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The Art of Being an Office Support Chameleon

The beauty of working in an administrative capacity is that if you have a “roll up your sleeves” attitude and strong work ethic, you truly have the ability to adapt yourself to different roles across a variety of industries in ways most professionals can’t.  “Your opportunities are infinite,” explains Jennifer Mrejen, Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Office Support staffing and Human Resource division.  “As a result, if your job-hunting philosophy dictates that you accept the first job that you are offered, you could be doing yourself a disservice.  Rather than looking for just a job, you should be looking for the right opportunity with the right company.”

Therefore, when looking for your next career opportunity, don’t worry so much about specific qualifications but rather about how well you connect with the organization and who you will support.  Consider yourself a chameleon and explore every avenue that seems interesting to you.  Like a chameleon, you have the ability to blend into different environments externally, yet remain true to yourself on the inside.  In other words, as someone who works on an administrative level, you can wear many hats, and the hat you choose to wear when applying to jobs should be dictated by how well you feel you can connect with the organization on a cultural level.  Once you established the job matches what you are looking for, show how you are more than qualified for the role by tailoring your resume and the way you present yourself in the interview.  To do this, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Tailor your resume to the job description you’re applying for. Most companies use applicant tracking systems to filter through the heaps of resumes that accumulate to find the candidate that is most relevant to the job they’re looking to fill. To push your resume closer to the top of the list, scour the job description and add any applicable keywords to your resume.  For instance, if you are applying for an administrative assistant position within a financial services firm that requires you to maintain and track employee timesheets, make sure you highlight your excel skills and any experience with project time management software.   Make sure you are also keeping up with industry-specific jargon.  For instance, if there’s a new technology that people in the industry are using, and you know how to use it, make sure to mention that.
  • Include an objective on your resume. Whilst reading the job description, try and evaluate what strengths the employer is looking for. Then in your objective, briefly explain why your background makes you qualified for the position. This is another place to include keywords.
  • At some point in the interview, ask, ‘What are the most important attributes that someone in this position should possess?’ Asking this question not only shows that you are interested in learning more about the position but it also gives you the chance to have a conversation with your interviewer and clearly explain in greater detail why you are the perfect candidate.  The answer to this question also allows you to make your own judgment as to whether or not you feel the job and the company culture are right for you!
  • Dress the part: In a similar vein, different organizations have different dress codes.  If you’re interviewing for an executive support role at a law firm where you will be expected to greet clients and other visitors, you should dress in business professional attire.  On the other hand, if you are interviewing at a retail company, it may be more appropriate to tailor your outfit to the image the brand portrays on their website.
  • Demonstrate your aptitude for learning.  “This is especially important to do when making the leap to an industry you don’t have much experience in,” stresses Jennifer Mrejen.  “We’ve had plenty of instances where clients have been flexible with industry experience as long as the candidate was able to express their abilities to adapt and learn new skills.” To do this successfully, Mrejen suggests that candidates list any professional certifications and/or any continuing education coursework on their resume.  During the interview, she also advises her candidates to try to weave an example of a time where they were able to overcome a challenge and explain what they learned from it, and how that made them a better employee.

The next time you look for a new job, remember, you should seek out places where you would be the most comfortable and where you can remain true to yourself.   Finding the right job, the right people to support, and tailoring your skills to meet the needs of the organization is a matchmaking process, and is often considered one of the most important parts of the job hunting process.  You never want to accept a job for the wrong reasons, and looking at a position from a cultural fit perspective, can help you find your career happiness.

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