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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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Published on June 5, 2018

Is It Time for a Career Change? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps

Is It Time for a Career Change? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance . Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to make it happen for a more fulfilling life.

Signs that you need a career change

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Why a career change is good for you

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

Common mistakes of people making a career change

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. What is your situation?

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  • Desire for an increase of salary: The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time. At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.
  • Overnight decision: Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.
  • Rejected for a promotion: I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.
  • Bored at work: Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization. Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Now that you had a chance to review your work situation and none of these recommendations can help, it is time to take the next step.

How to make the change for a successful career (Step-by-step)

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a career plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh your options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job, in the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be real about the pros and cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that are impacting the current situation.

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A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

4. Find a mentor

A mentor that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

  • What is required to be successful in the role?
  • What certification or educational development is needed?
  • What are the challenges of the role?
  • Is there potential for career advancement?

A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: A Good Mentor Is Hard to Find: What to Look for in a Mentor

5. Research salary

Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

6. Be realistic

If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

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Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

7. Volunteer first

A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

8. Prepare your career tools

I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

  • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
  • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
  • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.

Final thoughts

It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will discover the role that is the best fit with your skillsets.

Master these action steps and changing careers will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

[1]Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
[2]MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan

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