If 2020 were a Friends episode, what would you call it? ‘The One With All the Masks’, ‘The One With Too Many Zoom Calls’, ‘The One Where Kanye Ran for President’ or ‘The One We Didn’t Expect’? Whatever your answer, we would all agree that every inch of our planet has felt a seismic shift – from our healthcare and economies, down to the way we keep distanced from others when walking down the street or dining out at a restaurant.
At a time of ongoing and unexpected change, the way in which businesses operate, and their subsequent hiring strategies will continue to be impacted. Of course, there will be technical and functional roles which may not experience much change – then there are also all the operational and administrative roles which (core to the functioning of a business) may shift and evolve in some way. It seems that now is an opportunity to re-look at what Business Support roles can really be in a ‘post-pandemic’ time.
Career EAs and PAs: what does this mean for me?
With less travel for The Boss and much more of a focus on virtual meetings and working from home, this will certainly impact the day-to-day for those assistants spending a considerable amount of their time scheduling Tetris-like diaries, complex travel arrangements, accommodation, making reservations at a certain restaurant, at a certain time, at a certain table… and then everything needing re-arranging at the last minute! In such cases, some assistants might find themselves gaining potentially hours back into their day and it will become essential to prove wider ‘value-add’ where it may not have been in the original job description. For EAs supporting at the top, this may move towards people management and business operations; it is the time to leverage off your years of experience and be a confident decision-maker in a way that might not have been expected or needed before. This is where we will see the shift, with executives relying on their assistants to a new level, and what is essential for today’s job-seeker is the ability to demonstrate flexibility, confidence and the breadth in experience – what kind of a ‘Business Assistant’ can you be?
At the less experienced end of the spectrum – the ‘2nd jobbers’ who have begun to carve out a career with maybe 2-5 years’ of experience – the same will apply. You might have been hired as a Team Assistant with the focus being on administrative support to the Real Estate team, but would your Economics or Marketing degree come in handy too, even elsewhere in the business? Be tenacious and show willingness to be hands-on and adaptable.
Not forgetting those at the beginning of the road in an increasingly competitive job market – the school-leavers, business college and university graduates – you need to focus on gaining experience for your CV. It’s worth emphasising the importance of being open-minded relating to industries you consider – from Fashion to Financial Services, Media to Management Consultancy, all will have a variety of entry-level roles which will serve as a starting point to your career. Take a self-critical approach to your studies and decipher which soft and hard skills you have already gained as well as any internships or work experiences; from research and critical-analysis, written communication to technical software programs. In doing so, you will go from being ‘just open to anything’ to articulating what you can offer a company from the get-go and leveraging off your existing skills.
Passion With a Capital ‘P’
In this state of change, what remains true is the importance in showing true passion for the business you work for – or want to work for. It’ll be the companies built on committed, tenacious and resilient employees – at every level – who will survive and thrive. Whatever your stage of career, it’s important to take an inward look and ensure that your CV and your contribution to your existing company is truly reflective of your capabilities. Showing proactivity is always welcomed!
Victoria Wall Associates has over 30 years’ experience working with candidates across a range of Business Support disciplines, from graduates to seasoned professionals. If you are looking for a new opportunity or recruiting for your business, please visit https://www.vwa.com/contact-us and get in touch!
By Hannah King