A guest blog post by Kemetia Foley, CPS/CAP. Kemetia operates the blog superppn.blogspot.com
I am an optimist and a realist. Let’s face facts: The administrative profession is changing faster than some celebrities go through boyfriends. It doesn’t take a brain scientist to see that more and more firms are counting on employees and middle management to handle their own calls, prepare their own documents and make their own travel arrangements. So, what’s a savvy admin to do to remain relevant AND competitive in our career field?
Consider taking on learning these new skills:
Learn Spanish. Take an on-line course, find a local discussion practice group, or take at least a semester of Spanish at a local community college I’ve spoken with several friends in the HR world that have anecdotally confirmed that fluently bilingual Spanish/English administrative assistants earn a higher pay rate and can pretty much have the job of their choice should their software skills, experience and references match up. The friend in the field also told me their call board can receive up to six requests per day for an administrative assistant that is bilingual in Spanish. Of course, this is in the Washington DC Metro area. I suspect it would play out the same in cities that have a large Spanish speaking population, such as Miami or Los Angeles. This trend is not going away. I have a hunch it is going to be THE most important skill in the next twenty years, not just for administrative professionals - but all professions. Any fluency in a second language is wonderful, but Spanish is really an advantage in business in the United States for now. Don’t want to learn Spanish? I would recommend considering taking a course in Chinese or Arabic as an alternative.
Database software and query writing:
Get to know your databases. Again, if you don’t have access to training at your workplace- take a class. Reach out to your professional and personal networks to ask if someone would take time to at least give you brief overview of database management. As we move away from the more typical administrative tasks that can be done by our supervisors via mobile phone network - we need to have an additional skill up our sleeve that cannot be accomplished or processed (yet) by mobile phone. Boston.com recently rated databases administrators in their top 30 fastest growing occupations. [http://www.boston.com/jobs/galleries/30fastest_growing_occupations/]
Facilities /Office management:
A great example of this is to learn about the company phone system. In larger firms this is going to be handled by contractors, but in smaller firms - knowing more about phone systems will be valuable. Have you seen the more modern phone systems? Calls are answered by clicking on your monitor, they can tell you who is calling and whose line they were calling in to - and the same system allows you to ‘drag and drop’ the call into voicemail. These are fascinating new systems - and really great to learn because someone has to be able to train the staff if you have rotating phone coverage.
There are many more options. The choice is yours. Many career advisors point to the importance of being a lifelong learner. This tenet certainly applies in our field. Learning skills that complement our profession without taking away from our basic role of providing administrative support will enable us to continue to grow and help our companies to grow as well.
This guest blog posting was written and contributed by Kemetia Foley. Kemetia resides in the Washington D.C. area and operates the blog, Super PPN (or Paid Professional Nudge) since APW 2006.