Sculpting a better administrative assistant career path

Get ahead in your administrative assistant career with our proven career advice

5 minutes

April 29, 2022 Adecco

An administrative assistant and their boss look at a laptop screen

As an administrative assistant, you depend on your manager for direction and guidance. However, they probably depend on you just as much. Make sure you come through for them by being proactive (as opposed to reactive) in helping your manager achieve their goals and by communicating as a strategic partner, not just as a secretary. By doing so, you can advance in your administrative assistant career.

Always anticipate

Managers are juggling as much, or more, as everyone else in the company – the only difference is that you’re there to help them, and you can do so by anticipating how you should react to a scenario. If you can think like your boss, you will always be appreciated and, hopefully, rewarded for leaving them so little to think about, especially in stressful situations.

Ask good questions

When you take the time to ask questions about a newly assigned task, you will avoid slip-ups and being forced to ask questions once it’s too late. When faced with an assignment, always analyze, evaluate, and make sure nothing is vague. The end result will be work done right the first time. Be prepared with the meaningful questions that you can’t find the answers to yourself and come with suggestions to any problems that may arise.

Befriend the boss

You don’t have to socialize with your manager on the weekends, but getting to know them a bit more on a personal level will help you professionally as well. Make it a point to book a lunch or a coffee break with your boss to just talk and discuss things such as interests, hobbies, and family so that you’re knowledgeable about their lifestyle and so that they know a bit more about you.

Communicate cautiously

A person who manages their manager will understand what their boss needs to know and what should be passed off as insignificant. You don’t want to seem like a time-waster, so keep it to the most important information only, but always be honest. Communicating concerns to your boss should also be done most gingerly - don’t make an issue about anything you can reasonably handle yourself, but make sure your boss is always in the loop with any ongoing situation that has the potential to escalate.

Don’t let them forget you

Your team gives you recognition because they know how good you are. This doesn’t mean that you’re not appreciated; it just means your manager needs a gentle reminder of all the great work you’re doing.

A little self promotion is good for the ego and lets your manager know that all of this good work isn’t getting done on its own. Maybe a weekly recap of accomplishments will remind your manager how much you actually do. If you feel it’s time for a raise or promotion, the open and honest relationship that you’ve already forged will make it easy to talk to your boss about what it will take to maintain your job satisfaction.

Assure them they can depend on you

Never let your manager ask you where they should be or what time their meeting is – always keep them on top of what they have to do. It can be difficult enough to manage your own responsibilities as well as someone else’s, but it’s most important to make sure your boss doesn’t miss a beat. If they look good, it will look good for you and your career.

Building trust with your manager will ensure satisfaction from both parties – they will be inspired by your intuition and initiative, and they will make sure you grow in your career.

For more administrative assistant career advice, check out our job seeker resources, or contact your local Adecco representative.