I get a surprising amount of between-jobs people coming to me and saying the following:
JOBHUNTER: ‘No one’s hiring in my field so I’m looking for admin work – just as something to do for a while’.
Caring Career Coach: ‘And how does admin work fit with your background?”
JOBHUNTER: ‘I’ve spent the last 10 years as a senior ad sales manager’
Caring Career Coach: ‘Hmm, so no actual admin experience…’
JOBHUNTER: ‘No. And I don’t actually want to do admin work, but I know it’ll be easy to get because it’s just filing and making tea, and I’ve done much bigger and better jobs so they’ll just fall over themselves for me’
Caring Career Coach: ‘You’re a self-absorbed idiot. That’s why you don’t have a job. Bye!’
Just joking of course! (I don’t say that sort of thing until at least our second meeting)
But seriously, there are a lot of experienced, smart professionals out there thinking that they can ‘always pick up admin work’.
Because I do care, and I don’t want you to waste your valuable job hunting time, here’s why you should put the admin fantasy to one side and focus on something more ‘you’, right now:
Put yourself in the shoes of an admin hiring manager:
HIRING MANAGER: “I need someone who is experienced enough to cover for my PA who is going on maternity leave. My PA is really important – she runs my life and this office, so make sure the replacement knows their stuff”
HR: “Great, I have the CV of a guy who has spent the last 5 years as a banking lawyer and enjoys hunting whelks in the Antarctic. Oh, and the CVs of 20,000 experienced PAs”
HIRING MANAGER: “Screw the PAs, bring in the whelk murdering banking lawyer! How lucky are we to have him! PAs have no actual skills do they? I’ll happily spend the next 3 months showing him the ropes. Incidentally I’m on holiday next week and my Shitzu puppy is filling in for me on the teleconference with New York”.
Admin roles may not always need the levels of experience of a really great PA – yes, some of them do revolve around filing. However they are still roles that need to be done efficiently, and where people with the right experience, and who are most likely to fit into that environment, are likely to be have an advantage in getting the job.
They are not an easy fallback.
In this environment, Admin roles are SWAMPED with applicants. Really swamped. Because so many people are thinking like Ms Ad Sales or Mr Banking Lawyer above.
If you are 100% serious that admin is what you want/need to do right now, then by all means spend all your jobhunting energy on revamping yourself and your CV to stand out from the hundreds of admin experienced applicants.
If you do it right, and if you do have the necessary skills, then yes, you’re in with a chance. But don’t kid yourself that these roles are open to just anyone with office experience and a CV – like any role, you need to present yourself properly.
What else can you do?
If you’re only looking for admin work halfheartedly (hello to most of you!), then you will be better off using your time to think outside the box in terms of:
A) job options which value some of your skills, strengths and experience
B) how you present yourself.
This does not mean only going for roles identical to those you have already done.
It means capitalizing on your specific skills and figuring out where they will be valued. In doing so, you cut out the thousands of people who haven’t thought like this, only thought they had generic ‘office skills’ and so just apply for admin jobs… and are probably still applying fruitlessly today.
Marianne Cantwell is a Free Range Human, and a career change expert. She helps mid-career professionals figure out what they REALLY want to do with the rest of their lives. Marianne gets her clients thinking outside the box, excited and motivated to create remarkable, awesome, simply wonderful careers they truly love. Visit Marianne’s site Free Range Humans and be sure to follow her on Twitter @FreeRangeHumans.