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Working in a job as an administrative assistant or secretary can seem like being in a dead-end position. If you’ve worked as someone’s secretary for some time, you may start to wonder: beyond answering the phone, fixing your boss’s schedule and greeting clients, is there any bigger, more exciting challenge that such a job can offer?
First of all, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that you play an essential role not only to your boss but to the company as a whole. Secretaries and admin assistants are the rock upon which a business is founded, enabling each team member to get the job done. Lots of companies would fall apart without the admin assistant holding it all together.
Secondly, being an admin assistant gives you a front-row seat to the inner workings of the business. You get to see firsthand how your boss goes about his/her responsibilities in ways that nobody else in your company can. Channeled properly, all that information you’re exposed to can be used to further your own career.
Developing your secretarial skills further will not only make you a more valued member of the team but also allow you to use your administrative assistant position to propel you to your ultimate career goal. Here are ways to realize these ideals.
It’s important to have a strong background in digital tools that can make your work easier. Microsoft Office tools like Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook, as well as Google programs like Drive, Mail, Maps, and Calendar are part of the basics, but depending on your responsibilities, it can also help immensely to be familiar with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, SEO, and even social media. Many small and medium businesses need these skills, but often do not have the budget to hire a dedicated specialist in these areas. Armed with exceptional talent in these areas of tech, you effectively make yourself indispensable.
Having a strong business acumen lets you see the big picture and create better solutions that benefit the business. To develop a good sense for business, you need to improve your analytical abilities, uphold logical thinking and remain calm and focused in the face of challenging tasks. Research more about the company and its market. Get to know not only its customers but the competitors as well. Learn at every turn and embrace your work with a curious mind.
Be more curious about your company’s cash flow and learn as much as you can. Get smart about budgeting, payroll, overheads, taxes, and basic bookkeeping. Request financial training if possible. The fact is that all businesses are indeed for profit, and if you can help the company earn money, then your boss will be more inclined to give you more responsibility and opportunities to grow.
As an admin assistant, you are often the crucial link between your boss, the employees/team members, clients, suppliers, upper management, and more. This means you need to hone your communication skills to razor-sharp perfection. Oral, written, or electronic—all types of communication are important to your work. The first step to being an effective communicator? Be a good listener. Ask for clarification to ensure proper understanding of instructions and correspondence. Also, learn how to read people and what they’re really saying beyond their words. When you’re a good listener, you reduce the potential for communication errors and achieve a stronger relationship with those around you. Likewise, you also discover different points of view to broaden your perspective and retain more useful information that you can apply to your life and career success.
The ability to adapt and roll with the punches is a necessary skill to have for an administrative assistant professional. Business conditions can change in an instant, and you need to be able to confidently and adaptively handle setbacks. Like any skill, resourcefulness requires practice to cultivate. By developing your resourcefulness, you become solution-oriented instead of problem-oriented, and in the process, you save time, money, energy, and more. This brings priceless rewards not only to the company but your own personal growth and advancement as well.
When you have well-developed resourcefulness skills, the ability to anticipate problems before they present themselves or get bigger becomes second-nature. The greater vision you have about the types of problem you might face, the more prepared you will be to solve them.
If you have a job to do, you have to do it well. Regardless of how you may feel about that particular responsibility or project handed to you, make sure your performance results reflect someone who is ready to move up in the ladder. Act above and beyond your admin role, and work with your boss to create opportunities that allow you to master new skills, take on weightier responsibilities, and develop a path toward development and growth.
As the one in charge of coordinating most if not all your boss’s functions and responsibilities, both in and outside work, you may start to feel that you’re spreading yourself too thin. To make sure your work quality doesn’t suffer, it’s crucial that you have good time management. Plan your tasks while taking into consideration how long each task will take so that your efforts are properly allocated.
Learning is not always about theoretical approaches and trying to apply new knowledge and skills into your work. Rather, learning should be practiced constantly. Identify the hard and soft admin assistant skills and competencies that you want to learn and find out how you can acquire them, whether it’s signing up for a professional development workshop, leading a project or coordinating different groups. Your position as an admin assistant is an ideal training ground for your next job or promotion.
Think you have what it takes to progress from being an administrative assistant or secretary? Let us help you find the right job opportunity where you can evolve into the person you want to be.