RECOGNIZING ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS DAY 2023
A few reflections on a work holiday that has been around since 1952 when the U.S. Secretary of Commerce proclaimed June as National Secretaries Week. As workforces evolved, the name changed to Administrative Professionals and the day of recognition was designated as the last Wednesday in April.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted that the role of the administrative assistant is declining, despite the fact that there are over 350,000 job openings listed annually. The need for administrative support in the workplace remains consistent, but the role and skill set changes as the marketplace evolves. While the term “secretary” is still sometimes used to describe administrative assistants, it is becoming far less common and is often seen as a stereotype.
My VIEW OF THE MARKETPLACE
I became a recruiter for Administrative Professional talent in 1986 and have placed thousands into positions at all levels of the corporate ladder in these last 36 years.
I have seen both positive and negative changes. An administrative professional is anyone working in an office environment supporting an executive or a department.
When I began, there were Receptionists, Secretaries and Executive Secretaries. Titles certainly have changed. Now, along with Administrative Assistants, I see Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants, Administrative Coordinators, Chiefs of Staff and Chief Administrative Officers. Along with titles changing, responsibilities have evolved with the needs of the company or the executive they support. Today’s Admins have a much more strategic approach to what they do and how they are viewed. The job is no longer just getting coffee and scheduling appointments, and it hasn’t been for many years. Executives see their Assistants as: a sounding board, a confidante, the eyes and ears of the company, an event planner, a voice to the customers and so much more.
Being an admin is often a stepping-stone to many positions in the company, but it is absolutely a respected profession on its own and many enjoy the prestige of being a true right arm and trusted business partner to the executive they support.
According to Zippia, there are over 2 million Admins currently employed in the United States.
87.3% are women, while 12.7% are men and the average age of an employed administrative assistant is 50 years old. Demand is highest in the New York City region, while San Francisco offers the highest wages for this job title.
Interestingly, the need for a support professional remains, the world has just put a different spin on it. The Virtual Assistant industry is now projected to grow at a rate of 24% through 2028 and is currently valued at 2.48 billion dollars. The difference between a Virtual Assistant and a traditional Admin is basically location and the cost of employing someone inhouse or outsourcing tasks and relinquishing control over the assistant’s schedule and workflow. Virtual or in the office, Administrative Assistants are integral members of teams who provide critical support, organizational effectiveness and technological savvy.
Work advice columnist, Alison Green wrote a very compelling article last year on Slate.com titled, “The Weird, Demeaning Office Ritual That Has to Go.” She talks about how the recognition the day was meant to generate has turned to patronization. She writes, “Administrative workers do deserve recognition and appreciation! They serve a key role in keeping organizations functioning, and plenty of companies and executives would fall apart without them. Their work is also far from unskilled—it takes intelligence, organization, judgment, and significant diplomacy to do well. Admins deserve respect and appreciation year-round and pay that reflects their contributions. Cards and flowers don’t cut it. If nothing else, maybe next year we can change it to Pay Your Admin More Day.”
It is my goal to bring together the best and brightest of this profession to the benefit of both employee and employer. I want to help bring change to the culture and perception of the role of today’s Admin – they certainly deserve it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barbara Cohen Farber is a 30+ year veteran of the recruitment and search industry and has placed thousands of individuals into successful roles over the course of her career. Whether you are looking to make a change in employment, or you are in need of hiring talent, she is reachable at LinkedIn or via email: BCohenFarber@LLoydStaffing.com
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