10 Ways for Administrative Assistants to Get Ahead

If you have just graduated with a diploma as an Administrative Assistant and are starting your first job, here are 10 ways you can get ahead in your career.

  1. Learn about the company and the industry

As an example, the oil and gas sector has a number of unique regulations, business models and other complexities that Oil and Gas Administrative Assistants need to have a basic understanding of.  It is important to have a basic understanding of the complete cycle, from exploration to drilling, through to the refining and processing phase and to distribution.  This holds true for any industry.

Do you know what your company’s mission statement is?  Do you know what services or products your company offers and who their client’s are?  You’d be surprised how many people don’t take the time to learn about their company.  They often say, “oh I’m just the receptionist…..” There is no such thing as “just the receptionist”!  Everyone plays an important role in the company’s operation; otherwise the company wouldn’t need them!

Know your company’s mission statement and how you can ensure you are doing everything you can to support it. For instance, if the organization believes in community giving, volunteer for charitable activities.

Learn about your company by visiting the company website, read the senior management team bios and learn about the company’s history.  Know the company policies by reading the employee handbook and the company newsletters.  If possible, get involved in publishing the newsletter or provide feedback on items of interest.  Keep up with what is happening in your company by reading press releases or investor news if the company is publicly traded.  Join your company’s LinkedIn profile; follow the Twitter and Facebook pages.  These are excellent places to learn what’s happening in your company and in the industry.

  1. Know the people you work with

As a new administrative assistant, its important for you to know who people are and what they do.  Schedule a few minutes with each person and learn a little bit about them. 

Find out what their title is and what they are responsible for.  Who are the important people they interact with, whether it be a client, a business associate or even someone personal.  Know who they should “be found” for.

Would they like to see certain things done differently or are there processes they absolutely do not want to see changed.  Do they have preferred ways for you to answer their calls, deal with meeting and calendar requests and visitors.  Find out what their current concerns are and suggest ways you can make improvements.

  1. Set up your work space

To be the most productive, one must have the right tools and equipment.  Learn how to maximize those tools and keep your desk organized and uncluttered as possible.  This will not only help you find things quickly and easily, but lets others know you are efficient and capable.  Make your workspace your own, but be careful not to overdo it with personal items and mementos. 

Document your work processes in the event you are out sick or on vacation.  The person who has to cover for you while you are away should easily know where files are kept, what the daily procedures are and how to reach key personnel if they are out of the office.

If you are responsible for confidential information, let your managers know where things are located, what the passwords are etc.

  1. Be Respectful

This may sound like something out of the 50's, but good manners never go out of style.  Smiling and being pleasant to be around earns you a reputation of being worthy to promote.  While one’s skills are very important, their personal demeanor is too.  If you give respect, you will have earned it in return.

  1. Set Goals

Once you have met with other team members, review the information and see what their needs are and how you can contribute.  Your goal should be to improve your skills and meet the needs of the company thus making yourself more valuable to the organization. 

  1. Network Internally

While it can be difficult to meet senior managers at a large company, introduce yourself to their assistant.  Meeting with the other administrative assistants puts you in touch with many years of experience; they will be able to help you solve a problem somewhere down the line.  Try to get to know as many people as possible.

  1. Network Outside the Company

Meet people inside or outside your industry by joining networking groups for lunches/dinners or through LinkedIn.

  1. Always dress professionally, even while on a budget

Know the company dress code and follow it.  Some may have a tendency to dress only for comfort but depending on the industry and environment, a wardrobe which projects professionalism is the safest choice. Define your style, but ensure it matches the image your company is trying to project.  Also remember the fit is important. The way a piece of clothing fits you will have you carrying yourself with confidence; feeling that you are looking your best has a positive impact on your mood.

  1. Improve your life by using your company’s benefit plan

If you’ve always worn contacts and glasses and want corrective eye surgery, many vision plans cover at least a portion of laser eye surgery.  Dental plans cover all or part of routine dental care and half of major dental work.  Some companies negotiate reduced fees at nearby gym, or offer to pay a percentage of gym fees, so use this opportunity to make your health a priority.

Participate in your company’s retirement savings plan as soon as you are eligible.  Take advantage of your company’s matching program and start saving as soon as possible.

  1. Continue your education

Invest in yourself and continue your education.  Some companies offer tuition reimbursement or find other low cost options you can pursue. Take as many seminars, workshops, conferences or college courses that you are entitled to.  Remember, the more you learn the more you will earn! Join associations and organizations that are geared towards helping you advance your career by keeping you up to date on trends and offering helpful career advice.

Find websites related to your career and see if there are forums or message boards to help you connect with people with similar jobs.

There are websites that provide free online training in areas such as computer skills, writing, and even foreign language.

Some colleges offer low cost Continuing Ed courses that are offered evenings or on weekends.  Add yourself to their mailing list so you can find out what will be offered.

Consider an online diploma or degree program.  The advantages of taking credit courses online are the flexibility and the access you will have to all types of programs, it doesn’t matter where you live!