Career Development for Administrative Professionals: Helping Your Boss Help You Shine

Published Wednesday, July 28, 2010 1:17 PM

Lucky you, you have a great boss who recognizes your hard work and untapped potential and wants to help you move up the career ladder. For employees hoping to transition from administrative roles to a managerial or executive track, a mentor's interest is critical. 

Mentors can provide been-there-done-that advice and also advocate for a protégé's advancement. It's been said that "mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction." When your boss starts pushing you to increase your level of professionalism at work, it can be flattering but also daunting. How does one develop the professional qualities needed to move from the administrative track or to take on increased leadership roles?

Dress Professionally

Let's begin with what's easy. In order to be taken seriously, you need to dress seriously. A polished, professional look is a must when advancing up the career ladder. Different workplaces have different dress codes so there is no one-size fits all solution. Take a look around you at work and emulate the dress style of those at the top. A jacket and tie isn't always required but take care to be pressed and wrinkle free. Hair should be well-groomed, make-up understated. Not sure how to duplicate the look you see in the corner office? Many department stores have personal shoppers who can provide advice. While you can't judge a book by its cover, the reality is that appearances matter in the workplace. Take care to look the part.

Present Professionally

Cultivate a professional demeanor in your communications. Speak slowly, thoughtfully and deliberately. Be sure your written communications are polished and error-free. Monitor your use of slang and overly familiar banter. Our world has increasingly become more informal but what might be an appropriate way to talk off-the-clock, isn't always fitting at work. Good communication isn't all about word choice. Work on presenting confidence and poise. Be assertive when appropriate. If you can't advocate for yourself or your ideas, others will be less inclined to do so.

Think Professionally

A professional image and demeanor are key; you must also think like a professional. It's not enough to do your job well; you need to learn how to expand your role. Look for opportunities to add responsibilities. Identify problems but also propose solutions. People who think "It's not my job" may eventually be lucky to have one. Add to your skill set through outside classes or conferences. Be a team player, and avoid trafficking in office gossip. If you work well with others, you will have a leg up.

Above all, let your boss know you appreciate their guidance and mentoring.


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