As many of you know, I was one of so many employees that lost a full-time position in the last two years. Gratefully, I landed on my feet- albeit at a different title and different pay but it has worked out very well for me.
Lately, I’ve had more than a few experienced Executive Assistants – those that have more than 5-7 years experience in the field, and with tremendous leadership skills and IAAP active members tell me that they are now in the position that I was in not very long ago. ..looking for full-time employment.
What are some of the biggest challenges faced by our peers in this position?
1) Pay scale… because they have so many skills and are so experienced- many firms either cannot or will not match the salary ranges of these exceptional candidates. Newer graduates are already computer savvy but that leads to the next issue…
2) Firms do not recognize the difference between a career-administrative professional and the thousands of individuals that can work in Office 2007 software. Just because you have mad typing speed and have done many documents in Word does not necessarily translate to a competent administrative support professional.
Experienced admins know the soft skill of prioritizing projects, deflecting awkward calls, angry calls, frustrated board members, CEO kids that call for their Mom/Dad from school because someone forgot to pick them up can’t reach them on their folks on their cell or blackberry…, deftly handle cold calls, have superb connections with other admins so scheduling conflicts are often resolved long before the boss would’ve ever know about it.
3) Over experience- again, this is because many HR professionals are stuck with finding the right person, for the right money , trying to find that EA that won’t necessarily pick up and split the minute the economy starts to gain some traction. Firms are looking for company loyalty. In my previous posts, you will note that I had made this mistake when my husband and I relocated to this area ten years ago. It has been a challenge to recover from this commonly known issue- called 18- month syndrome. Though it is an understood tactic among admins in the DC Metro region to pursue higher salary and responsibility through job changes- it is no longer looked on as an understanding of competition for great talent– it is seen as a liability.
4) Lack of Network- Admins that are members in the International Assoc. of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) have an advantage here. There is a great underground resource of admins looking out for other admins- a peer resource network that is national in scope and understanding.
LinkedIn, is a superb resource for connecting with other administrative professionals. It has many groups for admin support professionals- EAs to CEOs, OfficeArrrow, IAAP, American Society of Administrative Professionals, OfficeDynamics, AdminSecret, DeskDemon, Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals etc.. Connecting to these groups exponentially expands networking connections.
I certainly respect and empathize with the challenges that my peers face in this challenging employment climate. Being able to suggest some resources is just one way I can try to help my colleagues.. I’m simply trying to return the favor.
* self-disclosure- I work for an association that works with firms that help others find employment. This blog reflects my personal thoughts only.