I just finished reading an article about hard to fill jobs on Monster.
One of the hard to fill jobs is Administrative Assistants.
Well, as someone who has applied for numerous administrative assistant positions since oh, forever, both before and after finishing college I have some idea of why these jobs are hard to fill.
Here are 11 tips to future employers:
1) If the pay is lousy the employee won’t care — Most of the time the employer requires a tremendous amount of skill, yet wants to pay fast-food wages. Personally, if I am going to use my brain, (and believe me, I want to) I would like to be paid a living wage, thank you very much. Honestly, I got paid more in the 1980’s and early 1990’s for administrative assistant work via Manpower, than is often offered to me today. (I do live in Alabama, but it seems to be par for the course elsewhere too)
2) Hire older people — From my experience, most employers want to hire young people, which is fine, except — there are plenty of older people like myself who are more qualified, and more dependable than a younger person. Employers should not overlook people in midlife for these positions. We are really organized, and will do wonders for your office. Even a Mom who has all the right skills, who has mostly been a stay at home mom, is a good choice. Look harder at her.
3) It’s the economy stupid — Don’t penalize people if they seem to have job hopped or have a break in career due to child rearing or because they took bad jobs. Consider skills over longevity in any one job. Remember, the economy has been in turmoil the last few years. It’s not the person’s fault. Offer them a stable position, with a living wage, and fair treatment, and you’ll be shocked at how loyal your Administrative Assistant will be.
4) Consider giving tests — If you’re not sure of a candidate’s experience why not give them a test? There are plenty of tests you can purchase that test a candidate on their knowledge about office equipment, standard office procedures, and more. I’d be happy to take a test to show you that I can do what I say I can do. I realize my job history is sketchy due to being a stay at home mom and a business owner.
5) References are questionable — Some women who have taken a break in their careers might not have as many references as you’d like. But consider this, who is going to put down a reference that would give them a bad review anyway? Can you really trust anyone’s references? Try going outside the box and talking honestly to the candidate about their experience and why you question it. You might be surprised at the answers you get.
6) Don’t interview everyone — If you’re interviewing a college graduate for a position, and then decide not to hire them because they are a college graduate and because you think they’d be bored, um — why the hell did you waste their time in an interview anyway? Seriously, don’t waste my time. If you don’t like my resume, please, don’t call me. If you do call me based on my resume, or cover letter, now it’s time to hire me based off my interview, not off my resume or cover letter any longer.
7) Be honest — If you interview someone and you have a real reason that is not illegal, not to hire them — please tell them. It helps them if you tell the truth about why you don’t want to hire them. I don’t care what the reason is. You don’t believe them about their skill level, you didn’t click with them, they dressed poorly, whatever… Maybe you have a wrong impression, and maybe the candidate can get better at future interviews if given the honest, hard truth.
8) Don’t ask for the stars and the moon — If you’re hiring an administrative assistant for 10 dollars an hour, is it really fair to ask them to do everything under the sun including graphic design, letter writing, accounting, bookkeeping, receptionist duties, cooking, cleaning, etc…? No, it’s not! Create a fair job description of the primary responsibilities of the Administrative Assistant, and then if you need more than that, hire someone with those skills. Alternatively, and I say this again to make a point, consider actually paying someone for all the learned skills that you desire.
9) Teach me — You know, I have a masters degree, I am teachable. As long as it’s not brain surgery, I can learn. Plus, learning new skills on the job makes the job that much more exciting. As long as an employee feels useful and keeps learning you’re going to keep them longer.
10) Keep me — Finally, if you hire me, treat me well. I expect to work hard, and impress you. I expect to be trained in the expectations of my position. Throwing someone in a position with no training, no discussion of expectations, with work that changes on a daily basis with too many bosses, and no standard operating procedures, is asking for a lot of job turn over.
11) Don’t micromanage — Finally, once you’ve trained me, trust me to do my job. I have skills, I have education, and I might know a better way than you do to do my own job. Even if you don’t like my way, at least consider it. People like to feel valuable to their employers and listening to us helps a lot. Oh yea, don’t yell and throw your arms around, it’s abusive. I’m not your wife. I’m your employee.
And while this isn’t exactly a tip, if you can afford it, please pay people a living wage based on your location. Also, give them the benefits you’d want to have too. A yearly vacation, a few holidays off, yearly bonuses, retirement plan and some flexibility if possible. There is nothing better than having a long-term employee who loves their job.