Administrative assistants are the backbone of any office environment. They wear many hats and can act as everything from a gatekeeper to high-level decision-makers. Administrative careers can be both rewarding and stressful. While some people are content to stay in an administrative career, others find that as they grow, they want to leverage their experience and move into something new.
However, making a career change isn’t always easy, and that’s where professional recruiters can help.
A recruiter can help administrative professionals springboard into something new by highlighting transferable skills employers need and want in entry-level professionals.
Why Is An Administrative Career A Good Springboard?
Some people think that an admin’s career path is limited. They can stay where they are, job hop for pay raises, or eventually move from an assistant to a senior administrator. However, the skills that make someone a fantastic administrative assistant can transfer into a variety of fields. This includes “hard” skills like specific computer software, light accounting skills, budgeting skills, writing, and more. But it can also include soft skills like organization, attention to detail, verbal communication, and other “intangibles.”
“Knowing what your strengths, are and being able to capitalize on them, are key for growing professionally. Focus on the skills you already have rather than what you don’t. Your strengths are what have made you into the administrative professional you are now and will help take you to the next level. Rely on the strengths that can’t necessarily be taught – communication, organization, multi-tasking, etc. These will be what make you stand out from other applicants and what will lead you to success.“ – Monserrat Escudero, Recruiting Specialist
Where Do You Want to take Your Administrative Career: Know What Your Target Jobs Are
You don’t start a journey without knowing your destination. Before you decide you want to move out of an administrative career into something new, you need to determine exactly where you want to go. An administrative career can be a great springboard into fields like accounting, sales, marketing, human resources, management, purchasing, customer relations, account management and operations, to name a few. Wherever you want to land, make sure you’re clear on your goals and that you understand the entry-level requirements to break into a new field. Careers like sales can often be entered into without much hands-on experience, while accounting might require development of some specific skills.
Once you are clear on where you want to go and the basic requirements of the job you want to target, you can begin to map out a plan for leveraging your administrative career into a new field.
“Administrative Professionals are often times the “utility player” of the office. Most of the skills used on a daily basis can translate into any new position you may want to seek out. When you are considering a career change, look at the specific job you’re applying to and tailor your resume to that job by highlighting the specific skills/ experience from your current administrative role that would be a great match to a potential new one.” – Jenny Busch, Marketing Specialist
What Are Your Transferable Skills?
Organizational skills are what make or break any admin. You can’t excel in the field without being a highly organized individual. And it’s a skill that is a basic requirement for nearly any job in any industry – but it’s also one that not every candidate possesses. This puts admins at an advantage. Every hiring manager knows that if you’ve succeeded as an administrative professional, you’re most likely an organized person.
Multitasking is another skill that you have likely mastered in your administrative career. Admins get pulled in many directions all at once and must juggle many balls. Multitasking is also a skill that many people claim to have, but can’t necessarily prove they have it. As a successful admin, it goes without saying that you’ve had to master the art of multitasking, and this makes you a highly valuable job candidate.
Administrative professionals must be able to communicate well in writing and in person. They are often the “voice” of their boss to other employees, and they must communicate to their boss on behalf of other employees, as well. Administrative professionals must be adept at listening, as well, which is another skill that is hard to find and prove. Communication is a highly sought-after transferable skill that can be highlighted when looking for a new job.
Admins act as gatekeepers to decision-makers and are often subject to the complaints of customers, vendors and employees. They may have to deal with difficult bosses, they may have to deliver bad news on behalf of their boss or to their boss, and they deal with a variety of interpersonal challenges on a daily basis. The only way to successfully navigate these situations effectively is to demonstrate high emotional intelligence. Employers seek people with high EQs because they tend to make ideal employees.
When you’re interested in making a career change, include these transferable skills on your resume – and any related transferable skills that make sense that can help give you a leg up in your job search.
“It is important to have tangible examples of how you have leveraged each of these skills in a work setting. Focus on how your abilities impacted the business. Did you organize an all-company or all-department meeting with vendors, managed travel for 100 employees, arranged gifts, entertainment, speakers, worked with hotel production and technology teams, vet contracts, kept budgets, and more? These are all great examples of experience to move into a new job, or even a new industry.” – Pauline Brannigan, National Sales Director, Professional & Contact Center Division
Identify Skill Gaps You May Need to Close.
While administrative assistants certainly have a host of transferable skills, there will inevitably be skills that you need to develop in order to make yourself marketable. There are a variety of ways to close skill gaps, including:
Take Classes and/or Earn Certifications
You may need to learn new skills or concepts from scratch. The good news? Thanks to online learning, you can study new skills right from your own computer. Places like Coursera and LinkedIn offer affordable at-your-own-pace certifications at an affordable price. If you prefer in-person learning, check out local universities, community colleges and adult learning centers.
Volunteering can help you gain experience and learn the skills necessary to perform the work in a paid setting. An additional benefit is that you can also expand your professional network by volunteering within the field you are interested in.
Pursue Temporary Jobs in Your Target Field
Never underestimate the power of taking on temporary jobs. Some people think temp jobs are just seasonal or are for people with lower skill levels, but nothing is further from the truth. Employers of all sizes and in all industries leverage temporary employees to help navigate high workloads, leaves of absence and special projects. The barrier to entry into temporary jobs is lower than full-time jobs. Employers expect to train temporary employees on the job, and short-term jobs are a great way to build skills and get exposure to different types of work environments. There are also lots of situations in which you can turn a temporary job into a full-time position in your target field.
“I learned early on that to excel in the field, I needed to learn a little bit about a lot of things. It wasn’t enough just to do the monotonous tasks that no one else on the team cared to do, but to become a subject matter expert of those tasks while also learning the basic functions of my other colleagues’ positions to assist whenever needed. This allowed me to positively standout and become more of an asset by pitching in when one was out on PTO or swamped with other job responsibilities. Accepting this mentality in the role allowed me to pursue my desires as they constantly changed in every direction imaginable.” – Kenyetta Wilson, Regional Marketing Partner
Partner With A Professional Recruiter To Leverage Your Administrative Career
Changing careers can be stressful and can even feel like an uphill battle, which is where a professional recruiter can help. Instead of combing job boards endlessly and spending hours applying to jobs manually, a recruiter can do that legwork for you, getting your resume in front of employers looking for candidates like you.
Recruiters can also help you sharpen our resume and other hiring materials before sending them to potential employers to highlight your most marketable skills. Another benefit of working with a recruiter is that they “pre-sell” you to employer prior to your interview and they only submit you to jobs for which you are likely well-aligned, taking a lot of pressure off of you in the interview process. They will also debrief with you after the interview to provide you with actionable feedback on what you did well and where you can potentially improve in the future.
Ready To Leverage Your Administrative Career to Find A New Job?
Work With The Industry’s Top Professional Recruiters
If you are an experienced administrative professional that is in the process of changing specializations or industries, we invite you to send your resume to the recruiters at Partners Personnel, a top national recruiting firm. We partner with employers in a variety of sectors and our team can help you advance your IT career. Browse our open jobs or send us your resume today.