Whether you are preparing for an interview or writing your CV, it is important to consider what skills and qualities employers look for in candidates. I often advise candidates who are starting their CoSec career to highlight the buzzwords in job descriptions and utilise these in their own CV’s if they feel they possess the same skills. This is a great way to demonstrate to a client that you fit the criteria for the role on offer.
I recently went through 15 job descriptions for Trainee Company Secretary roles from the past 12 months and identified the top 10 most common buzzwords/phrases that appeared when employers described their “ideal candidate”. I am hoping that the list below (ranked from least to most common occurrence) provides an insight into what skills and qualities are valued most within this sector.
10th – “Self-motivated” / “Highly motivated”
Clients often look for candidates who are highly motivated and strive for continuous self-improvement, primarily as they want to invest their time and resources in individuals who will add value to the team and help the function develop and improve over time.
9th – “Time management”
Being able to manage your time effectively is a crucial skill for being a company secretary, as the role often requires you to balance multiple tasks at one time and meet various deadlines in a constricted time period.
8th – “The ability to interact with individuals at all levels of the business”.
Whether it be within your own team, or with directors, clients, or external stakeholders, being able to work with individuals at all levels of a business is a fundamental element of a company secretarial role.
7th – “Computer literacy” / “Strong IT skills”
Being proficient with Microsoft Office, being able to write and send professional emails, and being able to learn and adapt to using new software’s are a great advantage when starting your first CoSec position.
6th – “Drive/enthusiasm & commitment to the Cosec Profession and to complete the ICSA qualification (if not completed)”
This one sounds obvious, but you need to be able to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the profession and the company for which you are applying! It’s imperative that you are prepared to answer the question of why you want to enter the industry, and what interests you about the company you are interviewing for.
5th – “Willing to get stuck in” / “Open minded and flexible approach”.
As a trainee CoSec you will be exposed to many aspects of an organisation and the day-to-day running of their governance function. Having a can-do attitude and being willing to try new things will go a long way with impressing future employers!
4th - “Strong verbal and written communication skills”
It may be a Cliché, but communication is key! Being able to express yourself both verbally and on paper is certainly important in the world of governance.
3rd – “Work well as part of a Team”
It’s imperative that you can work as part of a team as a trainee company secretary. You need to be able to build relationships with your colleagues, as they will need to be able to rely on you to meet deadlines and assist with various tasks, both standard and ad-hoc.
2nd – “Attention to detail”
Detail is key! This appeared in all but one job description I reviewed. The role of a trainee CoSec often involves writing reports and relaying important information to individuals across the business. Candidates must be able to produce high quality documents and be capable of responding to requests efficiently to a high standard.
1st – “Great organisational skills and the ability to prioritise”.
In first place, appearing in 15/15 job descriptions, is organisational skills and having the ability to prioritise tasks. This is a crucial element to any cosec role, whether you are starting out as a trainee or leading a team as a group company secretary! Being organised and being able to plan your day efficiently will able you to meet deadlines and help manage your workload.
If you have any questions on how to write your CV or tackle interview preparation, please do not hesitate to contact me or another member of the CoSec team here at DMJ.