The Add Value Assistant

January 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Business Ops, Opinions, Position Description, Work Scenerios | 3 Comments
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Ever since my first-long term job I’ve considered ‘add-value’ an important skill.  So decide what you can do to use all your talents and enhance the company productivity.  I’ll give two examples here.

The first company I worked with was in market research.  I was there for 18 years.  As a clerk I decided my add value would be as an aid to my manager.  It was a building block of my work ethic as an assistant.  I believe it was the primary reason I was promoted to Lead Clerk.  The responsibilities of this position were close to being an Assistant Manager.  Because our department was small that title was not available, but it isn’t a title that makes you a worthwhile employee is it?

My last job was very different from the first because I was working for a non-profit in an office that was just starting a ramp-up process.  This increased a comfort level and gave me a chance to get to know my Program Manager well.  There was only one other employee for a while.  My add values included rules that kept the Manager well-informed.  I started out with keeping track of the staff schedules via our web app.  Then moved to document creation that tracked and presented a variety of information, including: client’s current status, credit card and petty cash spending, monthly reports of staff hours in the field, sick days, off days, and training days to name a few.  These became increasingly useful and necessary as the staff and client load grew.

I don’t believe that add value exists without going above and beyond the call of duty.  Talking on other tasks and responsibilities is a must.  Although this can be tricky, you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, in the long run it’s a win-win situation.  Go ahead feel confident and present an idea for consideration.  Don’t insist or demand a change, but treat it as a dialogue.  When you see that a team member or a supervisor has a burden that is keeping them from performing their primary duties effectively, this is the time to step in.  The word ‘assistant’ is one that I take very seriously.  I know if I can offer to share the responsibility or give a suggestion to make the task more efficient, or to take on the task effectively, I jump at it! That’s add-value, you don’t take the place of the people you support, you enhance them.  This is where I came up with my motto, ‘I’m the little guy that makes the big guy look good.’

Here’s my most recent example of support to enhance a team member’s ability to get things done:

By the end of the month all electronic notes had to be complete and have the correct visit length entered.  With the majority of the staff spending most of their time out in the field  it was becoming increasingly difficult for staff to keep up.  Starting around the 7th workday of the month I checked this information, made entries into a custom spreadsheet, then created hard copy lists that were tailored to the needs of each staff member. In the simplest form possible it laid out the problem(s) with the electronic note, the type of correction needed and a deadline for completion.  This way people could budget their time to complete the task.  You’re a valuable member of a team and once you start smoothing the road for your teammates they’ll know it!

So now for definitions of the day

1. a person who assists  or gives aid and support; helper.
2. something that aids and supplements another.

1. advantageous to both sides, as in a negotiation.

1. relative worth, merit, or importance.
verb (used with object)
2. to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance.
3. to regard or esteem highly


Happy Halloween

October 31, 2011 at 10:33 am | Posted in Economy, Opinions, unemployed | 1 Comment
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Since everyday is scary for people who are unemployed I’m glad to find out that Occupy Wall Street is becoming Occupy Halloween today.

Here’s hoping that the 1% stop being zombies and wake up and become real human beings again.

Good luck to all you job hunters out there. Try to keep in mind that it’s all a numbers game and you’ll get a job.  Each day is closer and closer to that day.

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Two More Interviews

September 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Posted in Interviewing, Job Search, Opinions | Leave a comment
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I just got back from my second interview of the week.  Yesterday my interview was with a local prep school for the position of administrative assistant to the Director of Finance and Accounting.

Today’s interview was with a local hospital for an ‘as needed’ medical records clerk.

I severely sprained my ankle last Friday and I still can’t put my full weight on it.  I’m limping along using a cane.  I didn’t want to cancel my interviews so I gritted my teeth and went to both, chauffeured by my husband since I can’t drive yet.  What better way to look dependable!  In both interviews I was asked about  my attendance at work, which has always been excellent, I stressed that and then said, “I even come to work with a sprained ankle”.

The interviews this week both were panel ones, three and four people.  I’ve heard this is becoming more and more common, but hadn’t experienced it before.  At first I thought it would be more daunting, but in the long run I think I like them.  I’ve dealt with the Human Resources person, the direct supervisor, and the department head or director all at once.  I like dealing with the different personalities and different types of managing.  I like the different types of questions I got from the different points of view of what may become my working relationship with the panel members.  I think it’s good for the prospective employee because more than one opinion is used in the final hiring decision.  I suggest to anyone who knows this type of interview is coming up to prepare by thinking of the typical interview questions, then think about the different ways they may be asked depending on which management person you may be dealing with.  For example: one person may ask “Tell me about one of your weaknesses at work”, another may say, “What are you doing to correct your weaknesses on the job?”  There is a difference here between recognizing a problem and solving one.

At least for the next 48 hours I’ll rest my foot, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

Common Courtesy Is Rare

June 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Posted in Business Ops, Interviewing, Opinions | Leave a comment
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What has happened to common courtesy?  What about basic business communications?
I realized this week that I have had no replies to very specific e-mails I have sent inquiring about past interviews.  This includes two interviewers and my contact at a temp agency I have signed up with.

I still see one of these jobs in the e-mail alerts I get from several different sources.

Does it mean that the HR department is waiting until they get all the applications after a certain period to review them?  Is it that I wasn’t right for the job and they are still looking?

I guess when you have a job you can’t empathize with the people who are anxious about being able to work again.  One more thing to keep me a cynic.


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Unemployment, Politicians, and My Rant

June 24, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Economy, Opinions, unemployed | 2 Comments
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WARNING-This is one of my political rants

I’ve become and avid reader of anything I can find about unemployment on the internet.  Below are what my research has found over the past couple weeks.  I don’t think any other preface is needed.

Senator Paul Rand:
“As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that’s less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again,” Paul explained.  “Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen.”

Sharron Angle:
I would have voted no, “because the truth about it is that they keep extending these unemployment benefits to the point where people are afraid to go out and get a job because the job doesn’t pay as much as the unemployment benefit does.  Moreover, what we really need to do is put people back to work.”

Senator Judd Gregg:
Said extended benefits undermine the economic recovery because they “basically keep an economy that encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment.”

I disagree with all these comments because I’m not given the credit of being a citizen that has self-respect, wants to contribute to the society, and earn my way.  I’m well-educated and have a Bachelor’s degree.  I was told that this education would make me a valuable employee that would be in higher demand.  I don’t know about other people receiving unemployment compensation, but I’m only getting about two-thirds of my pay when I lost my job and I’m not getting any satisfaction in using my unemployment card to pay for things.  I don’t feel entitled or that I’m on some vacation the government is paying for.
I still have to pay taxes on the money I receive from unemployment insurance.  I’m someone who hasn’t been out of work for the past 24 years, I’ve been unemployed for three months now and I want a job!
My dream would be for any of those people, or anyone who believes what they say, to lose their job.  I want them to go through the process of applying for Unemployment Insurance.  I want them to be told to practice saying, “You want fries with that” and take that job just to get off Unemployment.

Remember this: thoughts turn into words and words into actions.  So far, all I’ve heard are things like “we have to get people back to work”.  What’s the plan out there that will help the span of the middle class?  All I ever hear are ideas that seem to be “short-term economy”.  If you think I may have some facts or information wrong, please enlighten me.  I have done several searches to try to find any information, biased or not, that has a real plan for the high unemployment.  I’m tired of reading rhetoric and listing to spin-doctors.  I’d almost rather hear “we don’t know what the plan is yet, but we’re working on it” than the crap I’ve heard so far.

Finally, let’s check the statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics .  According to the most recent stats (those of May), 13.9 million Americans were out of work; of those 822,000 were “discouraged workers”.  Discouraged workers are persons not looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.  That means that only 6% have stopped looking for work, usually that means they can’t collect unemployment either.  To collect, in most states, you must be able to prove to the state that you have looked for work over the past two weeks.

If you don’t like the situation you’re in, if you don’t like what your government is doing, if you don’t even understand where others stand on the issue of jobs and unemployment let your representatives know and do research.
A good place to start is The Office of the Congressional Whip’s page on jobs.

For more information on how to get in touch with your legislators check out my How To page’s section, Write Congress

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