Look for an opportunity where you can grow your skills, command a higher salary and enjoy work-life balance, says Robert Hosking

Some good news for administrative and customer support professionals who are seeking their next opportunity: Nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) managers say finding skilled candidates to fill these vital roles is tough. That not only makes it easier to land a job offer, but it also potentially boosts your salary and expands your career opportunities.

That’s just one takeaway from the Robert Half Salary Guide for 2024, a must-have resource for administrative and customer support talent looking to advance their careers.

The Right Skills Can Win You a Raise

A full 69% of managers polled by Robert Half indicate that expertise in customer experience can command higher pay, while 62% echo that sentiment for project and program management skills. Why are these abilities so highly prized? Customer experience is at the heart of customer retention and brand reputation, both critical in today’s competitive market. As for effective project management, it’s more essential than ever for administrative professionals given the challenges facing modern organizations – whether it’s navigating remote work or integrating new technologies.

Interestingly, the skills that generate the most buzz aren’t necessarily the most marketable in the professional sphere. Just 39% of managers named social media as a pay-enhancing skill compared to 53% who chose Microsoft 365. While social media savvy is valuable in today’s digital landscape, companies still place a premium on proficiency in tried-and-true software that serves as the backbone for many business operations.

Roles That Are Still in Demand

Administrative Assistant

Referring to administrative Assistants as simply the “glue” that holds teams together overlooks their vital role in spearheading projects and incorporating new technology. It’s also a natural career path for people who want meaningful, purpose-driven work: Over a quarter (26%) of administrative Assistants work in healthcare or social assistance settings. Starting salaries – meaning pay for someone new to a company in the position – range between USD $40,500 and USD $47,500 based on experience and qualifications.

Executive Assistant

These professionals offer critical support, enabling top executives to concentrate on big-picture strategies. Daily tasks range from organizing high-level meetings to managing sensitive communications. The financial rewards match the high level of responsibility, with starting salaries spanning from USD $54,750 to USD $83,500.

Office manager

As the office changes, so does the role of the office manager. Post-pandemic, many of these supervisors are now tasked with the complex challenge of ensuring hybrid teams function seamlessly, both in and out of the office. The demands of this evolving role are matched by starting salaries that range between USD $53,500 and USD $64,750.

Flexibility Is More Than Just a Perk

With 60% of job candidates saying they’d be more likely to apply for a role if it allowed a remote option, it’s clear that flexibility is not just a perk but a priority for many professionals. To negotiate a remote or hybrid work option, emphasize your experience as proof that you can meet or exceed expectations while working remotely. Almost half (46%) of managers say they’ve added new benefits and perks to attract top talent. Don’t hesitate to make these a part of your negotiation strategy.

Contract Work Can Open Doors

Since 57% of hiring managers want to bring on more contract professionals, this is an avenue worth exploring. This arrangement lets you dip your toes into various industries or departments. Plus, working in different kinds of business environments can make your resume more appealing.

Often, companies use contract roles as a “test drive” before offering permanent employment. Performing well in a contract position can sometimes fast-track you into a long-term role, making it an excellent way to get your foot in the door.

From climbing the corporate ladder to charting your own path through contract work, options abound for administrative and customer support professionals in 2024.

Robert Hosking is executive director of the administrative and customer support practice at Robert Half, where he leads operations for nearly 300 practice locations worldwide. With close to 30 years of experience in the staffing industry, he has extensive ... (Read More)

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