No Opportunities for Career Advancement? Do These 5 Things

Apr 28, 2021 | Career Development

You worked for years to attain the top title in your job classification, and it felt great to finally achieve it. So when review time rolled around, you didn’t think much about it. After all, you’d only held the title for a year. But as you prepared for your annual performance review the following year, you realized that you may not have any opportunities for career advancement.


What do you do when you reach the highest job title for administrative support? Or when you max out your pay grade and there’s no additional raises in sight? What happens when you hit the proverbial glass ceiling and don’t have the tools to shatter it?

This isn’t an uncommon situation. Staying motivated when you’ve exhausted your opportunities for career advancement can be difficult. But there are several things you can do to address the situation professionally and respectfully.

  1. Do your homework. Try to get a feel for what others in similar companies are doing. (Your professional network can be a great resource!) Research the market rate in your area. It may help to compare your job description with your administrative procedures binder to highlight how you’re going above and beyond and adding value to your organization.
  2. Have a conversation with human resources. If you aren’t familiar with the levels and pay scales for your job position, the best place to start is HR. Learn about the options that may exist, and get the department’s input on how you can continue to learn and grow in your position. Then, take some time to think through the ideas they provide. If you’re not happy with your options, it may be helpful to talk to a trusted advisor or mentor, or engage with a career coach to help you prepare for your next step.
  3. Talk with your manager. If you’re already meeting with your manager on a consistent basis, use the meetings as an opportunity to discuss your career path. If you don’t have a weekly meeting, it’s time to set up one so your manager can stay connected to what you’re doing. Trying to have important career conversations once a year at review time isn’t fair to either one of you! You need to consistently develop the relationship, and share accomplishments and concerns as they occur.
  4. Ask “If not now, then when?” If more money or a title change isn’t feasible, ask when it will be, as well as what is possible right now. Are things like a flexible schedule, ability to telecommute, additional days off, other company perks, or an off-cycle promotion an option? Does your company offer gym memberships or tuition reimbursement? These are all forms of compensation that don’t necessarily involve a promotion.
  5. Decide if you can live with the decision. Once a decision is made about your role, only you can decide if you can live with it. If the answer is yes, keep adding value and learning new skills to stay relevant in your career. If the answer is no, start preparing for a job hunt.

The Innovative Admin ™ Charts Their Course

If you enjoy being an assistant, there are plenty of things you can do to expand your role within your company, even if your official title doesn’t change. Some of these options include:

  • Master skills you need now, but also engage in learning skills you’ll need in the future. The more marketable you are, the more prepared you’ll be to advocate for yourself.
  • Develop your business acumen. Know what’s going on in your office, company, and industry. You don’t have to know every little detail about everything, but make an effort to stay current on as much as possible.
  • Train and mentor others. This is also a fantastic way to stay visible and share your expertise.
  • Get certified in a marketable skill – such as Microsoft Office programs, event planning, office management, or project management. The certification can enhance your value to your executive and organization.

When it comes to the admin profession, the opportunities for career advancement are endless! Whether you choose to expand your skills in your current position, or seek out a place where you can better showcase your talents, there will always be extra rung to take you higher up the career ladder…you just have to be ready to climb.

This article first appeared in Executive Support Magazine, a global training publication and must read for any administrative professional. You can get a 30% discount when you subscribe through us. Visit the website at to find out more. Or to get your 30% discount, email and tell them we sent you.

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