SUMMARY: Search for the culture, industry, location, team & job scope that aligns with your inner happy place. When you have a strong foundation, you can build up your dream job.
Our culture stresses the importance of finding work that is fulfilling, that feeds your soul, yet then offers very little guidance on the next steps to achieve that state of vocational bliss. How many of us have felt completely lost (if not downright depressed) because we have no idea what we were “meant to do”?
A job is made up of so much more than the actual work itself. It is made up of colleagues and their varying communication styles, bosses with different management techniques, cultures driven by diverse values, teams built among a myriad of structures and industries guided by various goals. Even the size of the company, the geographical location and the physical layout of the office play into your love of a job. But I didn’t come to that understanding until my late 20’s. Even then, I didn’t stumble upon the concept of career curating (or how to sift through and align on these factors) until my mid-30’s . The definition of “Curate” in verb form is “to pull together, sift through, and select”, and funny enough, in the noun form, it means, “any ecclesiastic entrusted with the cure of souls.” When you curate for your career, you lay a clear path towards soul-fulfilling work.
I have created a list below that has assisted in my own curation of professional opportunities. What is fantastic about being an Administrative Professional is that you are never tied to one industry, so you have lots of flexibility to align your happiness criteria with where and with whom you would like to work.
If you are able to clarify, communicate and then secure opportunities around this list, you set the foundation for your (and the individual(s) you support) success.
DISCLAIMER: Just like when you are searching for a new home, this list is NOT an all or nothing scenario! You need to determine your own deal-breakers and then clarify your “flexible nice to haves”. There also may be life circumstances outside of our control which force certain criteria to the forefront. What is important is to continually refer back to your personal polarity comparators and remember when you felt the worst (a micromanaging boss who never trusted your work) versus when you felt your best (you became the confidant of the office, colleagues valued your kind ear and professional discretion.) and aspire to those at the top of your criteria check list.
This list will continually be refined dependent on the different phases of not only your career, but also in your life. Every new experience will allow you to curate towards contentment.
How important is a long vs. a short commute?
Are there responsibilities in your life that require remaining close to home (children, elderly parents, pets?) or do you have flexibility (or necessity) for a longer commute?
Do you prefer the energy of a city, a suburb or a rural setting?
Is it important for you get out to lunch every day or that the location offers some sort of nature respite? Will the surrounding area support that option?
Are there particular industries that your values/skill preferences would be more appropriately aligned with (i.e. Private vs. non-profit? Service vs. Goods?)
What is the type of work pace you thrive in (i.e. chaotic fast-paced hyper-growth vs. established slower well-oiled-machine, or somewhere in between)
Do you enjoy Business-to-Consumer or Business-to-Business structures (or a hybrid of both?)
Security/Stability of the Industry (Do you prefer, or can you accommodate, a long-term steady eddy or a potential short-life risky start-up?)
Size preference (Small, Medium or Large?)
Financing stage (Seed, Series A/B or C?)
Private vs. Public vs. In transition to IPO?
4) FUNCTION (Department)
What functions align with your personality type/value system (i.e. are you energized by consistent people interactions which could be found in an HR or Operations position or do you prefer more independent quiet space which could be found in Research or certain Information Technology departments?)
What are your professional interests and future career aspirations? (i.e. I learned quite early that I would never be a match for the Finance industry because it just doesn’t get me excited the way that a non-profit or a cutting edge biotech could, while I have friends who wouldn’t want to work anywhere else but the Financial sector.)
Inward facing role interacting with internal employee stakeholders vs. an outward facing role interacting with stakeholders such as clients, investors, or Board of Directors (or a hybrid of the two?)
5) ROLE (Tasks)
Do you find comfort in a role with very clear task parameters or are you a Jack-of-all-Trades that thrives with constant change?
One-on-one support or Team Support?
Do you prefer project support roles, project management roles or both?
High-tech or Low-tech?
Do you enjoy (or abhor) assisting your Executive with personal tasks?
If you are looking for a significant expansion of your current skill-set or a change in title, will this position offer that (both short term and long term?)
People strategy driven or Process strategy driven?
Top down culture or Bottom up culture?
Flat vs. Hierarchical?
Stable culture (clarified values and mission statement established) or transitioning culture (have not yet clarified or are in the process of creating?)
Is a strong purpose-driven mission based culture important to you
Operational integration & accountability of DEIB values?
Is a flexible environment important or necessary for you (i.e. telecommuting options for other responsibilities in your life at this time?)
Are you highly motivated by a strong reward and recognition (performance-based) culture?
Do you prefer high employee engagement cultures (i.e. lots of group activities & events) or more independent self-directed employee engagement?
Are you easily affected by the “energy” around you – is the employee population (especially your immediate colleagues) generally positive and happy?
7) EXECUTIVE PARTNER CHARACTERISTICS
Newbie Executive (Founder or Manager who has never had an admin) or Seasoned Executive?
Communication style preference
Management style preference
Level of self-sufficiency (or lack thereof)
Openness to working as partners versus a strictly directive relationship?
Executives beliefs around empowerment & professional development
Do you enjoy the challenge of working with quirky personalities? (I do!)
8) COMPENSATION/BENEFITS CRITERIA
Salary range (must establish a non-negotiable base-line)
Need for robust benefits (or does spouse provide which allows for more flexibility?)
Time off policy preferences
Is continuous learning/development/tuition reimbursement very important to you?