Should You Hire Your Own Assistant?

So you’re in the market for your very own assistant.  You want someone who can really get stuff done, hit the ground running, and mesh well with your existing team.  You have a list of wants and needs, and are ready to run to America’s favorite job boards and post the vacancy and start collecting the resumes of perfect candidates.

Don’t do it to yourself. Unless you have extensive administrative experience, or experience hiring administrative professionals, you shouldn’t hire your own assistant.

More than likely, you’re a very busy person, which is probably why you want to hire an assistant in the first place.  Hiring administrative staff is a daunting, time consuming task.  With all of the drama the bad ones can bring—from theft to fraud—hiring an administrative assistant is a task better left to the professionals.

First, you don't always know what you need. Administrative personnel keep your life in order.  As the boss, that’s often all you care about.  The truth is, there is a limitless number of duties that can be assigned to an assistant.  A good recruiting firm will understand the intricacies of the job order better than the client themselves, and they have experience hiring for similar positions which enables them to make good decisions about what you really need in an admin.

Second, by going through the hiring process alone, the chances of getting exactly what you want in an assistant are slim, and you will spend countless hours sifting through resumes that aren’t a good fit. A good staffing firm already has a strong candidate pipeline since they are always interviewing to keep a good pool of candidates to choose from. Sometimes you can’t wait to hire someone—you need the help now.  That’s when a staffing agency comes in handy.  Everyone in their pipeline is pre-screened. Most often they have already conducted an in person interview to screen for appearance, poise and communication skills and they have already tested their skills.  So, no more hoping someone is telling the truth about their Microsoft Office skills. You will not waste time interviewing candidates who don’t display the right image or who later test poorly on office skills.  Staffing agencies keep candidates honest.

Third, it’s not easy to be an honest judge of self-character.  You may think you’re really nice, or really easy to work with, or “super chill,” and you may be in social settings, but there’s a little something we like to call “professional chemistry” that’s really important when it comes to fostering a positive work environment.  Most people are different at work—where they may be under a tremendous amount of pressure—versus in social settings.  You know you in both situations.  Staffing agencies know you only professionally, giving them a better idea of personality fit in an assistant.  A good staffing agency understands how personalities mix—a vital piece of employee retention (and, in case you didn’t know, replacing employees can be more expensive than having hired them in the first place ).

Finding a great administrative assistant for your staff can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.  C-Suite Assistants understand the ins and outs of hiring administrative staff. With skills-tested, pre-screened candidates and a knack for finding that needle in a haystack, we specialize in high-caliber administrative professionals for small and big businesses alike.

Call us today with your hiring needs! 212-867-4678

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Will Assistants Lose Their Jobs to Tech?

It’s no secret that many technology companies and entrepreneurs are out to create both software and hardware that automates everything and anything it possibly can.  From rudimentary assistance like the iPhone’s Siri, to email and background checking like Charlie, to in-home apparatus like Jibo, it seems like assistants can be easily replaced with the swipe of a credit card and the purchase of a few gizmos and gadgets. 

But is administration really at risk?  We think not.  Software and hardware is great if it’s used to its maximum capacity, but even software that’s been around for decades is rarely used to its full extent.  Take the Microsoft Office Suite, for example.  Eighty percent of Microsoft Office users only use 20% of its functionality.  Some of the most useful tools in Office are underused everyday by your coworkers, your boss, and even your friends. But you are a different animal; the best administrative assistants have mastered the Office Suite among other programs. 

It’s crucial to remember that these “virtual assistant” replacements are merely tools.  Emailing tools like Charlie and Rapportive are great for doing preliminary legwork on people’s backgrounds, but chances are, the personal bits of information—that someone is a vegetarian, that they are a huge Yankees fan, or that they severely dislike tardiness—probably won’t be on their LinkedIn profile.  The real work involves a human aspect that only an assistant can provide.  Assistants can’t be hacked into like software.  Assistants understand the nuances of the executives they support; they do not run on algorithms or voice recognition.  They work based on intuition, instinct, and experience, something that can’t be taught to a computer program.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that people prefer to work with other people as opposed to technology, and why wouldn’t they? Human assistants are intuitive, kind, empathetic, funny, loyal, considerate, and a host of other adjectives that a smartphone could never be.  Technology is preprogrammed and cold, and won’t make sure it’s a “good time” before it interrupts you with a text or a phone call.

So, are assistants at risk for losing their jobs?  For now, probably not.  For Rodney Brooks, a former MIT robotics professor, “these machines are going to help workers, not compete with them. He points out that personal computers didn’t get rid of office workers, they changed the jobs people did. When it comes to robots, ‘it’s not a one-for-one replacement,’ he says. ‘People are so much better at certain things.’” 

 

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3 Things Assistants Can Do Better Than You

Anything you can do, they can do better.

Assistants are sometimes perceived—incorrectly, might we add—as workers with no real skills, little personality, and minimal ambition.  Truth is, assistants run the office.  They are, in fact, the most powerful person in the office. They know everything—account numbers, passwords, who takes lunch when and with whom—they are privy to more information that the CEO herself.  And they have the skills—soft and technical—to back it up.

Here are 3 things assistants can do better than most people.

Adapt to change.  Assistants are built for the unpredictability that their job offers.  No two days are ever the same, and good assistants thrive on that.  It keeps them on their toes and keeps them mentally fresh.  They can shift gears at a moment’s notice.  Assistants adapt to change really well, whether it’s a change in a procedure, change in scheduling, or a change in their boss’s mood, they always know what to do.

Keep a secret.  It’s an unwritten rule for administrative professionals that they are never to form or join cliques.  Assistants operate under strict discretion.  They know all of the happenings of the office, and they don’t take sides.  They are little bundles of diplomacy and neutrality—mini Switzerlands, if you will.  And this is important, not just for assistants, but for any job.  No one wants to be known as the office blabbermouth.  For assistants, especially, who deal with sensitive information day in and day out, this is an exceptional quality to have.

Pleasing people.  When was the last time YOU went above and beyond to help someone?  Well, assistants’ standard operating procedure is to do just that every single day for every single person that crosses their path, even when they aren’t in the mood.  Assistants are great at pleasing people, ensuring that everyone they come in contact with has the absolute best and most positive experience they could have.  After all, they are a direct reflection of their boss, and the face of the company. 

Admins, next time you’re feeling down, remember all the things you’re great at, and stiffen up that upper lip.  Not everyone can do what you do.

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Don’t Let This One Bad Thing Ruin Your Entire Day

For administrative assistants, a good day means the office ship sails smoothly through any rough waters it may encounter.  A good day means perfectly executed emails, successful extinction of figurative office fires, and happy, positive interactions with coworkers, clients, and your boss.

But, alas, we are all human, and from time to time, even the best assistants will make a mistake.  These errors, big or small, can seriously rattle your confidence, and sometimes cause you to panic and snowball through the day into bigger disasters.  When you feel like you’re “messing up” you can actually start to legitimately mess yourself up; that negative thinking bleeds into everything you do for the rest of the day, and, if you’re not careful, the week.

Losing your confidence can ruin your entire day.

Here are three easy ways to come back from a setback, and regain your confidence.

Take a walk.  Think of your workspace as a relationship; sometimes, you just need some space, and that’s OK.  It doesn’t mean you won’t come back and continue to be the amazing assistant you know you can be.  It just means you need to take a brief time out.  Taking a walk outside is ideal, but if you need to do a few laps through a different department or another floor, that works well.  A study found that increased temperature had a positive effect on mood, so stand by a window and catch some sunlight if you absolutely can’t leave the office. 

Phone a friend.  We all have that friend that no matter what is going on, they always manage to put a positive spin on things.  It’s difficult to remove yourself from a situation and see things diplomatically, but a third party will be able to help you put things in perspective and come up with solutions to whatever it is that has you down, rather than dwelling on the problem.  If all else fails, you can always call Mom; she’s bound to have nice things to say about you!

Strike a pose.  As Harvard Business professor Amy Cuddy says, “Fake it until you become it.” Cuddy, whose TED talk is among one of the most viewed on the site, says, “Standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.” So next time you’re feeling unconfident, take a cue from Cuddy, and strike a Wonder Woman. 

How do you regain your confidence? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Target Your Job Search for Better Results

As most job seekers know, looking for a job is a job in itself.  Candidates can spend countless hours on job boards sending their resumes and cover letters out to hundreds of openings and still end up empty-handed.

For better results, we recommend targeting your search with these four tips.

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