As we have discussed there are many different paths Assistants can take to accelerate their career progression and some, more than others, have challenges. Seeking a promotion in your current role can be challenging.
Although it is often tricky for Assistants to move up in the organisation they work in, it is worth exploring. Why work for a company, pour your energy and time into helping it succeed without the reward and recognition that others in the organisation are receiving?
I’ve met a lot of very successful Assistants who have worked extremely hard to prove that they can take on additional work and eventually have worked their way up the corporate ladder but have encountered more obstacles than many of their colleagues because of their Assistant job title.
So, we know it can be done, we’ve all seen examples of Assistants who have moved on from their role into that of an Executive. How do we take those first steps when accelerating your Assistant career path and progression. Here are a few tips:
Understand the bigger picture
You may focus all of your attention on one Executive or a small team, but your role will bring you into contact with the company’s decision-makers.
You are privy to their conversations and how they come to make decisions.
Ensure you listen to these people and build up your knowledge of the company and also your overall business acumen.
If you know why decisions are made in the organisation, then you can start to make choices about your everyday work following the same strategy as the Executive team.
When it comes to your review, you can demonstrate to your manager that not only do you understand the company’s strategy, you are implementing it into your work by thinking strategically.
Using your network
It is incredible how quickly Assistants can establish a network when working in a new organisation.
It is relatively easy to get to know everyone quickly because of your relationship with your manager.
Most people in the company want to know who the Assistant is and how to best to work with them because they work so closely with the decision-makers.
Use this to your advantage.
Be the person everyone wants to know.
Be helpful, look professional and capable. If you are approachable, it is more likely that colleagues will ask you to work with them on projects outside of your usual remit.
Also, ask lots of questions and be interested in what your colleagues are doing and the work they do. Ask how their work contributes to the overall success of the team and your Executive’s involvement.
Ask for additional responsibilities
As the saying goes ‘everything is figureoutable’. If you want to fast track your Executive career, you will have to ask for other duties and take on the dynamic projects that are visible and get you noticed. Yes, of course, keep on top of your day-to-day work and ensure you are available to provide the necessary support for your Executive. But if you feel confident and you are capable – always be asking for additional responsibilities.
Ask for extra work and tell your manager that you want extra work in areas that interest you specifically.
This has to be your touchstone if you want a promotion.
You have to get to a point where your company does not want to let you go because you are invaluable and valuable.
In other words, it is in their best interest to keep you happy and fulfilled in what you do.
I know this is easier said than done, but it is achievable.
How do you do this?
Well firstly know everything there is to know about your immediate work, your Executive, your team and your other colleagues. Understand how everything works and where everything is. That is the fundamental level of being invaluable.
Next, you have to know your worth and communicate it regularly. This could take some time but get the basics right (all the time), ask for more work, ask lots of good questions, be smart and professional. Meet with your Executive regularly and let them know precisely what you are doing to support them and the organisation.
Once you have mastered this, you will be invaluable to the company as an Assistant, and they should see that you can be valuable in other areas of the business.
Flexible job titles
This is a quick way of ensuring you have the flexibility to move outside of an Assistant role.
When you start a new role ask that your job title is dual purpose, for example, in a previous position, I was Personal Assistant and Administrative Manager.
This made it a lot easier for my Executive to justify pay increases with the HR department because I did have a ‘Manager’ title.
Another example of a dual-title would be EA and Business Support. Again, this is a title that may give you more flexibility with which to negotiate pay raises and promotions.
Remember it often doesn’t matter how good you are at your job if you are boxed into a particular grade or role. Unfair but true.
I do think it is harder for assistants to get promoted than other professions but if we keep believing in our worth and abilities, that is half the battle. The next stage is to work hard and stand out, so that your employer recognises your potential and worth to the company.