Editor’s note: Our friend, Alyson, is back for another guest post. Her last post about a horrible interviewer is here.
I’ve been a “Jill of all trades” for as long as I can remember. In middle school, I was the first girl with a subscription to Cosmopolitan magazine, and became the “go to” girl for advice in makeup, fashion and all things that parochial school girls should not be privy to at that age. What can I say, I found a niche market, and being a 10 year old with knowledge was pretty good back in the day.
As I’ve gone through college and into adulthood, I’ve heard a lot of criticism for being a “Jill.” I’ve had the opportunity to work at various places across the country, and each time I’ve moved, someone always has an opinion on what I should be “looking” for in my next position.
One of the worst suggestions I’ve ever heard is to “hold out for management.” Excuse me? What does that mean? Oh, well it was explained to me that I should always turn down other jobs and wait until that one miraculous management position opens up, because I’ve had too much experience in other fields. Of course because that makes perfect sense. I can’t pay any bills because I’ve been out of work, so I’ll hold out until one of those management jobs opens up (another four to six months).
Let me tell you what you should really be telling someone who is applying for jobs and gets an offer that’s “less than management,” you should tell them, “GO FOR IT! TAKE THE JOB!” … and here’s why.
When I was working in Baltimore, I was the first person in the office in the morning and the last person to leave, and that was fine with me. I knew where everything and everyone was at all times. I told people when they could use conference rooms, what airlines they could fly, why their expense report looked like it was in shambles (and I knew how to fix it before they sent it off to HR), and when I wasn’t there, someone called me on my cell phone to ask permission for almost everything. I wasn’t the CEO or the VP, though I had their schedules memorized and if you wanted to see them, you saw me first … I was the office administrator.
I’m a proponent of taking the administrative position to start out, especially if you have the skills to be an amazing administrator. The administrator of the office is just as important as the CEO. I’m not trying to bring down the awesome upper management out there, but really, without a “gate keeper,” the drawbridge of your company is left open for others to “charge the castle.”
When you take an entry level position (which some administrative positions are, and some aren’t), it shows that you can work hard, and gives the upper management time to get to know you a little better. They get a chance to work with you, see if you’re someone they can count on to be there and assist them with the day to day. If you can do that, they become a little more trusting that you can finish a project. The next thing you know, they’re moving you to your own office, creating a title for you and asking you to help hire your administrative replacement.
These jobs though, are not to be taken lightly. I’m not saying that being the administrator is going to be easy, or that you should just be taking the job to get a leg up (though yes, moving up is a good goal); I’m saying that DON’T hold out for the management position. If you know you can make a splash in that company, show them by being an amazing asset first, and showing off your skills in other aspects will come with time.
I refuse to hold out for management, even though I have been a manager before, I know that I am an amazing administrator. I can keep the castle gates from being stormed. I am tenacious and head strong, and I love a good challenge. I love walking into a board meeting as the administrator those first few weeks, and then walking out as an equal having raised my hand and given a suggestion that worked out.
Stop “holding out for management” and do something to show them you’re worth hiring, keeping, and promoting. Remember, being a “Jack or Jill of all trades” can turn your administrative position into your dream job.
Alyson has started her own blog about food at Confessions of a Culinary Rebel.