Five Ways to Grow Your Administrative Career

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Stay at the top of your game, and you’ll enjoy a long and satisfying career says Brandi Britton

In a new OfficeTeam survey, senior managers unanimously said support staff are important to their success. In fact, 64 percent of respondents said their administrative assistants play a very vital role. And when asked how much time their assistants saved them, the average was 101 minutes per day. That adds up to one full day per week.

Our survey asked managers to list the ways administrative staff have gone above and beyond their job description.

Here are some of their responses:

  • Analyzed data and identified potential clients for the company.
  • Trained fellow employees on technology tools.
  • Helped review resumes, post jobs and organize interviews.
  • Mentored new employees.
  • Worked with the HR team to set candidate compensation packages and send offer letters.

Taking your administrative role up a notch

Scheduling meetings and organizing travel will always have a place in your job description. But to advance your career, you may need to hone and expand your skill set. Of the senior managers surveyed, 75 percent said the responsibilities of administrative professionals have increased since five years ago.

Here are five ways to become an even more valued member of the team:

1. Gain business acumen.

You need to have a deep understanding of your organization, its various departments and the field in which the company operates. To become more knowledgeable, you have to be curious. Talk to tenured employees about the firm’s history. Subscribe to relevant blogs, newsletters and magazines. Attend industry meetings and conferences. Network with peers in other departments. Get to know not only your clients, but the competitors as well. In short, business acumen helps you become an insider.

2. Position yourself as a tech specialist.

Microsoft Office proficiency is a common requirement in most administrative job descriptions today. To gain more skills, consider attaining a Microsoft Office Specialist certification. Don’t overlook the importance of Google products — Drive, Maps, Mail and Calendar, to name a few — as many businesses use these cloud-based collaboration and productivity tools.

Professional social media and SEO experience can also boost your career, as most small to midsize companies don’t have a person dedicated to their blog or accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites.

3. Become savvier about finances.

Many administrative professionals already handle travel reimbursements and expense reports. But you must also get smart about databases and data analysis, budgeting, accounts receivable/accounts payable (AR/AP), payroll and basic bookkeeping. This is especially true if you aspire to become an office manager or project manager. A combination of training, an associate or a bachelor’s degree, and workplace experience should suffice

4. Maximize on-the-job learning.

Make the most of your existing position to gain additional hard and soft skills. Is there an executive you admire? Pay attention to how she networks, leads meetings and communicates with colleagues. Sign up for any professional development workshops your company provides. Volunteer to speak in front of a group or to lead a service project. Learn from interdepartmental colleagues. Your current position is a prime training ground for your next job or promotion.

5. Build your EQ.

Can you read nonverbal cues and modify your behavior accordingly? Are you able to effectively manage your own emotions? Administrative specialists need plenty of emotional intelligence (EQ) to juggle priorities, soothe angry clients, keep proprietary information confidential and get the job done.

Today’s administrative and executive assistants are more than supporting staff. They are essential collaborators and contributors. Know that you’re a key player in your organization. At the same time, don’t become complacent. Stay at the top of your game, and you’ll likely enjoy a long and satisfying career.

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About Author

Brandi Britton

Brandi Britton is District President for Office Team (www.officeteam.com), the world’s largest specialised staffing firm for office professionals. OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide, which place tens of thousands of highly skilled candidates each year into positions ranging from executive and personal assistant to receptionist and customer service specialist. Brandi is a frequent speaker on employment issues and has been interviewed by the media on workplace topics.

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