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12 Challenges Administrative Assistants Face

12 Challenges Administrative Assistants Face

Administrative assistant positions are found in almost every industry. Whether it’s finance, mining, legal, film, and/or retail, this position can be extremely demanding, and definitely deserves some recognition. Some might believe that being an administrative assistant is easy. That’s not the case, administrative assistants work extremely hard. They are educated individuals, who have charming personalities, and can pretty much do anything.

1. They Can Be Forced To Deal With Difficult Personalities

Most administrative assistants have had to deal with a lot of personalities coming in and out of the office space. Generally, these people will be pleasant, while others will be ticking time-bombs throbbing with compressed anger, ready to unleash on the polite administrative assistant.

When dealing with a difficult personality, admin staff usually have a witty charm about them. They can help the heated individual calm down and gain confidence in the company once again, by providing trust and reassuring the angry individual that all will be resolved as soon as possible.

2. They Can Be Seen As Someone Of Lesser Importance

Somehow, the administrative assistant position has been classified as a starting position for most companies. What most people don’t understand is that being an administrative assistant is a professional career in which people can excel.

Administrative assistants are so proud of their careers, their knowledge, and their humbleness, that it’s easy for them to simply brush off anyone who questions their plan for career advancement. They know how important their role is, and how they bring growth to the company they work for.

3. They Can Be Expected To Clean Up After Everyone

You would think with an office full of grown adults, that people would know how to clean up after themselves. Admin staff know that their job requires many nurturing duties, but they also know that they have a problem, when they start finding banana peels left to decay on the boardroom floor.

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Administrative assistants deal with messy co-workers by simply placing posters and signs reflecting their co-worker`s unethical workplace hygiene. They may not always call out an individual directly, but the message is clear, dirty dishes left on the kitchen counter and candy wrappers on the floor will not be tolerated.

4. They Can Be Expected To Fix Anything And Everything

Did you know that administrative assistants are IT technicians as well? They are expected to fix internet problems, connect employees to network printers, help with software, and then go back to filing paperwork and answering multiple phone lines. Not to mention the amount of times they’ve had to lug leaky garbage bags to the dumpster, change exploding toner bottles in the photo copier, refill empty ink pads and pens, pull old banker boxes from the dusty storage, and more.

Administrative assistants are not certified plumbers, electricians, or technicians of any kind. Yet, they find a way to solve the problem at hand with their amazing problem-solving skills and physical abilities.

5. They Can Be Expected To Know Everything, Even When Not Included In Meetings And Private Conversations

There are meetings and conference calls all day, in which they are not included in. Yet, they are expected to know what’s going on at all times.

Despite their inabilities to make executive decisions, they know more information than the typical employee. They are an information hub. This is because they have mastered the act of ease dropping, asking the right questions, and piecing bits of information together to obtain the right answers. Basically, they are all detectives.

6. They Can Be Blamed For Anything That Goes Wrong

They may not be the decision maker, but when everything goes awry, all fingers point to them as the culprit, or at least it’s their responsibility to solve the issue.

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To avoid being accused or blamed for anything, administrative assistants log their work day. They write everything down and create a systematic paper trail for themselves to cover their schedule from start to end, just in case of an unexpected hiccup.

7. They Can Be Expected To Always Be Available

Sometimes, administrative assistants eat as they work. They can be mid-bite into their lunch when they are approached by a co-worker about an upcoming meeting, broken internet connection, or even a flooded toilet.

Knowing when to draw the line is half the battle, because some co-workers can make a situation sound so much more urgent than it really is. For their own benefit, administrative assistants learn to make judgement calls based on the situation at hand. They will always agree to address the problem, but sometimes they decide that after lunch works best for them.

8. They Can Have Their Desk Used As A Dumping Station

They love the feeling of making a huge dent in their work pile, but if they walk away for just a moment, they are sure to be welcomed back by additional paperwork sitting in their inbox.

To keep up with steady incoming work, they sort and manage everything in categories and then prioritize them. Administrative assistants are extremely organized and know how to keep a productive workflow to handle large loads of labor.

9. They Can Have No Privacy

Being the assistant to pretty much everyone means that their desk is a free for all for those they work with. They are the keeper of keys, passwords, stationary, supplies and the great all might candy drawer.

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To keep their space to themselves, they develop homes for all company property outside of their personal bubble. Anything that is personal is kept far away in an opposing corner such as car keys, wallet, and cell phone.

10. They Can Lack Physical Activity

Someday, there’s too many emails, and too much paperwork piling into their inbox to even walk away. Sometimes, they may even sacrifice taking a break or lunch to complete a job.

Administrative assistants have such a great work ethic: they can easily multitask and work harder to find extra time during their day for a refreshing walk outside.

11. They Can Sometimes Be The Butt Of The Office Jokes

When administrative assistants make a mistake, which can happen, they are sometimes the butt of all jokes for the rest of the day.

To deal with mockery, they just chime in with everyone else and laugh at their own mistakes. They know that being able to admit their flaws and to learn from them is a sign of great leadership.

12. They Can Be Under Paid And Feel Unappreciated

The status of an administrative assistant position is debatable depending on the point of view it’s looked at. With the work-load of a hundred people, they are sometimes paid as if they are at the bottom of the totem pole.

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Sometimes their employers are so busy themselves, that the admin staff need to bring up the fact that a raise should be addressed. Sometimes employers forget how much their administrative assistants have done for the company, and they should be appreciated regularly.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

1. Cloud Computing

“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

3. Data Management

All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

4. Scheduling

Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

5. Financial Skills

These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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6. Research Skills

These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

7. Marketing Skills

While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

8. Network Security Specialist

Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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9. Communication Skills

At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

10. Computer Programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

11. Graphic Design

As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

The Bottom Line

We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
[2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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