Upping your game and upgrading your skills are only part of what it takes to get ahead in your career as a modern Assistant.

You need people to notice. It’s important that clients and bosses see your true value and worth. For many Assistants the challenge is not about being amazing or highly skilful, it’s about being visible.

It can also be very easy for the busy Assistant to get their head down and find the weeks, months and years pass by in a flash. The savvy Assistant makes time for the future and keeps a firm eye on potential opportunities.

Let’s talk a bit about that today.

Being More Visible as a Savvy Assistant

You see this in business and industries all the time. Some people make a success of it with apparent ease and others struggle. And it’s not always down to how good people are at what they do. Some people are just better at being seen and heard than others.

Any VA with ambitions to build a solid business cannot afford to simply sit behind their keyboard every day and remain invisible. Any PA or EA seeking that next step up in their career cannot just sit and wait for somebody to give them a promotion or new opportunity.

To be more visible requires today’s Assistant to be aware of the key trends, and to be pro-active in promoting themselves and their value – to their clients, their bosses, their prospects and organisations they serve.

Creating Your Personal Brand

This might be regarded as most relevant for the savvy VA but – with the rise of the Indispensable Assistant – it is also something for the ambitious PA or EA to consider seriously.

As an Assistant, you are your brand. Beyond your website or social media presence, this is about how you are perceived by clients and bosses. People have a view about who you are, how good you are, how you communicate and what you are like to work with. Create a great first impression and don’t turn back.

Having a personal brand is about being intentional about getting noticed. Reputation could be seen as being about credibility but personal brand is about visibility and highlighting your values.

Ask yourself some deep, searching questions.

What drives you? What are your best talents or skills? What skills would you love to learn?

What kind of projects or tasks get you fired up and ready to go? What subjects fascinate you? How do you want to contribute to the world?

Developing Your Personal Brand

Look around your Assistant field, the industry or industries you serve, and the people you work with.

Which people have the success, qualities, strengths, values and traits you admire? Pick your favourites and adopt them as a role model to help you envision your own personal brand.

The same people might be on your list of stakeholders and influencers within the organisation – people who could help you progress in your career. Once you have a list, it’s time to begin reaching out to those people on it. It might feel scary or awkward but never be afraid to ask for help.

This is all about raising your visibility. This is all part of investing in your personal growth and professional development.

Positioning Yourself in the Market or Within the Organisation

Positioning is a way of making yourself visible and known as an Assistant ideally suited to a particular role or function. It can even lead to having a brand label, such as ‘The Queen of Microsoft Office Training’ or ‘The Email Wizard’ or ‘The PowerPoint Genius’.

As a VA, you get known as the ‘go to’ person for a particular niche or type of work. That helps people to hear about you and to find you.

As an EA or PA, you can also gain a good reputation for what you do. Demonstrate your speed and efficiency. Champion yourself as a communications and collaboration master. Be an ideas person. Be a brilliant problem-solver.  Share your learning and development for the benefit of the organisation. It’s a good way to become more visible.

Educating Your Client or Boss about Your Assistant Superpowers

Being an Assistant is not a mere job. It is a career path for people.

So, to get ahead in your career, there’s a bit of self-advocacy to do. Don’t downplay your achievements. Don’t let imposter syndrome rear its ugly head and halt you in your tracks. Don’t allow self-doubt to creep in to your thinking.

Trust yourself. Be confident. Be assertive. This may require a change or shift in mindset. Do the work. As Lucy Brazier of Executive Support magazine says in her blog, recognise the power of your voice.

Get to know your client or boss. Get to understand how they think and like to operate. Get to see where their pain and pressure points are. Then you can demonstrate your extra value to them.

Your first job is to assess and develop your skills. Your second job is to train and educate your client or boss about you – and what you are capable of as a professional Assistant. Tell them.

Let them know they can leverage your expertise in research, project management or strategic planning, for example. Let them know they can delegate more tasks to you, leaving them to focus on their higher value, big picture, tasks. Let them know if you have a better way of doing things that makes life easier for them.

In short, let them know, “I’ve got this”.

Embracing Mentoring and Coaching for Assistants

If you know there is some mindset or inner growth work to be done, it may be time to consider having a mentor or coach. Someone who can help you to develop resilience, raise your energy levels, draw out your motivation and guide you towards your goals.

Coaches can work with you 1:1, session by session as required or as part of a programme. An ideal mentor would be either someone in the Assistant field (an experienced VA, PA or EA) or a business mentor, who can help you to build your strategic and leadership credentials.

Embracing Opportunities as a Savvy Assistant

As a freelance or self-employed VA, you need to be business-like in how you operate. If you’re starting out you need clients. If you already have clients you will want more clients.

Have your preferred combination of website, LinkedIn profile and Facebook business page in place and up to date. Have a plan for creating and scheduling relevant content across the social media channels you use. Join and take part in relevant online groups and communities.

Take up opportunities to meet and chat with potential business clients at networking and other business events. Explore the benefits of being a member of organisations such as the Society of Virtual Assistants, the Association of Professional Virtual Assistants or The VA Membership, for example. There are quite a few other memberships out there. Do your homework and see what suits you best.

As well as embracing learning and training opportunities , the career-minded PA or EA will also want to keep an eye on the jobs market. Search online job sites for the latest vacancies and trends. Keep your CV up to date.

There are so many sources for current vacancies out there to choose from, including: LinkedIn, Reed, Indeed, Hays, Bark and specialist site SecsintheCity.

Knowing the marketplace gives you a good idea of how you’re placed and provides evidence to support any request for a raise or promotion.

Find the Power of Your Voice as a Professional Assistant

Assistants around the globe know how much value they bring to the table. It’s time for more of them to stand up and speak up for themselves.

Embrace your personal brand. Embrace learning and training. Embrace opportunities that are out there for you.

Demonstrate your worth. Charge your value. Be your strongest advocate.

After all. If not now, when?

Shelley Fishel - The MS Office Maestro

I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney