How to Navigate the Administrative Career Path with Erica Ravich of Clarity Staffing
Administrative professionals are extremely valuable players in any business or organization; they ensure that a company can perform at its best by making the jobs of the executives and staff members they work with easier and ensure that businesses run smoothly.
Administrative positions come in all shapes, sizes, and levels and can lead to a variety of career paths. Over the past four years in my role at Clarity Staffing in NYC I’ve successfully matched hundreds of administrative professionals with companies and roles that are a strong fit for their skills and ambitions. I’ve met administrative professionals who are passionate about building a career in the field, while others view it as an entry point for a specific company or career path. In my work I’ve seen where admins have started and how they have grown in their roles. For those just entering or considering the administrative field, I want to break down what admins actually do in their day-to-day jobs and where an administrative opportunity can lead.
By definition, administrative roles vary in responsibility. However, there are characteristics and skills that define a great admin: extremely organized, detail oriented, enjoys helping others, have a can-do attitude, and not above any task. Typical administrative responsibilities include managing schedules, booking travel, and handling expenses for the person or persons the role supports. Administrative roles can also go way beyond these responsibilities depending on who the person in the role reports to and the needs of the company. Admins also create presentations, help out with reporting or lead generation in sales roles, and assist with personal work such as making dinner reservations or picking out gifts.
Those working in administrative roles are like backstage staff at a theater: they ensure the whole production goes off without a hitch. At the same time, administrative roles offer the opportunity to learn from an extremely successful person who can serve as a mentor or valuable reference in the future.
Forging a career path
Because the skills you gain in an administrative position are valuable and transferrable to a wide variety of jobs, beginning your career in an admin capacity can lend itself to a variety of professional paths. The skills admins rely on, like organization, attention to detail, working well with others, and being proactive are necessary in any job. At Clarity, I’ve worked with career admin professionals who love their day-to-day. I have seen them climb the ladder from a Junior Admin to Admin Assistant, to Executive Assistant, Senior Executive Assistant, to a Chief of Staff or Director of Administration.
There are others I have worked with who are more interested in using an administrative role as a way to springboard into another career path or to grow within an organization. I’ve worked with job-seeking candidates who took a receptionist role as a foot in the door at a company that interested them. After this initial job they have been able to shift into other departments such as HR, marketing, or facilities and operations management. To make this transition, it’s important to demonstrate mastery of the administrative role, show an interest in a specific area, and be proactive when the time is right about pursuing growth opportunities within the company.
Find the right role for you
Whether you are considering an administrative career path or looking to use it as a foot in the door for a specific company, you need to find a job that is the right fit for you. While in the interview process it’s important to get a sense as to whether the opportunity at hand will lend itself to growth in other areas or not. Certain companies encourage growth within the organization, while others want to hire admins for the long term and are looking for people who are committed to an administrative role.
During your interview ask concrete questions such as how long the previous admin was in the position and what their day-to-day workload was like. You can also ask open ended questions, like the long term expectations for those in administrative roles in the company. Make sure you know from the beginning what the hiring company’s intentions are and be genuine about your intentions as well – transparency is the only way to be sure you are taking on the opportunity that is the best match for you.
Planning for your administrative career
Careers in administration can be equally challenging and rewarding. Before you jump into a specific company or role do as much background research as possible and work to understand the expectations that come with the role. To find strong administrative talent, many companies work with outside recruiting firms, so if you are looking to gain access to a variety of roles and get more information about the companies that are hiring, you may find it helpful to work with a staffing agency like Clarity. Agencies are a valuable resource for job seekers since they have insight into the intricacies of the role at hand, where it could lead, what type of personalities or working styles the role supports, and how to prepare for and navigate the interview process.
Over all, remember that administrative roles are so much more than answering phones. Admins do the critical work that supports major company players and drives a business forward. If you are someone who wants to make a difference at a company, starting, or building a career in an administrative role can be a satisfying way to set you up for long term success.