Niches for Administrative Professionals

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Alyssa Towns explores niches for administrative professionals in the changing career landscape

As the corporate workforce continues to undergo significant disruptions and changes in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise that those working in executive support roles have experienced shifts in their day-to-day functions. These roles have historically included scheduling travel and organizing complex itineraries, managing calendars, scheduling meetings, and preparing documents on behalf of the designated executive or executive team. Whilst undeniably valuable, these day-to-day responsibilities have changed due to the Coronavirus lockdown, for most, if not all, support roles in some capacity.

What Does the Future Look Like?

With executive teams traveling less or not traveling at all, companies committing to working from home for the unforeseeable future, and the disparate virtual connection between executives and their Assistants, this begs the question as to what the future looks like for support roles on the career landscape.

Assistants may be asking themselves questions such as:

  • Does less visibility and facetime in the office with my executive mean I won’t have a job anymore?
  • Has my executive become more self-sufficient during the lockdown, and now they don’t need as much help from me?
  • How will my workload be impacted without having to book travel now and less of it in the future?
  • What value can I contribute while remote that might be different from the value I provide when in office?

Adding Value Post-Pandemic

Adam Fidler, Principal of Adam Fidler Academy, suggests that executives will travel less and may become more self-sufficient. Additionally, Fidler predicts that Assistants will need to prove how they can add organizational value beyond their administrative duties. Further, Rohit Talwar and his colleagues at Fast Future, a research and insights business, suggests that artificial intelligence will replace some of the tasks that EAs, PAs, and other support professionals perform as part of their daily responsibilities as we approach 2025, thus causing a shift in the administrative industry. If this is the case, administrative professionals will need to find different ways to prove how valuable they are to an organization. One way to do so is by finding a niche to specialize in as part of their career trajectory.

Developing Your Existing Skills

Assistants often develop a wide variety of skills and qualities over time, including organizational, strategic planning, event management, project management, attention to detail, and the ability to serve as an ambassador for the organization, to name a few. Depending on the length of service, administrative professionals often learn the business’s ins and outs, having both a bird’s eye view and an insider’s look across multiple teams and departments. The unique nature and exposure of the administrative role offer many opportunities to niche down and choose a career path to develop a more specialized skill set or add a specific skill set to one’s administrative playbook.

If you’re an administrative professional looking to pivot and grow your skills beyond the generalized administrative realm, lean on the skills you’ve already developed to help you do so. Here are five areas to niche down and level up in, along with some resources to help you get started.

Marketing

Using an administrative role as a stepping stone into marketing is often a logical next step for administrative professionals due to the level of exposure to the business they’ve had. A well-trained administrative professional should be able to explain what his/her organization does, how they do it, and why they’re the best at it. Knowing these critical aspects of a business can allow an administrative professional to become a valued asset on the marketing team.

Some of the transferable skills and qualities that EAs/PAs/support professionals have that are in entry-level marketing job descriptions include:

  • Organization skills
  • Communication skills, written and oral
  • Preparing, formatting, and editing various types of documents and materials
  • Analyzing and organizing research
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving
  • Close attention to detail

If a pivot to the marketing department sounds like your next move, here are a few educational resources worth considering to help you build your marketing toolkit:

Marketing on LinkedIn Learning (Beginner level courses)

Marketing courses on Udemy (Beginner level courses)

Google Digital Garage online courses (Beginner level courses)

Marketing courses on Coursera (Beginner level courses)

Human Resources (HR)

Due to being privy to and handling confidential information, HR is another area where administrative professionals can thrive. Sound judgment and the utmost amount of discretion are crucial components of all successful HR employees.

Some of the transferable skills and qualities that EAs/Pas/support professionals have that are in entry-level HR descriptions include:

  • Providing customer service to all members of the organization
  • Scheduling and arranging meetings including orientations for new hires
  • Organizational skills for record maintenance
  • Communication skills, written and verbal
  • Beingdependable

If you’re thinking about pivoting to HR or working alongside the HR department, here are a few educational resources worth considering to help you build your HR toolkit:

Resources, training & certifications through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Human Resources on LinkedIn Learning (Beginner level courses)

Human Resources courses on Udemy (Beginner level courses)

Human Resources courses on Coursera

Event Management

Many assistants are involved in, if not solely responsible for, coordinating and executing company-wide events. I’ve planned events for 10 to 300 people during my career thus far, ranging from informal happy hours to formal holiday parties. In my career, event planning has allowed me to tap into my strengths and natural coordination abilities.

Some of the transferable skills and qualities that EAs/PAs/support professionals have that are in entry-level marketing job descriptions include:

  • Coordinating logistics and services with vendors and other internal stakeholders
  • Managing and maintaining positive relationships with vendors
  • Budget management
  • Communication skills
  • Quick problem-solving

If you’re interested in niching down in event planning, here are a few educational resources worth considering to help you build your event planning toolkit:

Event Planning courses on Udemy (Beginner level courses)

Event Planning courses on Skillshare

Event Planning courses on LinkedIn Learning

Event Planning certifications: Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP), Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP), and Certification in Exhibition Management (CEM)

Project Management

It’s no secret that many administrative professionals serve as unofficial (or perhaps are officially certified) project managers in their support roles. Colleagues know they can lean on their administrative professionals to guide a project from start to finish while ensuring that all details are taken care of along the way.

Some of the transferable skills and qualities that EAs/PAs/support professionals have that are in entry-level project management job descriptions include:

  • Creating and maintain comprehensive documentation as it relates to project planning
  • Establishing and maintain relationships with key stakeholders and clients
  • Ensuring that projects get delivered on time and stay on track
  • Tracking project performance, drafting reports to update leadership teams
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills, written and verbal

If you’re interested in niching down in project management, here are a few educational resources worth considering to help you build your project management toolkit:

Resources and readings on The Project Management Hut

Association for Project Management (APM)

Project Management Institute (PMI)Project Management for Beginners course

Project Management courses on Udemy (Beginner level courses)

Fundamentals of Project Management by Joseph Heagney

Change Management 

Because administrative professionals have learned the ins and outs of their organization, understand the company culture, and have worked with individuals across the organization, they’re often well-positioned to provide change management support. Change management collectively refers to a structured approach that prepares and equips organizational members to adopt processes, workflows, and other changes to drive organizational successes and objectives.

Some of the transferable skills and qualities that EAs/PAs/support professionals have that are in entry-level change management job descriptions include:

  • Conducting research and analyze workflow processes to identify areas for improvement
  • Assisting with the creation and development of methods, tools, and templates for day-to-day operations across the organization
  • Leading and facilitating meetings with stakeholders to identify their needs to incorporate them into operational workflows while being mindful of current company culture
  • Organizing and coordinating project plans, and support resource planning

If you’re interested in niching down in change management, here are a few educational resources worth considering to help you build your change management toolkit:

Prosci

Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP)

Change Management courses on LinkedIn Learning (Beginner level courses)

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management

The disruptions and changes to the corporate workforce are creating an opportunity for administrative professionals to take on more responsibilities and specialize in areas that reflect their strengths and continue to provide unrivaled support to organizations in many different capacities.

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About Author

Alyssa Towns (Swantkoski)

Alyssa Towns (Swantkoski) is a multi-passionate Business Operations Specialist at Adswerve, Inc. by day, writer and creative enthusiast by night. She previously served as the first and only Executive Assistant at Adswerve, Inc., and has served 15+ C-suite executives throughout her career thus far. She takes pride in her ability to bridge the gap between employers and their employees through employee engagement initiatives. Alyssa also served as a 2020 Advisory Board Member for The Admin Awards Denver Metro area. Stay caught up with Alyssa at wordswithalyssa.com.

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