Career development as an Administrator: Part 3 Expanding your knowledge
One of the best ways to stay ahead of the game and ensure your application stands out above the rest – or that you get noticed for a promotion – is to ensure you keep up to speed with developments in your sector. Employers will be attracted by applicants that show initiative and the ability to self-educate, as well as those who show dedication and ambition to what they do. Whilst GCSE and A-Level qualifications show academic commitment they do very little to show work competency, so if you can’t gain the experience you need to get noticed, there’s an alternative way.
Ideally, the company you work for will be forthcoming in supporting your development with proactive training, but by showing your commitment to your own progression; you are also illustrating dedication to your career and your goals.
- Software development: Many, if not most, administration roles rely on software and technology to efficiently complete their daily tasks. Whether you’re using Office packages, financial software or medical/legal databases, ensuring you’re competent with the systems and aware of the latest versions will keep you at the top of your game and make you more attractive as an employee. And this doesn’t only stand for software directly associated to your role – developing knowledge and usage of programmes and tools that could be used to enhance your job role is a sure way to get noticed and maybe even start to be pulled-in on other projects and areas of the business that you were looking to enter. For example, graphics packages, accountancy software/book-keeping etc.
- New and old skills: Despite the rapid, ongoing development of software and online tools to make people more efficient and productive, many organisations still hold traditional techniques dear – such as shorthand and keeping paper trails. The more au-fait you are with both old and new techniques, the more marketable you become and the more opportunities you will open up for yourself.
- Professional development: As mentioned in the professional membership section, gaining relevant industry-recognised qualifications or related degrees such as a Business Admin degree for your CV will make employers sit up and take notice. Such courses/qualifications will also give you a strong foundational knowledge for the roles you undertake and will equip you to be more efficient, confident and credible in your workplace.
- Your organisation may sponsor you to complete external courses and qualifications such as these, but – depending on your employer – there may also be development courses run in-house that could bolster your knowledge and progression. Usually, your HR department can give you more information on what’s available.
- Self-education: The downside to professional qualifications, of course, is that they can be costly. If finances are a barrier, self-education can develop your skills and give the same message to a prospective employer – that you’re serious about your career and development. The internet is a superb tool now for exactly this and can support your text-book learning. YouTube videos, blogs and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses – such as Coursolve, Stack Exchange and Udemy) provide free learning and very often put you in touch with professionals in your sector.
The MOOCs particularly can really expand and challenge your current knowledge, with many offering actual projects for you to contribute to, with feedback and advice from industry know-how’s.
- Understanding your sector – or your goal sector: A side-line of personal development, building up your knowledge of your sector and profession will also bolster your employability and will bring credibility to workplace conversations. Make a point of reading industry news (e.g. financial, legal, medical, charity, or government – whichever sector you’re in) and pick up on mentions of your sector in mainstream news. Get up-to-speed with the current affairs of the field you are in; this deeper understanding will make you more confident and may even help decide which direction you want to take your career. It will also enable you to have a different level of conversation with senior stakeholders, putting you on their radar if you already weren’t, and will mean you have the tools to wow at any interview.