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STEP 5: Become Indispensable

STEP 5: Become Indispensable

Currin Berdine / AdminSecret

Congratulations! You’ve gotten the job. Now you need to prove they can’t live without you. How? Embrace your role as the hub of the office, wear many hats, and take on various responsibilities in an organization. Every successful administrative assistant must have the following qualities:

Be Trustworthy: You know your bosses and your organization better than anyone. The people you support need to know they can trust you with their valuable information. Keep sensitive information to yourself.

Give Maximum Effort: In an episode of television show The Office, the boss (Michael Scott) asks an admin (Phyllis) to find him an “anti-gravity machine” for a party. Anti-gravity machines may not exist, but his assistant did everything she could, called every number possible, and went down every avenue to find such a machine. She refused to give up, even when others told her she shouldn’t even try. Fictional, true, but inspirational.

Improvise: When there wasn’t one available, Phyllis improvised and got Michael a jumpy bounce house. Work as hard as you can to accomplish every goal and when you hit a wall think on your feet. Coffee running low? Mix some decaf in with what’s left to stretch it a bit longer. Light bulb in the conference room burn out before a big meeting? Take one from a corner or the bathroom to fill in during a pinch.

Anticipate Your Boss’ Needs: Don’t just do what they ask, do what they don’t think to ask. Example: Your boss has a meeting across town and he needs directions. Someone who does just what they are told would print out the directions. Not good enough! Print a map with the directions, have a list of nearby landmarks (especially gas stations where he can fill up), and if there is a toll bridge, make sure he has the proper change for it.

Take Initiative to Learn: Take in all you can from every employee so that you can step in when needed. Is the IT guy sick? Good thing you remembered how to troubleshoot the company intranet. Is the HR manager on vacation? No worries, you learned how to file an expense report. By stepping into various roles, you’ll become invaluable.

Look for What Needs To Be Done and Do It: Printer needs ink? Replace it. Recycling overflowing? Take it out. Joe Coworker’s lunch stink up the kitchen? Once everyone leaves, spray some air freshener. This will make your workplace much more pleasant. Don’t worry too much about getting recognition for these little things as people tend to notice what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Your next vacation day, people will see why the office is in disarray without you!

Be on Time: “If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. And if you’re late, you’re fired!” This is a common expression in the world of theater, but it applies to the world of business, too. A sure way to get fired is to show up late for work.

For more important information on being a top-notch employee, check out:

Top 10 Ways to Get Fired
How Admins Can Develop Leadership Skills
Get Comfortable Wearing the Manager’s Hat

Join Professional Organizations
AdminSecret believes that professional organizations offer many benefits to members. These include conferences and events with other admins, access to professional certification, professional development articles and assistance, local chapter activities, and more. In addition, it shows your employer and coworkers that you take your career seriously. Legal secretaries should consider joining the largest administrative association, the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). One that caters specifically to legal secretaries is the National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS).

Keep Your Skills Up
Successful legal secretaries don’t stay on top by accident; they work at it by constantly improving their skills.

Further Your Education

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“You must take classes and continue training, because software programs and other things are constantly changing,” says Cynthia Lively, past president of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). Lively, who has 36 years of admin experience, is also the administrative assistant to the headmaster at the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Quick Tips
The IAAP recognizes that there are many avenues to take when trying to obtain training. The IAAP suggests that admins:

Attend community college classes, or classes offered at business, vocational, or technical schools.

Talk to HR directors to find out which training opportunities are offered through your company.

Subscribe to professional publications and personal computer magazines.

Find self-tutorial programs. As training vehicles, self-tutorials are extremely attractive, especially for learning software.

Join continuing education mailing lists from local schools. You can also check your newspaper for computer and other classes offered locally.

For more details on sharpening your skills, learn how to keep your admin skills in shape.

For more career advice, see our other Career Articles.

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