Being an administrative professional can be a rewarding and exciting career. However, like any profession, it doesn’t come with a 100% guarantee. Layoffs happen. Companies are bought and sold everyday. And executives retire, get transferred, or change roles.
In today’s unpredictable economy, administrative jobs can be few and far between in some places. However, a lack of a job doesn’t have to stifle your admin career. There are still plenty of ways to stay relevant to the admin profession while searching for a new opportunity.
Get involved with associations
Association memberships are really important for admins, regardless of whether you’re currently employed or looking for a job. Joining one of these groups helps you build your network, develop skills and improve your business acumen. They expose you to new people, ideas, methods, resources and experiences. And they can open up a whole new world of opportunities.
If you’re looking for a group of like-minded, career-driven admins, there are several admin associations out there. Do an internet search for administrative professional associations and research the options that might be a good fit for you. Ask your colleagues which associations they recommend.
Keep in mind, though, you don’t have to confine your membership to admin-related associations. It’s also important to think about professional association membership outside the admin profession. There are a lot of helpful and relevant associations out there that aren’t strictly for admins, but they still address various aspects of your career development.
Take a look at interest or skill-specific organizations, such as project management, event, meeting or travel planning associations. There are also numerous public speaking groups such as Toastmasters International, and networking groups like Business Networking International, business organizations, women’s networks, entrepreneur associations, and local/regional groups that can do wonders for your admin career.
The associations you join don’t have to be local either. In this technology age, you don’t need to attend regular meetings to experience the benefits of association membership. An online group can be just as valuable to your career and you can get all the same benefits – plus you can participate from your home or office. There are also some face-to-face components of virtual groups, such as meetings, conferences and other events that still give you the option to connect in person if you choose to.
Become a virtual assistant
As a virtual assistant (VA), you have the flexibility to do as much or as little work as you want. It also helps you keep your skills sharp and stay on top of trends outside of the traditional office environment. So it’s a great option for those seeking a full-time position, considering retirement, or taking leave.
Getting started as a VA can take a little time and effort, as you learn the ropes and build your client list. However, there are several things you can do to make the process smoother and your overall experience a more successful one.
1 Network. Tap your personal and professional network to find clients and work. Reach out to former colleagues, friends and even family and ask if they or anyone they know needs a VA. This is a great way to generate new business, whether you’re a veteran VA or just getting started.
2 Subcontract. If you know someone who is a VA, ask them if they’re willing to subcontract any work out to you. Also, don’t be shy about striking up new relationships with experienced VAs and inquiring about work. Most VAs are more than happy to help out someone who is new to the field. And even if they don’t have any subcontracting work, they may be able to refer you to someone who does.
3 Read and research. There are several helpful books out there for virtual assistants, including Virtually Successful: 8 Simple Ways for Virtual Assistants to Find (And Keep) Clients and The Bootstrap VA: The Go-Getter’s Guide to Becoming a Virtual Assistant, Getting and Keeping Clients, and More! Pick up one of these books and gain some valuable knowledge about the VA world. You can also check out VA blogs and websites, such as the onlinebusinessmanager.com and thevirtualasst.com.
In addition to the resources already listed, these sites are also helpful for researching virtual assistance:
If you can’t find a paid position, why not offer to help a local charity, school, hospital or other organization for free? It’s a great way to improve and develop your skills. It’s also a good way to get your name out there and of networking with people to let them know you’re looking for employment. And the benefits don’t stop there…
a Resume builder and gap-filler. If you take any kind of break from the administrative world – whether it’s due to a lay-off or because you need to raise kids or recover from an illness or injury – volunteering can help prevent resume gaps. By getting involved in an organization in a volunteer capacity, you also can develop existing skills and learn new ones!
b Work samples for your professional portfolio. If you have a print or digital professional portfolio (and you should have at least one), you need to include work samples in it. For some admins, this is problematic because they don’t have access to their work from previous employers or the company kept its materials confidential. Volunteering gives you samples of work that you can use in your portfolio that help demonstrate your skills and abilities.
c Networking. As a volunteer, you have a lot of chances to meet new people and engage with companies and organizations you may not have encountered otherwise. It also provides a fast track to new connections and opportunities if you haven’t built a network and suddenly need one to help you find a new position.
5 Work with a staffing agency
One of the best things you can do if you are out of work is go to a temporary staffing agency. Temping helps you keep your skills active and develop new ones, too. Many staffing agencies will help you prepare for interviewing, assist with training support and provide resume feedback. Think of it as a paid job interview – the people you’re working with get to see what your skills are and you get to try out the company to see if it’s a good fit. You could find your next job, make new connections or discover a skill you didn’t know you had! Just keep in mind that not all staffing agencies are the same. Make sure to research the options available in your area and see what programs, jobs and assistance are available before you commit to an agency.
6 Continue your admin education
If you have skills that need improvement, a break from work is a chance to bring them up to par.
Take classes in areas you’re not strong in or new ones you want to learn. You can also get training through community programs, professional associations, or online. Tap into social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to connect with professional associations and training companies that offer training – both paid and free – on a regular basis. Executive Secretary magazine and All Things Admin have numerous affordable training opportunities available for admins. Ilostmyjob.com also has a lot of free training webinars and resources.
Reading is also a flexible, inexpensive and highly beneficial methods for continuing your admin education. Teach yourself to be a better communicator, listener or manager. Learn to be a more efficient, effective and innovative admin. Discover your strengths and weaknesses, and find out more about your personality type. You can do all this simply by picking up a book (or two)! Some of my personal favorites are: SuperCompetent by Laura Stack, StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey, and Your Belief Quotient by Dr Lisa Van Allen.
Between jobs? Searching for your first admin job? Want to stay engaged in the profession after retirement? Regardless of your situation, if you put these practices into action, you can stay relevant in the admin profession. By taking the initiative and seeking new opportunities, you’ll not only develop new skills and avoid gaps in your resume, you may even find your next job opportunity – or a new career track – in the process!