Successful businesses rely heavily on top-notch administrative professionals. A shrewd administrative assistant is the wizard behind the company curtain, the one who keeps the office running efficiently. In addition, skilled administrators continuously look for new ways to lend support or make improvements to benefit the company.

The best administrative professionals aren't just supporting players. They add value in ways that make them critical to an organization's success.

What does it take to be the kind of administrative assistant businesses can't do without? Following are five exceptional qualities of an in-demand administrative professional.

Be an industry insider

Knowing the three T's of the industry — terminology, trends and technology — means, as a new hire, you can begin to contribute immediately. A savvy administrative professional is not only familiar with these concepts, but also knows how to use them to full advantage.

  • Terminology — Knowing the language of a particular business sector means an administrative assistant new to the company can keep up with and contribute to conversations in the workplace right from the start.
  • Trends — Today's administrative professionals should be knowledgeable about industrywide trends. They should also be thinking proactively about how these trends could potentially impact the company.
  • Technology — Employers prefer administrative professionals who are not only tech-savvy but also well-versed in the company's most-used technology. They look for individuals who proactively stay up to date through training so they can maximize these tools.

Fine-tune your technical prowess

Knowing how to use Microsoft Word, Outlook and Excel is a given for any administrative assistant. Knowing how to run virtual meetings, organize newsletters and create PowerPoint presentations puts you a cut above the rest. Managers also value assistants who know how to use accounting, payroll and HR applications.

An administrative assistant with a working knowledge of the ins and outs of social media is a huge asset for an employer. Small and midsize companies, in particular, sometimes need help managing a Facebook page or Twitter feed and may not have the resources to hire a social media specialist. Your knowledge of social media can help the company build its online presence, which is essential to staying in the game in today's market.

The best administrative professionals aren't just supporting players. They add value in a way that makes them critical to an organization's success.

Practice artful articulation

Good communication skills are crucial for a successful administrative assistant career. Most often, you're the first point of contact for clients, customers and vendors. You may also be the go-to person internally. The ability to communicate clearly, concisely and persuasively both verbally and in writing is a key skill hiring managers seek when evaluating top administrative professionals. Artful articulation helps you get results.

Keep your eye on the bottom line

Companies are always on the lookout for an administrative assistant who can find ways to save money and help the business become more efficient. You're on the front lines every day — overseeing day-to-day operations, selecting vendors and negotiating contracts — putting you in the perfect position to look for opportunities to cut expenses. Proposing cost-cutting solutions to those within the company is a good way to make yourself indispensable to the organization.

Think outside the administrative assistant box

Managers appreciate an administrative assistant who can think on his or her feet. Every day, new situations arise in the office requiring quick decisions and immediate action. Stretching your administrative capabilities beyond your job description to tackle the unexpected shows you're well-positioned to handle the complexities of today's workplace.