From Front Desk to Corner Office: Administrative Job Growth

Business people working on documents in an office

You’ve got to start somewhere.

For millions of Americans currently working as administrative assistants, the future could be very bright. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly pay for administrative services managers, those at the top of the ladder in the administrative world, was over $90,000 in 2016.

While an upper management position might seem like a big leap if you’re currently performing the clerical duties of an administrative assistant, you have a couple things going for you:

  1. Your foot is already in the door.
  2. You’re already benefitting from work experience that’s vital to advancement.

But how do you make the most of your current administrative assistant position and use it as a launchpad for your career?

We spoke to a group of Aerotek recruiters to get their advice on how to get ahead in an administrative role.

Do the little things right

Before you move ahead, make sure you’re on steady ground. How? Demonstrate caring and competence in everything you do, no matter how small.

Account Recruiting Manager Daniel Mudrow says, “Make sure you’re not sacrificing your ability to excel at your day-to-day responsibilities.” Senior Professional Recruiter Matt Wiehe says, “Someone new in a role has to learn to walk before they run, and pushing too hard for more when they have not yet mastered the basics can backfire. Once you have a good grasp of the basics, then you can add more layers of skills and responsibilities.”

While performing routine tasks, even something as simple as preparing materials for attendees of a meeting, ask yourself if you’re going about your job in the best possible way. Notice what works: Is preparing each meeting packet one at a time more efficient, or is it better to do all of the packets in stages? The more proactive you are with learning basic tasks, the better you’ll be at improving the bigger stuff.

Or as Senior Account Recruiting Manager Nathalie Vangsoua puts it, “Do the right thing all the time, even when no one is noticing. Be your own biggest critic and motivator.”


The most common word Aerotek’s experts used was “ask.”

Nathalie Vangsoua says, “Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and feedback.” Daniel Mudrow recommends asking someone to be your mentor in your company.

“Ask for more to do!” says Matt Wiehe. And Aerotek Divisional Practice Lead Hailey Taylor observes, “Often, an employee may need direction on what they can do to be seen as the ‘up and coming’ option for a promotion, they just haven't asked.”

Once you’ve gotten good at the basics, let your company’s leadership know you’re ready to grow. Don’t expect them to read your mind.

What does that conversation look like? Taylor says, “Ask your manager about the growth available at the company and what steps you’d need to take to get there. I often recommend setting both short term (three to six months) and long term (one to two years) goals, so that a plan is in place and both you and your manager can refer back to those goals to discuss your progress during reviews.”

Go for it!

Asking for growth opportunities sends a strong message to management about your ambition and motivation. But once you’ve built a reputation for handling basic responsibilities, asked for more and set goals to get there, what next?

Nathalie Vangsoua recommends being more active: “Come prepared and engaged. Show that you’ve taken your own time to understand your company’s initiatives, and share your own ideas with your manager. Know as much as you can: read books on management or articles about your company’s industry, and ask plenty of questions to make sure you understand the issues.”

Hailey Taylor suggests developing stronger professional relationships with your coworkers. “Find a mentor that can help you, and find a mentee you can help as well,” she says. “Any opportunity you have to help others in your department shows that you truly care. That’s what being management-candidate material is all about.”

Still not sure you’re poised for growth? Matt Wiehe says, “Continuing education is always good. Earning a bachelor’s or masters will never hurt someone’s chances, and obtaining PMP certification is becoming almost the norm in some industries.”

Get help

Unfortunately, not every company takes the career growth of its employees seriously. If you’ve done everything you can to position yourself for a step up in responsibility and haven’t seen a change, it might be time to weigh your options. You can always talk with an Aerotek recruiter, like Daniel Mudrow, Matt Wiehe, Nathalie Vangsoua or Hailey Taylor to find out more about what you can do to get ahead.

And if you’re looking for a job, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. You can create a free career account today to customize your search.