My answer is YES!! I believe there are numerous advantages to joining a women’s network. These groups provide a place where women can nurture relationships in a way that feels comfortable and in a space that empowers them. Below are just a few of the perks I’ve found these networks provide:
In male-dominated industries, women have struggled to secure strong representation in all levels of management. The formation of women's networks has played an important role in empowering women to break through the glass ceiling.
Another benefit of gender specific networks is having a space where we are not being judged by our actions, speech, tone of voice or topics of discussion. We can’t escape the fact that we are all judged at times, but it is nice to have a space where we are judged on criteria that pertains to our job rather than our gender.
Dr. Elizabeth Scharlau Roling conducted a study of women nationwide to understand the impact of women’s networks on both women and their organizations. The results reported 81% of organizations support an internal women’s network. The study provided evidence that there are significant benefits to women’s networks in organizations, and that participating in a women’s network is associated with higher levels of social support, a greater sense of well-being and more positive attitudes toward the company. These findings suggest women’s networks should continue to be recommended and supported.
Liz Yancey, President of Women at AT&T - Atlanta Chapter was quoted as saying, “Joining a women’s network may or may not lead to a promotion – that depends on you and your abilities - but it certainly gives you the exposure and visibility to officers in your company as well as leaders outside of your company when you invite them to meetings or ask them to speak at your meetings.”
When I began to compose this list, it was for a co-worker who was transitioning from a lower level admin position to a C-level support position. It began as a list of the differences between an admin and an executive assistant. When I made the decision to post it to my blog, I discussed it with several of my admin colleagues. In those discussions I realized there are many admins doing EA duties and EAs that are honestly doing the bare minimum. Ultimately, I decided upon the terms “paycheck admin” and “career admin” for this post.
There are literally thousands of examples I could give, but I’d rather hear from some of my “career admin” colleagues. Please share some examples you’ve run across. If you don’t feel comfortable posting them in this forum, you could always private message me. I am not able to take credit for the entire list, my fabulous colleagues shared some of these examples with me :)
Here we go …
The Differences between a Paycheck Admin and a Career Admin
I absolutely love the following blog post by Alan J. Blair on what makes a great executive assistant, because pretty much every word below could have been written by me. For weeks now I've been composing a list (with input from some other fabulous admins) of the differences between paycheck Admins and career admins. I hope you enjoy this read as much as I did.
Hello my feline followers, welcome to another gripping installment of my award winning column. I recently received a letter from a devout follower asking what traits make for the best Executive Assistant.
Well, myself and friend, the gorgeous Anna Wintour, have gone through a few in our time; and let me tell you, a good Executive Assistant is worth their weight in gold (or Bluefin tartar) which ever you preferrrrrr.
We at Alan J. Blair seek out the best of the best candidates for placement at elite firms around the Bay Area so we know the right stuff when we see it. Increasingly, Executive Assistant positions are high paying and very influential roles within a company – for the right person of course.
Here is a short list of what we have found makes an outstanding assistant:
Don’t hide under the desk in terror if your executive’s favorite bagel or kibble is sold out; research and find other, possibly even better, substitutes. Be adaptable. Don’t come to me with a problem if you value your life, come to me with a possible solution.
Be proactive in anticipating needs
I may be an all seeing and powerful cat, but don’t assume I will do something for myself when others can do it for me. For example, when organizing a meeting, one should prepare for every eventuality.
Have you rechecked the presentation materials?
Is the conference room stocked and prepared with everything that is needed?
When travelling to a meeting, will you need to pack my kibble, or will it be provided when I arrive?
A good Executive Assistant answers yes to each of these.
Excellent communication skills
As an Executive Assistant, one communicates with every level of staff from the CEO to the file clerk, working together to make their life easier. The secret to any team work is communication; letting everyone involved know where you are with a project at any given time.
Don’t miss the small things
An excellent Executive Assistant loves the details. Every box should be checked and doubled checked.
Documents and letters should be proofread and proofread again. One should take pride in all that crosses one’s desk. In such an important role you not only represent yourself, but your Executive and the company. That is something to be proud of.
Small Details/Big Picture
While a great Assistant needs to be on top of all of the tiny details, they need to also see the “Big Picture”. Executive Assistants are working directly for leaders of a company that hold the vision for the business and therefore they are asked to know that vision. Executive Assistants need to make sure that their efforts support the boss and the entire organization.
Blog by Alan J. Blair originally posted February 5, 2015
I want to thank Dru Kosik for directing my attention to the following takepart article. I don't watch Mad Men, so the characters are unfamiliar to me, but the subject matter hits close to home. I do not have a college degree.
This one sentence in the article really sticks in my craw: "Their résumés won’t pass the initial key word screening." I consider myself to be one of the top 10% of my field, but should I find myself back out on the job market for any reason, the "key word" screening software so many company use would eliminate my chances of getting an interview.
And the field of study I was focused on when I left school has nothing to do with what I do today, so I'm not sure why it should make a difference that I didn't complete the degree, but it does, and quite honestly, it sucks. I know many admins who don't have a degree that work smarter and harder than their counterparts with the piece of paper. I also know quite a few Admins who have taken enough continuing education courses (myself included) to count as a degree, but they don't.
One of these days it is my dream that HR won't knock the School of Life. I have a PhD from that university.
I'd love to hear your thoughts!!!
The Reason Why Peggy Olson Would Never Get Hired Today
Thanks to up-credentialing, the ‘Mad Men’ heroine’s résumé would have been passed over.
The final episodes of Mad Men are upon us, which means rabid viewers of the hit show have a last chance to reflect on how much Don Draper and company have changed—or not. And we all get to think about how much society has evolved in the decades since the era depicted by the program.
Indeed, on Sunday night, viewers were smacked back to the sexist reality of 1970 when (spoiler alert) Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway had to grin and bear some blatant harassment during the episode. Modern pay gap issues aside, it would be pretty shocking to see that kind of situation go down in a corporate boardroom today. But a subtle confession from Peggy during a date is a reminder that while plenty has changed for the better since the ’60s and '’0s, there are some doors that society is closing.
“I didn’t go to college,” Peggy anxiously confides to her date, Stevie Wolcott, during dinner at a swanky restaurant. “I went right to work.”
Stevie, who is Peggy’s coworker Mathis’ brother-in-law, isn’t fazed by the revelation that a professional woman doesn’t have a degree. We don’t even get to hear Peggy tell Stevie about how she started out as a secretary and worked her way up at Sterling Cooper & Partners.
But throw a degree-less Peggy into the current job market, and she’d probably have a tough time getting hired.
Thanks to the trend of up-credentialing, the college degree is the new high school diploma. The Peggys of the world probably can’t get a foot in the door as an administrative assistant at a modern-day version of Sterling Cooper & Partners—or at any other high-powered business.
Indeed, a 2014 report from labor market analytics company Burning Glass found that 65 percent of job postings for executive secretaries and executive assistants list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement. It’s not just executive assistant roles that require a degree. A quick spin through listings over at Monster reveals that most general administrative assistant roles require a college diploma too.
According to one typical posting, an administrative assistant will “be responsible for calendar management, coordinating travel arrangements, and special projects.” The candidate “must be extremely detail oriented, have excellent writing skills, able to work independently and in a team environment and possess excellent communication skills.”
That sounds like what Peggy—and any number of the women hired by Sterling Cooper over the years—was able to do without a bachelor’s degree. Heck, even Don Draper, the Horatio Alger of Mad Men, is a high school dropout with only a few community college classes under his belt. However, according to this listing, a “college education, a solid work history and proficiency with MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint is required” to be hired.
As Burning Glass points out, it’s not just administrative assistant positions that are being affected by the up-credentialing trend. In plenty of other roles, “the skill sets indicated in job postings don’t include skills typically taught at the bachelor’s level, and there is little difference in skill requirements for jobs requiring a college degree from those that do not. Yet the preference for a bachelor’s degree has increased,” the report’s authors wrote. “This suggests that employers may be relying on a B.A. as a broad recruitment filter that may or may not correspond to specific capabilities needed to do the job.”
Meanwhile, two-thirds of American millennials between the ages of 25 and 32 don’t have bachelor’s degrees. No wonder a Pew Research Center report released last fall found that more than 20 percent of people in that age group are living in poverty. Their résumés won’t pass the initial key word screening, which effectively shuts this generation out of a slew of careers.
So no, Peggy hasn't had it easy at Sterling Cooper. But without the ability to even get hired, this is a college degree–less generation that will, for the most part, never be able—like the secretary turned copy chief—to work their way up.
Article by Liz Dwyer originally posted to takepart on April 6, 2015
Today I want to take a moment to wish "happy birthday" to someone very important to me and to many Admins!! Nine years ago Kemetia Foley started the AdminRenegade blog. Kem selflessly shares her time and knowledge to help advance the administrative profession. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders.
Back in October of 2010 Kemetia reached out to me via LinkedIn regarding presenting a program on Travel Planning to her IAAP Chapter. That connection eventually led to other speaking engagements, then webinars ... then the creation of Audacious Admin.
I'm proud and grateful to call Kem my friend. If you don't already follow her via her via blog or on Twitter, you should.
Thanks for all your hard work, Kem!!
I love love LOVE this article by Aja Frost. How many of you have received invitations to connect and you don't have any idea who the person is or why they would like to connect with you? I get them all the time. We really should make the effort to personalize connection requests. I'm as guilty as the next guy of just clicking "connect" when in a hurry on the suggested connection page, which simply sends the standard message. Ms. Frost provides 10 templates for different circumstances. I recommend bookmarking this great info.
This morning, when I logged into LinkedIn, I had nine connection requests waiting for me. Some were from recruiters, some were from total strangers, some were from fellow writers, and some were from old classmates—but they all said the exact same thing:
“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
It baffles me that everyone isn't customizing their invitations—but in fact, very few people do. Those 300 characters can have a big impact, though: If you’re connecting with someone you know well, it’s a great opportunity to say something nice and reinforce the relationship. If you’re connecting with someone you don’t know well, it’s a great opportunity to remind him or her how you met. If you’re connecting with someone you don’t know at all, it’s your only opportunity to convince him or her to accept.
However, maybe your problem isn’t finding motivation—it’s finding what to say. That’s why I’ve created 10 templates for LinkedIn invitations, so no matter who you’re connecting with, you’ll have the right words. (Of course, you’ll need to adapt them to your own situation.)
1. A Colleague
Everyone loves feeling like their contributions have been noticed, so when connecting with co-workers, mention their projects, interests, or strengths. This is an ideal way to give your colleagues a boost and strengthen your professional relationships. It may even be just the prompt they need to endorse you or write you a glowing LinkedIn recommendation.
Although I've never gotten the chance to work with you directly, I've heard rave reviews about your sales techniques and ability to work with tough clients. Hopefully one of these days I can see you in action! ’Til then, I’ll catch you in the break room.
2. A New Colleague
Obviously, you’ll want to be less familiar if you’re connecting with people you've just met. Say you recently landed a role with a tech company and you want to connect with your supervisor. You should still compliment her and show you’re familiar with what she does—just be a little more reserved.
I’m so excited to join the product development department. The team’s innovation and commitment to always finding the best testing methodologies is one of the reasons I was so drawn to work at Jones Wheeler. Looking forward to contributing.
3. A Former Co-worker
You’d assume everyone you’d ever worked with you would remember you, but if you worked at a big company, if you only had the job for a year or two, or if it was a long time ago, you might find your connection requests being denied. There’s an easy fix: Describe exactly when, where, and how you worked with someone.
It was such a pleasure working together at GX from 1999 to 2001. Your computer troubleshooting skills were the best in the office—can you imagine if we had to go back to working on those huge computers? If you have the chance, I’d love to catch up and learn more about what you’re doing in your new role at Microsoft.
4. Someone You Know Casually
It may seem a little awkward to personalize a connection request to Joe, a friend of a friend who you've talked to at a couple get-togethers. The last time you saw each other, you were swigging beers—won’t it feel weird to slip into work-speak?
Yup—so don’t! Use a friendly tone, but reference Joe’s career to acknowledge you’re not at a party, you’re on LinkedIn.
I’m glad Aaron introduced us. Next time we run into each other, you’ll have to tell me more about what you do for Pfizer—I’ve always been interested in the healthcare industry.
5. Someone You Met at a Networking Event
When you’re trying to connect with people you only talked to for a couple minutes or hours, it’s important you remind them right away who you are. Give a reason for connecting as well. A good default is so you can keep tabs on their career, but you can also suggest meeting for coffee, trading tips, providing each other with new contacts, helping each other with projects, informing each other about open positions, discussing industry news—the possibilities are endless.
It was great speaking to you at the ESRI User Conference in San Diego last month. The mapping and charting work you do for airports sounded fascinating! I’d definitely like to stay up-to-date on your career.
6. Someone You Admire
Sending connection requests to total strangers is always tricky, because their first instinct is to say no. Again, it’s important to immediately establish who you are and why you’re reaching out. Prove you’re not just on a hunt to break 500 contacts by specifically referencing projects they've worked on or achievements they've made. (Bonus points if you find this info on an external site, not LinkedIn!)
You should also include an ask—the reason you’re reaching out. Maybe you want an informational interview, or a way to see what he or she is working on, or the opportunity to help him or her with a project. One exception: You should never ask for a job over LinkedIn.
Dear Erin Holt,
I’m a college senior interested in working in marketing. For the last year, I’ve been following your work for Bryan & Associates, and it’s really impressed me. I particularly loved your campaign recent campaign in The Atlantic—that multimedia component was totally unexpected and really effective. If you ever have 20 or so minutes, I’d love to hear more about how you started working in the field and what skills you believe are most relevant to the profession.
Thank you so much,
7. Someone in the Same LinkedIn Group
Maybe you’re in the Society of Professional Journalists group, and you notice one frequent poster always posts unique insights and relevant articles. Luckily, the fact you’re in the same group gives him an automatic reason to accept.
I’m also in the Society of Professional Journalists, and I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. The piece you shared a week or two ago about the future of data journalism was pretty thought-provoking. I’d love to keep in touch and learn more about your work.
8. A Recruiter
In general, you should contact recruiters with which you have something in common, whether that’s a mutual connection, participation in a professional organization, or membership in the same LinkedIn group. If you want to reach out but don’t have anything in common, career expert Jenny Foss recommends checking out what groups a recruiter is in and joining one of them.
Dear Samantha Kennedy,
I found your profile on the Association of Professional Women page and wanted to reach out to discuss potentially working together. I’m a social media strategist with six years of experience and currently seeking new opportunities. I’d love to chat about whether my background might be a fit for any of your openings, and I’d also be happy to connect you with other professionals in my field.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
9. An Alumnus
Most people feel fondly about their alma mater, which means your request has a good shot of being successful. Appeal to their school spirit, and, like always, prove you spent more than 30 seconds on their LinkedIn profile before you clicked “Connect.”
I see that you graduated from my current university, UC Berkeley—go Bears! I’m an aerospace engineering major and would be excited to hear more about your work with NASA. I’ll be in your area in a few weeks for vacation; if you have any free time, I’d love to meet up for coffee.
Thanks so much,
P.S. Did you watch Saturday’s game against Stanford? That last quarter was so tense.
10. Someone You Want to Work With
Perhaps you’re trying to get a side project off the ground, and you want to hire a graphic designer. Or maybe you’re a software engineer looking to collaborate with someone who’s really experienced in a particular coding language. Or maybe, like the writers that contact me, you want someone to bounce ideas off of and trade feedback with.
The key is making it explicitly clear the kind of relationship you’re seeking. If they’re not interested, you’ll want to know right away so you can move on to the next potential partner.
I was really impressed by the social media strategy you put together for Bella Bru Coffee Shop. I’m also a small business owner, and I’m interested in hiring you for a similar project. If you’re interested, let me know and we can arrange a phone call to discuss timeline, rates, scope, etc.
Looking forward to possibly working with you,
With these templates, you’ll never have to wonder what to write in that invitation box again. Good luck!
This article by Aja Frost was originally posted to The Muse.
If I had a nickle for each person that has told me they are not good at networking I'd be able to afford a full time barista to follow me around. A meeting I recently attended of a women's development group I belong to was devoted to improving networking skills. This GoGirl Finance blog by Kali Hawlk provides some creative networking ideas. I agree 100% with the volunteer idea. Since I started volunteering my network has grown by leaps and bounds.
For many of us, “networking” is close to a dirty word. Most people dread showing up to events with the sole purpose of selling themselves to strangers — all of them busy trying to sell themselves, too — in hopes of walking away with new connections that might lead to new positions, experience, and opportunities.
The problem with traditional networking is that it focuses on inauthentic ways to form relationships with other people. After all, how many genuine connections can you expect to gain from networking events that each person attends with the goal of advancing their own work or business goals?
And yet, networking remains a critical task for any career-minded individual. Finding a job or succeeding in a career can truly be a case of who you know — not what you know.
But networking doesn’t have to feel insincere or a to-do list item that you dread. In fact, you may even feel like you had some fun or found value in a variety of ways from these 4 creative ways to network.
Skip the stuffy symposium and dedicate some time to a worthy cause. Choose an organization that you care about and apply for a volunteer role that allows you to exercise the skills and abilities that you need in your career.
If you’re excellent at marketing and persuading people, consider signing up for a fundraising committee. If you excel in a managerial role, volunteer to organize the group’s next big event.
Volunteering allows you to show what you know and can do, instead of just telling people about it. And working with an organization that means something to you, or has something in common with your current line of work, puts you in contact with others who may share your mission or ideals.
Get Social (Media)
Social media is the introvert’s dream. It allows you to connect to the entire world via various platforms — without the high-pressure situation an in-person event might bring to someone who’s shy, or the energy drain a traditional networking session prompts for the introverted.
Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are all great options for online networking. Twitter makes it perfectly acceptable for you to reach out to someone who may be famous in your industry; all it takes is an @mention. Google+ is similar, in that you can add anyone to your circles and tag any person or company in your own updates.
LinkedIn allows you to display your knowledge and expertise via your profile, your updates, and what you post to their publishing platform. Although it doesn’t encourage intense interaction with total strangers, it does allow you to get to know people online via groups and discussions.
Join in and grow your network with social media. All it takes is, well, being social.
Start a Side Project, and Get Contributors
Most knowledgeable experts in your field enjoy opportunities to display that expertise. Asking people who would make valuable connections to contribute to or collaborate with you on a side project is an incredibly productive way to network and presents a win-win situation for everyone.
You can gain quality connections in your network and end up with a great project to add to your portfolio or resume. And the people you want to network with get the same. Everyone walks away with someone new they have experience working with, and as a bonus there’s something tangible left over: the project you worked on together.
Just make sure it’s easy for others to contribute to your project. You don’t want to make them jump through hoops or devote an extensive amount of time or energy to your work. It needs to be light, fun, and rewarding for the people you want involved.
Make Meetups Fun!
Who says networking events have to be stressful and stiff? Find creative ways to meet up with interesting people to expand your connections outside of industry events. Check out meetup.com to find established gatherings — or start your own!
You can get together with people who share professional experience and skills, or hang out with a group that participates in your favorite recreational activity or is passionate about a shared hobby.
Remember, networking doesn’t have to mean business attire at corporate events. Think creatively and find new ways to forge meaningful, sincere connections the next time you want to add to your network.
Blog by Kali Hawlk originally posted to GoGirl Finance on March 11, 2015
Once upon a time I found what appeared to my dream job ... on paper. I wanted this job. I applied. I reached out to friends that knew the CEO. I interviewed and was offered the job. And I was completely MISERABLE. I refer to that time as my 6 months of professional hell. Within weeks I reached out to recruiters to discreetly GET ME OUT OF THERE!! I complained so much my husband begged me to quit without having something else lined up, but that wasn't in my nature. All challenges in life teach us something. This one taught me to look closer at more factors before accepting a job offer.
This info-graphic published on Business Insider delves into factors other than salary job seekers should take into consideration.
In honor of my favorite holiday tomorrow, I share this fun LinkedIn blog Michael Fritsch on the career lessons you can learn from St. Patrick.
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!
Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17th as both a religious and cultural holiday. It marks the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick who was a 5th-century Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland.
When he was about 16, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Britain, and taken as a slave to Ireland. He lived there for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After becoming a cleric, he returned to northern and western Ireland with a mission of converting the Irish to Christianity, which was very successful. By the seventh century, he had already come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland. Although scholars say there are few confirmed details of his life, what we do know provides some valuable career lessons.
Lesson 1: Make the best of a bad assignment-learn what you can from it
“As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him”*
Lesson 2: When you get a clear sign that it is time to move on be decisive and take advantage of the opportunity to leave
“Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast.There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain, where he reunited with his family.”*
Lesson 3: The next step in your career may need a return to school/additional studies
“He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.” He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years. Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland”*
Lesson 4: You might have to deal with some snakes along the way or be careful to avoid them
Legend credits St. Patrick with banishing all the snakes in Ireland by chasing them into the sea after they attacked him. Although scientists tell us that post glacial Ireland never had snakes in the first place.
Blog by Michael Fritsch originally posted to LinkedIn March 16, 2015.
I almost stood up at my desk and cheered when I read this blog post by Tammy Cohen on the unwritten rules of professionalism. In my perfect world, these things would be taught in high school. Especially to dress for the position you want, not the one you have. And in this day and age I can't believe I still get either the "dead fish" or "man of steel" handshake on occasion.
Success in the business world generally depends on a balance of technical skill and interpersonal charisma. Even if you’re not the best at what you do, you may still be memorable for the impression you make on others. Alternatively, you may be the best in your business and still leave people unimpressed due to a lack of professionalism. Regardless of industry or title, anyone can make a good interpersonal impression by following these basic rules:
Over 25 years ago, when InfoMart first joined the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and began attending networking meetings, a Chamber executive took me under her wing and shared these unwritten rules. They have served me well and I hope they can serve you, too.
Do you follow any other unwritten rules of professionalism? Whether you learned a hard lesson or benefited by knowing an unwritten rule, I’d be happy to hear your stories and professional considerations.
President & Founder
Blog by Tammy Cohen originally posted to LinkedIn March 11, 2015
The Audacious Admin is Debbi L. Shaffer, an outgoing, resourceful and highly motivated executive assistant with 20 years of experience specializing in C-Suite Executive Support.