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Stuck in this job?

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Question: I am in a position where my workload is very low. Sometimes, I have nothing to do, except maybe a little photocopying or handling the mail.

Sometimes, I have to create work, if I can. But there is only so much work a person can create.

The classes that I took in the past (Excel, PowerPoint) go unused because I’m never asked to work in Excel or PowerPoint.

Because I have been in this department so long, I’m afraid to move on because my skills have gone down and I’m a bit afraid that I may not be able to handle the next job. Plus, some bosses don’t treat assistants well. I would hate to lose my job altogether.

I need some encouragement or advice as to what I should do while I’m here in this position. I’m at a loss. Thank you.  -- Anonymous


Have you talked to your supervisor about giving you more work? If you have, and there aren't any more assignments that he/she can give you, ask if it's ok to talk to some of the other managers about taking on additional work for one of them, without moving out of your current position.

Your decision to move on can only be made by you. You have good skills and it's shame you don't use them or get paid to utilize the training you have taken. IT could be you have been there so long, people have forgotten what you can do. Stick your nose out there and send an email offering your assistance during your slow times. Or, for grins, stop and register at an employement agency. They will test you and you can see where your skill levels are right now. you'd be surprised at what you remember. Make the changes in your job initiated by you, it does not seem anyone else will. As far as the bosses and how they treat people, there are two sides to all stories. Maybe with certain people, they need to be treated that way. You are your person with your personality, and when you interview, you will know if your personality will click and be a fit or not. CHANGE YOUR WORK LIFE FOR THE BETTER. GO GIRL...

Are there other admins whose workload is heavier? Ask them if there is a project you could take off their hands. You could say "I am pretty good at powerpoint, I could start that presentation for you" or or something similar. It's possible that because you haven't had the chance to use your software skills, your employers and co-workers don't know all the ways you could help them. Don't wait for someone to ask you - make the first move - go around the office and keep asking to help others. Before you know it, you'll have more than enough work. Good luck!

All the comments so far have had excellent advice, but I'd like to add one thing. In your slow time, you could also take classes online to brush up on your skills and read business books. Also, do you read any publications in your industry? You could use the time to keep up on what's happening, which could lead you to some ideas on new ways you could help out.

You have a lot of education in this organization, but you seem to be afraid to take a risk to move on. You are actually very brave to take the risk. What is the worst thing that can happen if you move on? You won't like the new job -- that can't be any worse than your current position.

Yes, you may be a little rusty, but all that you know will come back to you.

Start making your face known in other departments. See what they are doing, and start the process on a more personal level. A good employee is not to be lost, so the organization will do well to keep you and let you go to another department.

You can do this!!

Are you interested in database / web design? You can take online courses and it seems very rare to me that a company has a smooth flowing all encompassing database system; better yet, website.

Good luck in whatever you choose.

I am in the same situation. Actually mine might be worst. I do absolutely nothing all day everyday. I'm so bored, I can't stand it. I told my boss about this and all he said to me was, you do what I need when I need it. Needless to say I've been looking for another job. I've been cautioned about asking around for additional work because I've seen this backfire. My sister did this and she basically ended up doing the most demeaning tasks in her office. To keep your skills up buy a software book. I got one from a local community college for students who are learning the software. You get an opportunity to create things from scratch which keeps your skills up to date. Also, attend webcasts and like someone else mentioned read periodicals about your profession. Another good thing to do is join your local chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionasl ( involved. My chapter was desperate for people to get involved. I even talked to my manager about it and he agreed to let me do it at work. This will help you keep your skills up and if you do decide to leave, you'll have met several other admins who maybe able to help you get a job elsewhere. The key is to keep your mind sharp. I've taught myself so much and I'm even going to school. My boss is ok with me doing assignments at my desk. Until I find another position, I'm filling my time with things that will help me be more marketable.

Lots of good advice in comments already posted. I like the ones about database & web deisgn. Another possibility: keep on updating your software skills and offer to train the other admins in latest software & help them solve their software problems. For those who don't use Excel or Powerpoint everyday, their skills get rusty just at the time they need them most. I bet if you became the office "help desk" you would have much more work to do & you could make yourself more valuable to your company (perhaps even a new job title, promotion, more salary). You go, girl.

Sometimes there is no way out but out the door. My last long term job started winding down due to technological obsolescence and I was let go (on good terms). The temp job I went into I discovered they hired me only because they had been made to fill the position by upper management. I had almost nothing to do. Finally I was mercifully let go. It took a while but in God's good timing I found a job that has proved fulfilling, demanding, exhausting, and wonderful working as a church administrative assistant (and one of the few men to do this as well!). Getting out can be overwhelming -- get the money set aside for some down time from work if possible and get looking! You may have to settle for a commute, you may have to try a couple times, but the right fit is out there.

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