A career as an executive assistant is filled with opportunities to provide senior strategic support to a powerful business leader. As an EA, you can heavily influence the success of a company. Senior executives look to their EAs as their second-in-command, so it’s a big responsibility, and it’s very rewarding.
When you’re looking to build your executive assistant career, even if you are happy in your current role, it pays to think ahead. What will your next career step be? What sort of company do you want to work for? What kind of inspiring and clever people do you dream of working with? The way to get there is to start building relationships now, so when you’re ready to move, you’ve set yourself up for success.
Network and attend events
Attend industry events and meet as many people as possible. If you’re a woman, there are plenty of networking opportunities, such as Business Chicks and Her Business. Take advantage of free educational seminars, that give you a chance to learn valuable new skills. Also, they’re helpful in broadening your network. Seek out training courses and professional development opportunities and request that your employer covers the cost as part of your professional development training budget. Be an active and supportive member in relevant Facebook and LinkedIn professional groups. You never know where your next opportunity is coming from, so it’s valuable to build your reach now.
Maintain your LinkedIn profile
Nothing is more suspicious than a LinkedIn page that is dormant for years then bursts into activity. Keep your LinkedIn ticking along so it’s less obvious when you’re looking for your next executive assistant career opportunity. Post updates, share articles and comment on others’ posts. Invest in a professional headshot photo that shows you’re serious about your profession. Build your connections with industry leaders and people working for companies you admire.
On LinkedIn, it’s perfectly acceptable to add connections to people you haven’t met. Just make sure to send each person a tailored note in your connection request for a better chance of being accepted. Plus, make sure to connect with me on LinkedIn. I may be recruiting for your dream job soon.
Record your career achievements
If you apply for a new position in the future, you’re sure to be asked what you’ve achieved in your current role. So, start a ‘brag folder’ where you keep records of your career success. This could include:
- copies of reports on projects you were involved in
- emails, cards and thank you notes you may have received
- certificates of any training you’ve completed
- performance reviews
- data of any successes—such as improved financial performance, event attendance, better sales or more visits to the company website
You may choose not to use or share any of this information. But, it helps to have a record so you have plenty of achievements to work with when you are ready to apply for your next executive assistant role.
Seek value-based opportunities
Your dream employer or boss isn’t going to suddenly appear at your desk and offer you the career opportunity of a lifetime. So, seek out companies that you’d love to work for. Whether your passion is sustainability, charity, technology or fashion—someone has to work there, why not you? Aligning your career goals to a company that is in sync with your values is the most rewarding career move you can make. You’re more likely to be satisfied if you believe in and support the company mission. If you’re not in that industry already, do your homework. Find out the top players and follow them on social media. If possible, attend events where your dream employer is speaking or attending.
The old days of silently working hard and waiting to get noticed and rewarded with a promotion are over. So, take any opportunity to raise your profile in your organisation, and your industry. The staff in your current company may leave and you want them to remember you as a professional, capable executive assistant.
Play a long-term game
Dedicating just a few hours a week to implementing these tactics can lead to amazing results. It’s a career investment that’s worth your time and patience.
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