here’s everything you need to know about breaking into an Office Manager role.

(If you’re an Office Manager, join our private FB Group here. It’s a place to connect, collaborate, and share advice on how to overcome the wide spectrum of challenges you face in your role.)

 

An Office Manager Explainer

Role Summary

Office Managers help workplace operations run smoothly by managing workflows, relationships, and strategic initiatives. OMs develop and enforce policies and make sure their offices have the support necessary to become thriving work environments.

Many Office Managers find themselves being equal parts office groundskeeper, therapist, party planner, payroll specialist, and so much more.  

Office Managers often serve as the real friendly face in an office. They take care of people, resolving problems and providing a much-needed shoulder to “cry on” in tough situations where other listeners seem few and far between.

So whether it’s figuring out why no one’s passwords work all of a sudden to smoothing out a conflict between two key support employees, the ever-important tasks of an Office Manager go far in making sure work gets done, and done well, around the office.

Getting Office Manager Experience

Specific Responsibilities

So when it comes down to pinpointing exactly what Office Managers do every single day, the list of responsibilities is long and varies depending on company, variety of work, the OM’s experience, and so much more. Here are just some of the responsibilities most Office Managers will take on at one point or another:

  • Handling inventory and ordering. (This includes stocking office supplies, snacks, cleaning supplies, and other daily essentials.)
  • Overseeing the office budget
  • Managing office administrative team
  • Developing and implementing procedures. (This includes safety procedures, such as evacuation plans, building security protocols, and more.)
  • Being office bookkeeper
  • Creating reports and presentations
  • Planning parties and events
  • Taking care of payroll, invoicing, and most importantly, making sure everyone gets paid
  • Decides on a company information and architecture schematic
  • Liaising with key office contacts, including clients, vendors, building service staff, and more
  • Designing office layouts, makeovers, and renovations
  • Onboarding and offboarding employees
  • Manning the office phone and email account
  • Negotiating contracts and handling day-to-day management
  • Office conference room scheduling

Key Skills

Skilled Office Manager

Most Office Managers possess some, if not all, of these key skills:

  • Unstoppable energy
  • Analytical capacity
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Capacity to understand and act on situations involving both complex informational and interpersonal relationships
  • Ability to listen well
  • Communicating in speech and writing
  • Adaptability
  • Self sufficiency
  • Leadership
  • Flexibility
  • Organizational prowess
  • Time management
  • Follow-through to take projects from initiation to completion
  • Eye-for-detail to mind details both big and small

Salary

According to Glassdoor, the average base pay per year for Office Managers is $53,528 a year.

Hours

Office Managers have to do anything and everything it takes to make sure offices run smoothly. This tall order occasionally comes along with long nights, early mornings, and very occasionally, weekends. However, most Office Managers work the same hours as a typical employee at their companies. Many averages are still 9 to 5, but an OM’s hours will vary as much as the rest of the employees at their companies.


How to Become an Office Manager When You’re New to the Field or Switching Roles

Take training courses

Training

Courses help you build a variety of relevant Office Manager skills in low pressure settings. (They also help you build skills it could take you a few years on the job to learn.)

 

  • If your career is brand new…

Find a course that covers all the fundamental Office Manager skills. This will help you learn most of the “ropes” before you even get started. The U.S. Career Institute Online Office Administrator School. The comprehensive course features tons of areas aspiring Office Managers should focus on. Covered competencies include writing, math, communication, computer skills, interpersonal relations skills, file management, and so much more.

  • If you’re hoping to switch roles…

Find a course the covers a skill or skills you want to deepen. Take a look at the key responsibilities and skills above and figure out which items you want to work on. The ubiquity of online training courses makes it easy to find an offering for almost any skills. For example, the American Payroll Association offers a course on Implementing Payroll Best Practice. The course leverages case studies to add context to abstract concepts. Aspiring Office Managers who want to get better at planning meetings can look into the Professional Convention Association Management Association’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Exam Prep options to learn how to plan impressive meetings that impress even the most hard-to-please teams.

 

Get an Office Manager Certification

Office Manager certifications help you show potential employers that you have the skills necessary to become an Office Manager.

For example, the IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) offers the

Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). This certification will provide a boost to both brand-new careers and shifting careers. Anyone who passes this in-depth exam will be recognized as a master in the field. If you lack experience, this certification will help you build skills and also prove to the world that you have them.

Attend Networking Events and Conferences

Conferences and networking events bring together lots of people who do exactly what you do (or what you hope to do one day). As a result, these events present the perfect opportunities to ask veterans for their tips for success. (And you can’t recreate that kind of learning environment, even if large offices!)

  • If your career is brand new…

Put yourself out there at catch-all conferences to meet tons of experienced Office Manager and learn about all the essential skills for your field. An event, such as Pryor’s Managing Multiple Priorities, Projects, and Deadlines, makes the perfect choice for new Office Managers.

  • If you’re hoping to switch roles…

Try events with a focus on developing leaderships skills that can take your career to the next level. For example, Dale Carnegie® Training’s Confident, Assertive, In Charge: Developing the Attitudes of Leadership will help experienced professionals hoping to take on OM role build the skills necessary to make tough decisions.


There’s a path to a flourishing Office Manager career, whether you’re starting your career from scratch or transitioning from the role of Executive Assistant or Office Coordinator. Here are some tips to get you started no matter where you are in your career.

Start flexing your listening skills

Listening Skills

Part of an Office Manager’s unofficial skill set involves providing workplace therapy from time to time. Employees who’ve started building their muscles by learning to listen to everyone they see will find this particular duty easier to handle when the time comes to take it more easily.

Tip: Want to know the easiest way to get people to open up? Smile and make eye contact with everyone. The first step toward becoming a master listener is becoming that approachable person everyone opens up to.

  • If your career is brand new…

Start talking to everyone about anything. Ask open-ended questions to get people sharing. What’s keeping you busy lately? What are you most excited to work on this week and this year? Be curious, ask questions, and pay attention to everything people say. The more you do this, the easier it will be to learn exactly what questions to ask and figure out exactly what people need to hear in certain situations.

  • If you’re hoping to switch roles…

If you’ve been around the office a few times, then focus on making your already established listening skills as sharp as possible. Your goal is get people to see you as an “unofficial office therapist” and trusted confidante before you even step into an OM role.

To sharpen your emotionally intelligent office therapist skills, throw out your basic definition of listening. You can listen carefully to someone and still be focused only on what you want to say next. Instead, focus on both listening and reacting accordingly. As someone speaks, think about how they might be feeling. What might they want to hear to feel better? Validate your assumptions by asking questions before you deliver your thoughtful response.

 

Jump in to solve problems, even if they don’t have anything to do with your regular duties

Problem solving

When it comes to office problems, most employees turn a blind, and rightly so; they have too many other things to do and too many deadlines looming to dive into the problems that spring up on any given day at the office. However, when you’re an Office Manager, every problem—from the mess in the conference room to the error in the payroll report—falls under your purview. OM hopefuls should get used to seeing all office problems as their own. This will help them get used to taking on everything that comes their way, and it will also help them build the problem-solving skills they need to resolve issues.

Tip: Some experts use the IDEAL model (and acronym) to approach any problem. Here are the steps:

  • Identify the problem
  • Define the context
  • Explore and evaluate solutions
  • Act
  • Look back to see what worked

 

  • If your career is brand new…

Be on the lookout for problems in all areas and aspects of the job. When you’re just starting out, you’ll want to learn how to handle as diverse a range of problems as possible.

  • If you’re hoping to switch roles…

What potential problems leave you feeling the least confident? Seek out those problems to round out your problem-solving skills. You need to be ready for anything as an Office Manager, so diversifying your competencies should be a priority if you’re switching roles and used to only dealing with a narrow range of issues.

If you’re an Office Manager, we want to know how you got started! Help aspiring Office Managers and share your story in the comments below. 

(PS – If you’re an Office Manager, join our private FB Group here. It’s a place to connect, collaborate, and share advice on how to overcome the wide spectrum of challenges you face in your role.)

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