Administrative Professionals Week 2009

Happy APW 2009!

It’s hard to believe that I started this blog almost four years ago. Since then, I have earned my Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) rating and my Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) rating. I have had the opportunity to serve in several leadership roles for my local IAAP chapter. I have also traveled to regional and national conferences related to the profession.

In more than one posting I have mentioned how important I believe our profession is to the success of firms all over the world. We take on the bulk of the hand-offs, unwanted phone calls and other time-consuming minutiae that eats away at the productivity of the management team. [Sometimes, the management team does it to themselves…but that’s another blog.] I have also written about the many challenges of the admin-executive partnership -as Joan Burge calls it.

Today, I write as one of many administrative professionals- working in the temporary employment field. I am in the midst of learning a tough lesson about longevity. My last employer down-sized and then moved out of town. Prior to that, I had a great position working a few days from home and a couple days in the office. But then I experienced the death of a parent and continued to struggle with the fact that the work was not traditional administrative support, so I decided to move back to a job downtown.

During my interviews, I have been honest about the reasons for my change in companies, but it has definitely impacted whether I even get considered- certifications or not. There is not a right or wrong answer. It just is. Our economy is in tough shape and I have to be willing to tough it out.

I am extremely grateful that I have continued to receive temporary assignments daily. I know that the key to success for me is to be able to get my foot in the door and demonstrate what a great administrative professional can do for a company. I am also thankful to my friends and peers that have continued to forward company contacts and job-postings that they think will work for me. They know me and my personality. It is just a matter of time before the tide turns in my favor.

In the meantime, I wish all administrative professionals the very best during “our” week. Enjoy the recognition. If you are not working full-time or working temporary assignments as I am doing, keep the faith. The most professional and positive among us will be the first to benefit when the economy picks back up.

A Pleasant Surprise- The Employer and Your Skillset

I’m just one amongst the thousands of Americans that has recently been through downsizing, laid off or fired. Luckily for administrative professionals, especially in the DC area-our skills at the professional level are still in demand.

The company I had worked for downsized and then relocated about 25 miles from my home, which in DC traffic equates to 1.5 to 2 hours drive in rush hour. I finished out my obligations and began to seek another position.

Like many of my peers, I used my referrals from friends, family and I also utilized many IAAP connections to get my name and resume in front of many new faces. To those who doubt the power of networking.. I strongly encourage you to reconsider.

I was recently assigned a temporary slot with an association that needed coverage for an employee’s maternity leave. The pleasant surprise came for both the employer and for me.
They were happy to have an experienced admin that was willing to learn, ask questions, take on new (and tedious) tasks.. had a pleasant personality. My part of the pleasant surprise was that I got to learn about the back end administration of webportals and websites, lots of cool stuff about the physiology of the brain and Keurig coffee machines (which if you know my weakness/addiction..this was a real bonus). The hours at the assignment were flexible and they followed the federal government leave schedule- which is always a bonus with any kind family obligation- kid or eldercare.

So more than once I received kudos for what I knew and how organized I was. ..and quite honestly, my disheartened ego needed it. This experience reaffirmed what I already knew- I am competent, great to work with and willing to do the work necessary. [As Stuart Smalley would say, and gosh darnit! I’m good enough.]

Sometimes we forget that our work is valuable- and can help in a way we cannot anticipate. This is always a pleasant reminder, if not a surprise when we are not thinking of it in this framework.