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Use Your Admin Position as a Stepping-Stone

Use Your Admin Position as a Stepping-Stone

Make the Move with These Tips

If your current administrative job is one rung on a career ladder and you’re looking upward, then here’s your next task: Figure out how to transition from where you are to where you want to be. Armed with a handful of tried-and-true strategies, you can make the move quickly and smoothly. Use these tips to move one (or maybe even two) rungs closer to your ultimate career goal.   

Come to the Rescue

One of the best ways to gain experience or showcase your skills is to get someone out of a professional jam using your considerable admin talents, suggests Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist: New Rules for Success.

“Take on a messy project and straighten it out,” says Trunk, a former admin. “People notice you when you get them out of trouble. And if you save someone's day, they'll want to return the favor. They'll help you with the networking and office politics that are invariably involved in a promotion.”

Recast Your Abilities

It’s also helpful to look at yourself through the lens of an HR person and recast your current admin skills and capabilities, as well as your personality traits, in the language of your future job. Highlighting these transferable skills makes it easier for hiring managers to see you as a strong candidate.

“Let’s say you decide you want to move into customer support and learn that two key skills are speed -- resolving challenges quickly -- and empathy -- walking in the customer’s shoes,” says William Arruda, president of Reach Personal Branding in New York. “You need to identify everything you’ve done in your current role where you were demonstrating those skills. You might highlight the time you pulled together a meeting for your manager and six others in just one day. And you could elaborate on how you use empathy in dealing with your department’s salespeople at month’s end.”

Show Your Hand

Take another hard look at your current job description, says Carla Hall, who has moved from admin to manager -- and back again -- several times during her career and currently is a trading assistant with Credit Suisse. “Make sure that your performance objectives give the appearance of one who is ready to be promoted,” she advises. Work with your supervisor to create objectives that allow you to take on more responsibility, master new skills and show a trend toward growth and development.

“Highlight the value that you add above and beyond your admin role,” adds Hall. “Be sure to mention any projects where you saved the company money and time. Feature achievements that show that you took the initiative and solved problems without being asked. Also include business-related courses taken, as well as volunteer projects that you initiated on behalf of your department or firm.”

Hall keeps a highlight file of all the great things she’s done over the year so she has the information handy should she seek a promotion.

Work Your Network

It’s always a good idea to let key people know of your desire for a promotion. “But just saying, ‘I’d like to move up’ isn’t helpful to the employer,” says Billie Blair, president/CEO of Leading and Learning in San Bernardino, California. “Be specific as to your next position of interest.”

Adds Trunk: “Leverage the fact that you deal with high-level people who make real decisions about promotions. If they know that you're great at your job, they can help you get a promotion into a department that they might not even work in.”

Audit and Develop Your Skills

If you want to move into management, audit your skills to make sure you’ve got what it takes before you go looking. According to Blair, the required competencies for managers include:  

  • Supervisory responsibility for other people. 
  • Report writing. 
  • Office management/procurement. 
  • Public speaking
“These are in addition to the other responsibilities of the job,” Blair says. “With a proven track record in these areas, you will be well-poised to seek positions up the corporate ladder.”

Coming up short? Don’t worry. Volunteer for projects at work that will help you develop these skills, or find opportunities with community organizations to hone your capabilities.

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