Mary Ellen Slayter

Question: “My company has asked me to put together an instructional packet as part of an anti-gossip measure. People across all departments pretty much agree it leads to a lot of negativity here, so I have to assemble policies and articles and even scripts into something downloadable. I’ll gladly do it, but I’ve accidentally started a debate within my team with my opinion that there’s nothing we can do about gossip—it’s natural and unstoppable and just has to run its course. I think this attempt to stifle it is a little silly. It’s like trying to control the weather! What do others think?” - Kim, IT traffic assistant

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Question: “Every year our boss wants our admin team to host some sort of game at our holiday party before it really gets going, and every year people suffer through it for 20 minutes when all they really want to do is eat and chat. You can sense their boredom; these are just not ‘activity’ folks. Can anyone help with a suggestion for something that might actually intrigue people?” - Susanne, Customer Care Representative

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Question: “I’m starting to read that in addition to having a good résumé when you’re looking for a job, it’s becoming important to have a solid ‘social media presence.’ I’m sure that by now hiring managers are taking a look at whatever they can find out about us online—but how do I build this ‘presence’ when I haven’t really had one before and need to start looking for a job in January?” - Eva, Transcription Editor

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Question: “For the last chapter of our company’s style guide, I was asked to compile tips on how to write emails that stay true to your personality. My boss wanted these in there because he said he was amazed at how rude, hostile, impatient or uneducated so many otherwise smart people seemed in emails without realizing they were coming off so poorly. I’d love to hear some fixes for those who accidentally become totally different when writing them.” – Nan, Admin Team Lead

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Question: “There is so much more I can do for my company, but I am never considered for meaningful projects and assignments. I’ve been with my current company as an executive assistant for six years and have over 25 years of experience working at the C-level. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do and I’m very good at it, but most of the work I’ve been asked to do lately is task-oriented and extremely basic, i.e. making labels, stuffing envelopes, conference room reservations, arranging food orders, etc. Please know that I don’t feel that those tasks are beneath me … I’m always willing to pitch in to help wherever needed. I’ve talked with my boss about my concerns and my eagerness to take on additional responsibilities and new assignments. Unfortunately, that conversation didn’t reveal any answers. I am having a great deal of difficulty understanding why I keep getting overlooked, and my feelings of resentment and frustration are getting harder to hide. Has anyone ever been in a similar situation?”  - Wasting Away

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Question: “I was laid off a month ago and now I spend a couple of hours a day job-searching, and the rest of the time just trying to fill in the day. There must be something productive I could be doing that will look cool on my résumé—but it can’t be too much of a time commitment that will interfere with being able to suddenly go off to an interview, or even start a new job on a moment’s notice. Any suggestions?” - Neil, Woodbury, Minn.

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Question: “My company recently hired an admin who doesn’t quite fit in with the personalities around here. She’s shy and some people think she’s a little odd, but she does her job well enough. I’m worried that after only a month, she seems cut off from the other admins and is being isolated through no real fault of her own. Does anyone have any ideas on how to ‘rescue’ someone like this and make sure she doesn’t become the employee people just don’t care about?” - Livvy, Brokerage Assistant

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Question: “I was an executive admin for nearly 30 years. After I was laid off, I thought it would be easy to find another job—after all, ‘I’m an admin and can do anything.’ I have interviewed almost consistently. I know that I used to interview well; I look good (very professional image), have a solid background, good skills, fun personality, easy to get along with, great ethic and word mindset, no kids … I can travel, work late, come in early, etc. But I never really learned to ‘market and brand’ myself. So why I am not getting the jobs?” - Sheryl, Executive Admin

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Question: “I’m tempted to spruce up a PowerPoint presentation by adding some video. Before I try to learn the actual steps of how to do it, I’d like to know what other admins’ experiences have been with trying this—is it going to be too much headache for too little payoff, or is it easier than I think?” - Michelle, Administrative Assistant III

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Question: “I’ve noticed recently that one of the managers here seems to be trying to use me as a window into my boss’s habits and decisions. He’s always politely prying for a little more information about what she’s thinking than I’m comfortable giving, but at the same time, he’s even higher up the ladder than my boss is, so I don’t want to offend him. What should I do about this?” - Caitlyn, Events Assistant

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