Fly your flag!

As you know, the role of the PA or secretary has changed beyond all recognition over the past few years, with the work becoming more diverse, complex and responsible, and often involving traditionally managerial tasks. But in many companies the perception of the secretarial role hasn't changed with the times, and many people still look down on the 'lowly' secretary.

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You are often victims of your own success - becoming so good at the job that colleagues don't realise the level of effort and skill involved. This isn't fair, or good for promotion prospects!

So what can you do about it? "Become more vocal about your role," says Jo Tomazou, joint managing director of recruitment company Gordon Yates. "This isn't about blowing your own trumpet - it's about winning the recognition you deserve."

"It all starts with attitude. Start by talking about your role with confidence - never let anyone think you are 'just a secretary'", says Jo. "If you believe in your value, look the part, and radiate inner confidence, colleagues will begin to appreciate you for the professional you are."

Here are Jo's six top tips to raise your profile in a way that will benefit both you and your company.

Educate your boss
Does your boss appreciate how much you do? Probably not, so let him know. Don't make a long list of 'look how much I do for you'. Approach it from a business perspective, outlining what you do and suggesting areas for improvement. For example, if you work for more than one boss, suggest how you could prioritise their conflicting demands. Show initiative and deliver solutions.

Enlighten your colleagues
Most departments hold some form of regular meeting, so ask if you can speak for a few minutes. Use the time to explain your role and show how you can help. You could highlight a particular area, such as organising travel, and then suggest how it could be handled more effectively. Or if your company has an in-house magazine or intranet, why not write a 'day in the life' article on your job?

Become an expert
Identify a part of your work where you can become the 'expert'. It won't be difficult! Why not take an advanced course in PowerPoint and then share your new found knowledge with others in the office? Whatever you choose, focus on it, learn more than anyone else and find ways to demonstrate and share your knowledge.

Take on a new role
If feasible, expand your role. For example, some companies involve their secretaries in recruitment, recognising that they know more about the office, and which prospective candidates are likely to fit in, than anyone. It will also put you in close contact with other departments - and future job opportunities.

Demonstrate company knowledge
Gain an in-depth knowledge of your company, its objectives, financial standing and current issues, and when appropriate, make suggestions to your boss. For example, if your company is looking to cut costs, proactively suggest where reductions could be made in your area.

Join a secretarial association
This is a great way to raise your profile outside the company and hear about new ideas, which you can introduce into your own company. Check out associations including IQPS (Institute of Qualified Private Secretaries) and EUMA (European Management Assistants).

And here are some more of our own thoughts and ideas:

Sit on a committee or group at work
As a PA, you have insider information as to what works, what doesn't; and what your boss and others need, and what they don't. Are there any cross-organisation groups you can get involved with which will raise your profile?

Network widely within your company
Do you make an effort to get to know people in other parts of the company and to keep in touch with them? A simple offer to "let me know if I can help at all" as you work with people throughout the organisation can be a fast way to show you're someone who knows what's going on.

Portray the right image
If you want to join the ranks of management and go higher, then emulate how management dresses. And don't be taken in by dress-down days. Always have something smart on hand for that inevitable day when an important client drops in. Dress for the role you aspire to, not the one you're in.

Further information:
Check out these web sites and get networking to raise your profile!

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