Office clerks are responsible for performing clerical and administrative duties in an office setting and support of business operations within a department. They assist all the administrative staff, secretaries, and assistants by sorting mail, filing forms and documents, answering phones, greeting clients, scheduling meetings, and serving drinks.
Office clerks typically do the following:
- Answer and transfer telephone calls or take messages
- Sort and deliver incoming mail and send outgoing mail
- Schedule appointments and receive customers or visitors
- Provide general information to staff, clients, or the public
- Type, format, or edit routine memos or other reports
- Copy, file, and update paper and electronic documents
- Prepare and process bills and other office documents
- Collect information and perform data entry.
The specific duties assigned to office clerks will depend on the type of office in which they work. For example, an office clerk at a college or university may process application materials and answer questions from prospective students, while a clerk at a hospital may file and retrieve medical records.
The following job titles also refer to office clerk:
Office clerks usually work in office settings. Most of them work full time.
Office clerks usually need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some clerks have a bachelor’s degree in fields such as business, social science, and psychology.
Courses in using computer applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet software, may be helpful for those who aren’t already familiar with them.
Office clerks usually learn their skills while on the job. Their training typically lasts up to 1 month and may include instructions on office procedures, proper phone etiquette, and the use of office equipment.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Office clerk is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Office clerk career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to office clerk.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of office clerk. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of office clerk with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of office clerk.
- Information confidentiality: The mechanisms and regulations which allow for selective access control and guarantee that only authorised parties (people, processes, systems and devices) have access to data, the way to comply with confidential information and the risks of non-compliance.
- Company policies: The set of rules that govern the activity of a company.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of office clerk.
- Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
- Disseminate internal communications: Disseminate internal communications using the different communication channels that a company has at its disposal.
- File documents: Create a filing system. Write a document catalogue. Label documents etc.
- Organise business documents: Put together documents coming from the photocopier, the mail, or the daily operations of businesses.
- Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
- Align content with form: Align form and content to make sure they fit together.
- Process commissioned instructions: Process instructions, usually oral ones, provided by managers and directives on actions required to be made. Take note, inquire, and take action on the commissioned requests.
- Use office systems: Make appropriate and timely use of office systems used in business facilities depending on the aim, whether for the collection of messages, client information storage, or agenda scheduling. It includes administration of systems such as customer relationship management, vendor management, storage, and voicemail systems.
- Handle mail: Handle mail considering data protection issues, health and safety requirements, and specifications of different kinds of mail.
- Perform office routine activities: Program, prepare, and perform activities required to be performed everyday in offices such as mailing, receiving supplies, updating managers and employees, and keeping operations running smoothly.
- Disseminate messages to people: Receive, process, and pass messages to people coming from phone calls, faxes, postal, and emails.
- Fill out forms: Fill out forms of a different nature with accurate information, legible calligraphy, and within a timely manner.
- Prepare correspondence for customers: Draft, prepare and issue correspondence to customers informing about pending bills, merchandising communication, apology letters, or greeting mails.
- Apply grammar and spelling rules: Apply the rules of spelling and grammar and ensure consistency throughout texts.
- Maintain correspondence records: Sort correspondence and attach previous records or files of correspondence with incoming mails.
- Organise facilities for office personnel: Manage the booking schedule for conferences and meetings of internal or external nature. Shop around and book reservations for travelling or hosting for office personnel.
- Route correspondence to business departments: Classify incoming correspondence, select priority mails and packages, and distribute them in the different departments of the company.
- Communicate by telephone: Liaise via telephone by making and answering calls in a timely, professional and polite manner.
- Deliver correspondence: Distribute mail correspondence, newspapers, packages and private messages to customers.
- Handle delivered packages: Administer delivered packages and ensure that they all reach their destination in time.
- Process data: Enter information into a data storage and data retrieval system via processes such as scanning, manual keying or electronic data transfer in order to process large amounts of data.
- Facilitate access to information: Prepare documents for archiving; ensure that the information can easily be accessed at all times.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of office clerk. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Transcription methods: The methods to quickly transcribe spoken language into text, such as stenography.
- Accounting techniques: The techniques of recording and summarising business and financial transactions and analysing, verifying, and reporting the results.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of office clerk. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Translate keywords into full texts: Draft e-mails, letters and other written documents on the basis of keywords or key concepts outlining the content. Choose the appropriate format and language style according to the type of document.
- Respect data protection principles: Ensure that access to personal or institutional data conforms to the legal and ethical framework governing such access.
- Maintain inventory of office supplies: Keep inventory of office supplies such as equipment and stationery items to avoid out of stock or misuse of the supplies.
- Digitise documents: Load analog documents by converting them into a digital format, using specialised hardware and software.
- Maintain internal communication systems: Maintain an effective internal communication system among employees and department managers.
- Use software for data preservation: Utilise specialised applications and software to collect and preserve digital information.
- Monitor staff absences: Keep an overview of the employees’ vacations, sick leaves and absences, register these in the agenda and file the necessary documents and certificates.
- Perform cleaning duties: Perform cleaning duties such as waste removal, vacuuming, emptying bins, and general cleaning of the working area. Cleaning activities should follow health and safety regulations if required.
- Use free typing techniques: Know, use and write documents, texts and content in general without looking at the keyboard. Use techniques to write documents in such fashion.
- Carry out internet research: Execute efficient search on the internet in order to gather relevant information and share it with others.
- Keep records of customer interaction: Recording details of inquiries, comments and complaints received from customers, as well as actions to be taken.
- Communicate with customer service department: Communicate with customer service in a transparent and collaborative manner; monitor how service is operating; relay real-time information to customers.
- Serve beverages: Provide a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages such as soft drinks, mineral waters, wine and bottled beer over a counter or using a tray.
- Ensure proper document management: Guarantee that the tracking and recording standards and rules for document management are followed, such as ensuring that changes are identified, that documents remain readable and that obsoleted documents are not used.
- Issue sales invoices: Prepare the invoice of goods sold or services provided, containing individual prices, the total charge, and the terms. Complete order processing for orders received via telephone, fax and internet and calculate the customer’s final bill.
- Draft corporate emails: Prepare, compile, and write mails with the adequate information and an appropriate language to make internal or external communications.
- Process customer orders: Handle orders placed by customers. Receive the customer order and define a list of requirements, a working process, and a time frame. Execute the work as planned.
- Use microsoft office: Possess the ability to work with the standard programs contained in Microsoft Office at a capable level. Create a document and do basic formatting, insert page breaks, create headers or footers, and insert graphics, create automatically generated tables of contents and merge form letters from a database of addresses (usually in Excel). Create auto-calculating spreadsheets, create images, and sort and filter data tables.
- Manage digital archives: Create and maintain computer archives and databases, incorporating latest developments in electronic information storage technology.
ISCO group and title
4110 – General office clerks
- Office clerk – ESCO
- General Office Clerks : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Featured image: Photo by Mikhail Nilov