Strategies for Advancing Your Career in Administrative Services

As a career-minded assistant, it’s easy to get to a place where you wonder, “Where do I go from here?”

Advancing as an assistant can take many different forms. For some, it involves climbing to the next level, becoming a “senior” support staff member or an administrative manager. For others, it means moving into a support position for a higher-level executive, assisting a CEO or CFO for example.

Regardless of what path you’re on, if you’re interested in moving up the ladder as an assistant, there are several strategies to better position yourself for success. These tips will help demonstrate your higher-level abilities and support your bid for promotion when the time comes.

Master the Fundamentals
As Joan says, “You have to master the fundamentals!” You can’t expect to move up if you aren’t already fully and completely (even exceptionally) competent with the basic duties and responsibilities of the role. If you’re still struggling with time management, organization, professional presence, and communication, focus on amplifying your skills in these key areas.

There’s no substitution for mastery. Proficiency isn’t enough. Become an expert in everything you do.

Take the Lead & Self-Manage
Demonstrate your ability to take charge, influence others, and see a project through from beginning to end. These kinds of leadership skills are only gained through practice and yet, they’re essential for advancement.

Show that you know how to collaborate and rally a group around a common goal. Prove that you can manage many moving parts with high-pressure stakes and deadlines and without a lot of supervision. The more you can self-manage and work independently, the more valuable you become to your executive(s) and the organization.

Be Vocal
Become an advocate for yourself! Promote your accomplishments in a way that is honest and confident, without going overboard. Cite specific achievements and the impact they had on the organization. The more you speak about facts and results, the easier it is. You’re not “self-promoting;” you’re simply sharing information.

Remember that people are busy, and they often don’t know the great things you do each day. You have to bring those things to light. Don’t hide in the shadows and hope that someone notices all you do.

Mentor Newbies
As you grow in your own role, help others to do the same. Don’t hoard your knowledge. Share it with others, especially those who are struggling. Mentoring shows you are team-oriented and not afraid of helping other people shine. You’ll establish a reputation for being a go-to resource—and you’ll probably gain all kinds of new insights along the way.

Ultimately, all of these strategies will show that you are at the top of your field right now, and that you can leverage your skills to support the entire team’s success. That’s exactly what managers are looking for when they promote employees.

Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach and corporate trainer who believes that work can be a nourishing, enriching part of the life experience. Her website,, is devoted to that mission. You’re invited to join the FREE Eat Your Career Resource Library where you’ll gain immediate access to dozens of tools to advance your professional skills and achieve career fulfillment.

Chrissy also has an amazing book called The Proactive Professional and some incredible ebooks and guides.

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25 thoughts on “Strategies for Advancing Your Career in Administrative Services”

  1. I’m fortunate to work at an organization where employee’s voices are (or seem to be) heard, and in my current position, I have learned to be more vocal and advocate for myself. I used to think that I would be rocking the boat, so to speak, but if you don’t speak up for yourself – in terms of workload, responsibilities, needs, etc – who will? My immediate supervisors have an open-door policy and are always available to discuss any concerns I have about anything. Additionally, as someone else commented, I’m always striving for personal & professional growth to increase my knowledge and skills to demonstrate my worth to the company, and fortunately, I’m one of the lucky ones who have job security at this time while the organization is undergoing structural change.

  2. Great suggestions, as always!

    In addition to the suggestion mentoring newbies, which typically occurs within one’s own organization, I encourage members of my admin networking community at to engage in co-mentoring: mentoring relationships formed by two persons of similar experience and background – and to connect with individuals from outside of their own organizations.

    Going outside the company walls to connect expands your network and provides a truly fresh perspective on your challenges and opportunities; it can also be especially valuable if your own work culture is currently stressful, draining or negative.

  3. After a 6 year break between jobs I am finding that refreshing, and re-mastering the basics is key to my success now. Especially in communication and organization. The way I do it at home, and 6 years ago is not exactly how they like things to be done. I feel discouraged at time, but I look at it optimistically and tell myself that I have to get started somewhere. I wouldn’t be here is they did not see the potential, I just have to see it myself. Ask for help when I need it and brush up on my basics.

  4. Great reminders for sure; we all are our own drivers in succeeding. Can’t succeed unless we grab the wheel and drive forward instead of looking into the rear-view mirror at the past!

  5. Tracy L. McCabe, CAP-OM

    Excellent article. I think the part about mentoring newbies is important. It is something I have been trying to do with our program assistant. She is just starting out in career so I am continually encouraging her to grow by taking on new responsibilities and participating in the different training that is offered by our training center.

  6. I think one also needs to continuously update themselves through trainings, attending conferences and joining professional bodies to remain relevant in the field. This will help in updating the core skills most especially during this age when technology keeps changing.

  7. Dianne Richards

    What a wonderful reminder of what I can do to help myself be the best I can be! Thanks, Chrissy & Office Dynamics for another informative article.

  8. I love the mentoring, when I started in the position I am now, Elizabeth helped me get situated and gave me advice. I have been in the position for 3 years now and I still contact her on some issues for advice and she give willingly helps. I try to do the same when new people come on board or even if they have been here a while, things will come up that they have not had to handle before and I try to help them.

    I always try to show them what needs to be done so they can do it by themselves hopefully next time or without as much help from me. Willing to share knowledge creates great contacts and friends.

  9. You also have to be careful not to be so good at your job that your boss will not promote you. I have had that happen more than once. It takes a special manager to be able to look beyond what’s good for them and help out with what’s good for their assistant.

  10. I love Chrissy’s advice. It’s always no-nonsense and is so true. After 27 years, I have only now come into my own as an admin. I’ve always been meek, never voiced my honest opinion about anything and have asked how others wanted things done, thinking the boss’ way was the best way. Contrary to my own belief, I have found that voicing my honest opinion, taking charge and speaking up for myself has gotten me noticed in a positive way. I have received two awards for my hard work and my boss, an elected official, has recognized me as well!

  11. I didn’t there was anywhere to “move up” here at my company. What I realized, with the help of my boss, was that there is always more responsibilities. Maybe not a title change, but he really encourages me to take more on. I have also found I must be vocal about myself and my responsibilities. He can’t read my mind! (shock eh?) 😀

  12. “Don’t hoard your knowledge.” That is such good advice. We have a tendency to want to hold onto our tricks and insights, don’t we? Plus, it’s sometimes hard to share with other admins without being perceived as arrogant.

  13. This is an excellent article. I am working this year on updating my “worth” by increasing my knowledge across many areas in order to make me a more valued employee. I love sharing some of the new things I discover as a move along. I feel like a kid in a candy store sometimes with some of the new tips I pick up along the way. Knowledge is truly power and I love learning.

  14. Linda from St. Louis, MO

    Great post, Chrissy. Thank you for sharing. I think of myself as a career-oriented Administrative Professional. I truly believe I was born to be an Executive Assistant. 🙂 I do try to grow in my position. I want to get better and better, not just for me but for my bosses. I really like to share what I’ve learned, too. We’re all here to help one another, so sharing (mentoring) is one thing I really enjoy doing.

    All the best to everyone.

  15. Love this article! I am a newbie but have been tasked with onboarding two new Admins as well as assisting a remote Manager..all before my 6 months! I love that my VP feels confident in me to give me these tasks.

    I work with a great Admin team and we all collaborate and help each other…to work and to shine!

    Keep the articles coming!!

  16. Sharon Chaplain

    These may seem common sense to some people, but there are some assistants out there who aren’t open to learning or mastering the basics. They think that if their superiors are happy with the way things are, they don’t need to improve anything. I used to think that until a boss told me to look at the Office Dynamics website and all they have to offer. It’s made a big difference in how I work, speak with people, and my whole work attitude.

  17. I think being vocal is definitely the biggest challenge for me, but it’s so important in this role. All a lack of communication will do is create unreasonable expectations regarding your workload and result in a poorer quality of overall work. Being vocal is definitely important! Thank you for pointing this out.

  18. I’ve learned everything I know to date through on the job training. I feel like I have “the cart before the horse” and I’m missing fundamentals so that’s where I’m going to start! Thank you for the great advice at the exact time I need to hear it!

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