17 December 2008

Anyone can be an Administrative Assistant, right?

Here are the top qualities that an assistant must have:

  1. Be organized. Can I say that again – BE ORGANIZED! There is nothing more important for an assistant. An assistant’s job is to organize the boss and in order to do that we must be organized ourselves.
  2. Be one step ahead of your boss. An assistant should pay attention and know what is going on in their boss’s world. Try to anticipate the need so you can have the file or the answer your boss needs, before he or she even knows they need it.
  3. Be protective of your boss’s time. Be professional on the phone and greet people who come calling, but not everyone needs to get in to see the boss. Be very selective and guard their time. In many cases the assistant can help or pass the request onto someone else to handle. The assistant is also the gatekeeper to manage the flow of paper through the boss’s office.
  4. Be prepared and think ahead. Maintaining a good bring-forward system is important to have things ready when needed.
  5. Be good at tracking things down. A good assistant knows just where to find the document or file needed, or they won’t stop looking till they do. Having a good filing system and keeping the file list up to date is something every assistant needs to be able to do.
  6. Be able to think on your feet. An assistant’s job is not routine. Granted, there are things we have to do day in and day out, but we are often called upon to fix a situation at a moment’s notice.
  7. Be creative. A cut and paste here and a bit of scotch tape there and you never know what we can accomplish. If the computer doesn’t do what we want -- trick it, it is amazing what we can do if we put our minds to it. As long as the end product looks good, at times we have to be creative to get there.

14 December 2008

What happens at the office Christmas party, stays at the office Christmas party...NOT!

I always have a hard time deciding whether to go to the office Christmas party. It is not that I don't like my co-workers, because I do. The problem is that they are the people I work with and it is often hard to change gears and all of a sudden become social with people I don't normally socialize with. You also don't want to get too relaxed and drink too much because even though you are at a party outside the office, these are still the people you work with and if you have plans for your career then what you do at the office party counts.

So why bother going?

The office party can be a good time for some networking with the different people in your organization. Interactions can be casual, but you also want to show your social skills and should try to greet as many people as you can. It doesn't have to be a long conversation, just a short introduction and if you work in a large company you might want to say which department you work in.

This can also be a good time to strengthen your relationship with your team members. It is nice to have that outside-of-work social connection to make working with someone more pleasant. You may also come to understand your co-workers better and find common interests. This will certainly help in your day-to-day working together.


If you are not able to attend the party, it is always a good idea to let the organizer know and your boss. You don't want to leave the impression that you don't want to be there, although some people choose not to go and that is perfectly fine. You just don't want your absence to become something it is not and give people a reason to wonder why you don't want to be a part of the group. A simple RSVP should solve that problem.

You are invited, plus a guest...

There is also the question about who to bring to the office party? Our party this year included our "significant other". I am single and don't have a significant other so my dilemma was, should I invite a date to the party or go solo? I think care should be taken on who you invite or whether to invite anyone at all. This year I went on my own and many others made the same choice. The office party would not be a good time for a first date.

Make plans to get home

There is never an excuse to drink and drive. Most offices have taxi chits available to make sure employees do not drive home if they have been drinking. If you do not have that option, then get a friend to pick you up or decide on a designated driver amongst your co-workers and have that person drive you home. There may also be other programs available to get people home such as Operation Red Nose. Whatever way you decide to get home, please don't drink and drive.

Enjoy yourself

We had a nice time at our party. I only started with this company in July so I don't know my co-workers that well, so it was a good time to get to know them outside of the office. It was held at my boss's home and was very casual and relaxed. The office party doesn't have to be dull and our wasn't, but you should be on your best behaviour.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a safe and happy holiday and a prosperous New Year.

12 December 2008

Are you worried about job security?

We are living in troubling economic times. The world economy seems to be having a melt down. Big companies are going down the tubes, people are losing their jobs and all of us are wondering what the future holds for us and is there hope that we will keep our job? The answer to all these questions is "we just don't know", but if your company is downsizing there is something you can do to show that you are someone they should keep around?

Here is my list of what I think you can do to make yourself indispensable and create your own job security:
  • Be available. Are you willing to take on new projects and new challenges? Don't brown nose, but you do want your boss to see you as someone who is not afraid of hard work.
  • Be noticed. You want to be noticed, but not negatively. If you are a complainer, stop! Be noticed for being pleasant and a good worker.
  • Be visible. Don't try and hide and stay below the radar. If your employer doesn't know who you are and what you do, it is very likely when it comes to making cuts, your position will seem like something they can do without.
  • Be a team player. You want to be seen as someone who can work with others.
  • Be the go-to person in your office. Get knowledgeable on how to work the various office equipment. Someone has to unjam the photocopier or know who to call if it is a bigger problem. Have that information so you can be a problem solver, not just standing around wondering what to do along with everyone else. Be the person who finds solutions.
  • Be social. Networking within your own company is a great way to keep your current job or secure a future one.
  • Be thankful. If you have a job, be thankful and hang on to it and work productively and to the best of your ability.
  • Probably the most important advice is - Be nice! A personable worker who shows respect for their co-workers is a hard worker to let go.

You may do all these things and still find yourself out of work. I was laid off once from a government position when the department went through downsizing. It was a union job and I was the low person on the years-of-service ladder. Sometimes we may find ourselves out of work even though we have done everything we can to stay employed. Don't look back, just look forward to what new opportunities may come your way. I can honestly say that even though it was a hard time to go through, I ended up getting a much better job and a better opportunity and can look back on it as a good learning experience. If you do have to leave, don't forget to ask for a reference letter. My former boss gave me an excellent reference on paper and by phone. A good reference can go a long way towards getting your next job.

I read an interesting article on what management can do to prevent lay offs. One of the things they stressed was to hire well. They advised not to be so quick to hire someone just to fill the position. Having the right people in the right job is a good combination and makes for a productive team. The same can be said for employees. Be selective and go for the job that is the right fit and that you have confidence you can do. There is nothing worse than having someone in the wrong job. They may be a perfect fit for another position, but if they are sitting in the wrong job, it is a bad situation all around.

If you are an employee who knows you have to make some needed improvements, don't wait for tomorrow. Start yesterday and be the most improved worker on the team and show you have the qualities they are looking for.