Websites For The Week of February 5th

February 5, 2012 at 10:07 am | Posted in Resume, Weekly Readings | Leave a comment
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Previous weekly website lists can be found here.

Change sometimes can be a very good thing, especially these days.  This week’s theme is about career change.  Administrative Assistants have a variety of skills that can be transferred to another career.  I’ve actually thought about being a professional organizer lately.  These sites may help to satisfy your curiosity and get you started down another road.

The first step is to answer some questions and evaluate what change will mean.

Maybe the career change isn’t just for economic reasons, but as you look for work you realize that your current job doesn’t ‘fit’ anymore.  Find one that fits your personality better.

If you can stay optimistic and want to build your own business, read about entrepreneurship.  (*This is the Mind Tools website.  I get the newsletter and have the iPhone app from them.  It is a wonderful resource, set up a personal toolkit and explore on the site.)

Then you’ll need advice on how to write a resume for a career change.

If you’d like to look at information, courses, assessments, and tips just for women making career changes, try here.

Finally, there is a set of Field Guides to New Careers available in a series at amazon.

This week’s meditation

That’s it for this week. See what you like here. I’d love to hear from you about it. This week’s list is on a subject that I really think people can contribute to. Remember you can submit a website for the Sunday Readings on my How-To/Forum page.

Let’s Be SMART About This

February 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Business Ops, Tips and Tricks | Leave a comment
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I’m sure that many assistants know about the mnemonics to help them improve their productivity and set up projects.  Here is one of my favorites.  These tips can fit many different types of objectives.  It’s a step-by-process to successfully complete any goal by detailed planning.

S.M.A.R.T.

Specific: This is where the definition of the goal/problem solving process begins.  Specific goals are more easily accomplished.  This step uses the five W’s as the best way to focus and keep the goal action oriented, basically what would you like to see happen.  I think my favorite ‘W’ is How because when the benefits of the solution are considered I can focus even more on the other ‘W’s and the next steps.

  1.    Who is involved?
  2.    What could some obstacles be?
  3.    When should it be completed?
  4.    Why is this an important goal?
  5.    How will I get it done/benefit from the solution?

Measureable:  Establish the criteria for measuring the progress of your goal.  This is needed to set a schedule for due dates and to stay on track.  Being a list maker, this step keeps me motivated.  If there is a list of tasks or meetings associated with my project, deleting it from Outlook or crossing it off a hardcopy list gives me that feeling accomplishment and the feeling that I’m on the right track because objectives have been met.

Attainable:  This step is the decisive test for me.  The skills, tools, resources, and even financing are considered here.  Even if you have a good problem solving idea or a goal that you feel is important, it may not be doable now.  Here you can set yourself either up for success, or failure, so be honest about your needs.

Results-Oriented [some people use Relevant or Realistic here]:  This step keeps things moving towards success.  Each ‘sub-goal’ has to have the same importance when it comes to results. For example, if the third part of your solutions isn’t completed or doesn’t have the results you expected the goal would break down from there on.  There won’t be any substantial progress without it.

Timeframe:  Of course you’re going to have to set up a start and end date.  Don’t forget to track key milestone dates as you keep working.  This is a great way to remind you of the urgency of your desired accomplishment.

pro·duc·tive
[pro-duck-tiv]

adjective

1.    producing something abundantly and efficiently
2.    producing satisfactory or useful results

smart
[smaart]

adjective
1.    showing intelligence and mental alertness
2.    shrewd and calculating in business and other dealings

plan
[plan]
1.    a method of doing something that is worked out in advance
2.    something that somebody intends or has arranged to do

Websites For The Week of January 29th

January 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Job Search, Mental Health, Positive, Weekly Readings | Leave a comment
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Previous weekly website lists can be found here.

This week’s theme focuses on the job search and the winter blues. I know it’s been unseasonably warm here in Maryland, but even so we still all get those Winter blues.  Those of us job searching it can feel worse.

  • For just plain old resources for beating the winter blues check out this article.
  • There’s a step by step guide on Forbes magazine’s site.
  • More tips in a shorter form are here.
  • How to bust those blues in general in between filling out those applications.
  • Get some general tips for taking care of yourself if you have the job search blues, no matter the season are here
  • Since you’re more than a person looking for a job, if you have the winter blues or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) there’s lots of info on WebMD

 

Finally, here’s a picture to meditate on to remind you that winter isn’t forever.

That’s it for this week. See what you like here. I’d love to hear from you about it. This week’s list is on a subject that I really think people can contribute to. Remember you can submit a website for the Sunday Readings on my How-To/Forum page.

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

as·sis·tant
[uh-sis-tuhnt]
noun
1. a person who assists  or gives aid and support; helper.
2. something that aids and supplements another.

win-win
[win-win]
adjective
1. advantageous to both sides, as in a negotiation.

val·ue
[val-yoo]
noun
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

From Unemployed To Underemployed

December 8, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Posted in Business Ops, Job Search, Temping, Work Scenerios | Leave a comment
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I’ve now been at my temp job for a month.

I’ve realized what a different kind of experience this is for me.  If you’re an Admin. that’s chosen temping until something more permanent comes along, these points may end up being helpful or, at the very least, something to meditate on.

1. Getting to know a new office.  I think Admins are generally friendly people.  They have to be to succeed at work.  When you’re a temp, you’re almost a ghost.  I’ve found it tougher to ‘settle in’ because of this.  There may be an exception here given that I’m working for a state agency.

2.  The realization that you’ve been out of the business culture for a while and what that means.  I quickly got used to waking up earlier, going on a 45 minute commute, and dressing in business casual.  I’m still working at understanding certain business protocols and rules, dealing with upper management, and learning who takes care of what.

3. Understanding that you’re still a good worker, even though you haven’t been working.  This is something that I struggled with.  After about nine days I was wondering if this job was right for me.  I was feeling inadequate.  I took a night to think it over and reminded myself of my value as an Admin, the kudos I received at my old job, and that I am an intelligent woman.

4. The frustration of being in a ‘lower’ position or in one without as much responsibility.  This is one I only recently became aware of.  For six years I was under little supervision and had both Administrative Assistant and Office Manager tasks and obligations.  I was part of the office ramp-up, so I not only greased the wheels in that office, but I created the gears!  I don’t run the show anymore and I have to be careful not to step on anyone’s toes.

5. Making your resume look better.  Since I started my job search I’ve read hundreds of articles about resumes, interviews, dressing for success, just to name a few subjects.  One constant was to either temp or volunteer so potential employers see you’re staying on top of skills.  It’s one reason I agreed to take my current position even though it’s less money than I’m getting on unemployment.  So far I’ve been disappointed.  I’m working in an HR department.  I’ve had only a small amount of previous experience in this kind of work.  I thought it would be a great skill set to develop.  Right now is a slow time for state agencies.  I really don’t know why they rushed to hire me.  Most of what I do is filing and answering the phone.  I’m hoping for more training when the new year starts.  So is a potential employer impressed if you’re working at a level below the one of your most previous position?  I won’t know that until I interview again.

One thing for sure, I keep learning more and more about being unemployed.

HIRED

November 14, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Posted in Interviewing, Job Search, Positive, unemployed | 2 Comments
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I had an interview this morning with my state’s highway administration at 11:00 am.  Around 3:00 pm I got the word that they wanted me to start tomorrow.  So starting at 8:00 tomorrow morning I will again be a member of the workforce.  One thing to understand here is that I have moved from being unemployed to underemployed.  I got this job through the Jones Network staffing agency.  It’s considered an indefinite temp job.  I work a 40 hour week.  I’ll eventually get benefits through the staffing agency.  I’m hoping that they like me well enough that they will hire me full-time.

This will put a temporary stop to my search for a full-time job, but that’s fine with me so far.  Getting this job is good on many levels.  It’s getting me working and making money for myself.  That makes me feel better about myself.  It will look better on my resume, I get off the government pay check, and I feel better about myself.

I sent out 234 resumes since I became unemployed in March. I had about a twenty phone and face to face interviews.  Six of these interviews were with Johns Hopkins alone. Although it would have been great to work with them, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting.  Not in this economy and out of work for as long as I’ve been.  I took about a half-dozen of tests from Word to applied mathematics. I had about 25 rejections before an interview, just looking at my resume.  The rest of the employers did not get in touch one way or another.  I signed up with 5 temp and staffing agencies. Jones Networking was the only one that came through for me.  They are a professional, well-known agency and I recommend them highly.

Finally, the status of Debbie’s Desk:  I am going to keep writing on the blog.  I’ll be presenting my skills as an admin just as before.  I’ll be looking for ideas and feedback from my readers, just as before.

 

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