Guiding Principles for Administrative Assistants to Live by

Michele Warg
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An administrative assistant needs to know a little bit of everything to succeed at the office. A true pro must juggle schedules, know how to use every piece of office software, communicate effectively, work with a team and prioritize projects. To these ends, admins can strive to live by some guiding principles that could impact their careers.

Breaking Through

See barriers as a challenge to break through and conquer. You occasionally face setbacks as an administrative assistant, but learning how to deal with them offers valuable lessons in persistence and problem solving.

Moving Up

Your career depends on you and not the company for which you work. Hone your soft skills to advance in your career as you gain more experience. Learn to start projects on your own, be flexible when things change, set goals to reach in incremental steps and pay attention to details. All of these aspects combine to make a dynamite administrative assistant.

Setting Goals

Never think you're too old to set a new course in your life. If you want to switch careers after your kids grow up, don't be afraid to go back to school, earn that degree and become passionate about another facet of your personality. Just because you start out as an administrative assistant, that doesn't mean you have to stay that way.

Adjusting Attitudes

Personality conflicts might occur, both with clients and with coworkers. One key measurement of your success is how you respond that person. Rather than stoop to his level, rise above and have the right attitude of professionalism. React with poise and calm rather than lashing out in anger. If anyone becomes a recurring problem, handle it through the proper channels.

Taking Responsibility

Take responsibility for the choices you make in your career, and do not lay blame for your decisions with anyone else. Being an adult means being responsible for your own happiness rather than depending on others, so if you're unhappy write down why you feel this way and take action to correct it.

Behaving Well

While at work, maintain a professional demeanor that combines your work ethic, appearance, skills, attitude and how you act. Keep your personal issues separate from things that happen at work. Once you walk out the door after 5 p.m., you can leave the administrative assistant behind until the next morning.

Standing Out

A professional attitude does not have to follow someone who is boring just like everyone else. Stand out from the crowd, and be yourself while maintaining your professionalism. Revel in your uniqueness, as that's what bosses and co-workers remember the most about you.

Fit these guiding principles into your administrative assistant career, and see where they take you. Examine what happens, and you just might find things looking up for you as you move forward in your professional life.

Photo courtesy of marcolm at


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