Taking the Leap from Assistant to Supervisor

Nancy Anderson
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Administrative Assistant positions have long been a way to get your “foot in the door” of a company you want to work for. Recent college graduates, job seekers with little experience, or those who are changing careers find these positions afford them an interesting job where they can learn a lot about the company and get some exposure. Duties and responsibilities vary, but AAs have more opportunity in today’s workplace with smaller staffs and more work to be done. Senior AA positions demand higher wage rates and come with perks, but what do you need to do to make the leap from hourly to salaried? Here are some steps you can take now if you want to move up the ladder.

1. Do your homework. What are the requirements for entry-level supervisory or management positions at your company? Do they require a college degree or level of technical training as a minimum? Do you have to be proficient in a type of software or other system?

2. Continue your education. A lot of companies offer tuition reimbursement, depending on your job, the course material and your final grade. If you must have a college degree to even apply for the next level job, don’t wait. Get started now.

3. Develop a reputation. Show you’re the kind of person who would fit well with the management team. Be on time, meet every deadline, show that you have impeccable communications skills, and master the office equipment, software packages and phone systems. Be the “go-to” person who is willing to help and has the knowledge to back it up.

4. Help your boss succeed. Find out what is important to your boss, his goals and objectives, “hot buttons,” and communication style preference. Show you have moxie—the ability to size up a situation, weigh the alternatives and make the best decision to solve a problem.

5. Speak Out. One of the best ways to gain confidence and exposure is to be a competent speaker. Take a speech course at a local college, enroll in a Dale Carnegie course or join a local Toastmasters club. You’ll learn organization, presentation skills, how to deliver a message within a set timeframe, how to give feedback, make introductions and run a meeting efficiently.

6. Dress the part. What is the typical attire for the management team? Depending on the position and the business, it could be suits and ties, khakis and golf shirts, or skirts and jackets. If your uniform for the office is a step above your pajamas, you may want to bump it up a notch. Fitting in with the next level is more than just skill and education.

7. Raise your hand. Take advantage of every opportunity to volunteer—for a project, seminar or training program. Take on the responsibility no one else wants. You may end up being the expert in a critical area of your department. Accept the offer to attend staff meetings for your boss, or sit in on the executive board meeting and take notes. When you do, make sure you greet everyone so they get to know you, and practice remembering names.

8. Go for it. In every job, there is growing room. If you meet the minimum requirements, but are lacking in some minor areas, go for it. Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” There will always be more to learn and experience, but if you want the job, you’re going to have to make the first move. If you’ve followed the first seven steps, you will have prepared yourself for success at the next level.

By Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, MJNH Consulting

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a freelance writer, blogger, and consultant. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in "Training" magazine, "Training & Development" magazine, "Supervision," "Pulse" and "The Savannah Morning News." You can read her blogs at www.skirt.com/savannahchick, www.workingsmartworks.blogspot.com/ and on the web at www.mjnhconsulting.com.


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