If you aspire to great things in your career, take action now says Catherine Middleton
Careers are a fluid, changing, dynamic path incorporating all aspects of our lives. The decisions we make at work affect us on many fronts: our relationships, our physical wellbeing, our level of self confidence, and of course our ability to earn. It is therefore important to set our minds on what is achievable now.
Take the time to take stock. What is it you really want? If the answer is to have a meaningful career, then you need to actively manage it. Where do you want your career to be in 12 months, 2 years and beyond? How can you reinvigorate your career?
If you are inspired to make changes, there are several ways to boost your career prospects:
Anticipate future directions or trends in your industry
It is important to understand and be conversant with the issues affecting the business. An executive assistant is often seen as the ‘font of all knowledge’ and, by understanding the business, can excel in the contributions made to executives and consequently the organisation.
Know who to deal with to keep abreast of current issues
Who are the main players? What is their territory? How does the company interact with them? This is invaluable knowledge when dealing with high flyers. Understanding these issues will allow quality interactions. Knowledge is certainly powerful and being able to make decisions based on that knowledge would be well regarded by any executive.
Be technically proficient
Being proficient in software programs is paramount to being effective. Having Microsoft Office to an advanced level will allow you to take on projects where specific technical expertise is required. Spreadsheets to manage budgets, and project management software, will open up many opportunities for advancement. Outlook and tasks have multiple facets to ensure efficiencies for every assistant; updating these skills will ensure a high level of professionalism is maintained. In return, your executive will rely on you, their assistant, to manage their office and know that it will be done in a highly professional manner.
Every opportunity to embrace new skills should be undertaken enthusiastically as it will add ‘strings to your bow’. Why not negotiate professional development opportunities with your manager? You may be pleasantly surprised that they will not only support your involvement, but also foot the bill.
Most important is setting career goals and finding ways to work towards achieving them. Seeking out further educational opportunities such as undertaking a certificate or diploma will also show your willingness to grow in your role; and it makes for great reading on an updated CV.
Broaden responsibilities within your role or volunteer
Negotiate with your executive about participating in working groups, or being involved in projects, where you can become an integral member of a team. This will broaden your experience and add value to your team as you offer another perspective to the project.
Supervision of support staff plus having responsibility for their Continual Professional Development
The role of supervisor sometimes comes with the territory of being an executive assistant. Working in an already exceptionally busy role can at times make it difficult to be responsible for someone else and their productivity. It is a special person who is able to manage their executive, the executive office, staff that report to them, their own role and continue to be cool, calm and collected – all at the same time. It is also important to understand the level of expertise of staff so that professional development opportunities can be offered which will see them grow into productive contributors to the team.
Flexibility and Versatility
Any executive that has a positive, flexible and versatile assistant, is usually a happy one, as they know that they can rely on their EA’s expertise and know that they will be professional in every aspect of the role.
If you aspire to great things in your career, then don’t procrastinate; take the action, and take it now. Never ever give up, life is for living, and that should include living your dream.