As hard as we try to be administrative superheroes, life frequently has a way of reminding us that we are still human. Sickness, illness, starting a family, or other personal situations can quickly throw us off our professional paths and leave us with a tough choice: work or life?
At some point in your career, for whatever reason, you may be faced with the decision of whether to take a leave of absence from your job. While departing from the workforce – even if it’s just for a yearor two – can seem like a scary and career-ending move, it doesn’t have to be. Taking a leave of absence doesn’t have to doom you professionally or even put you a disadvantage when you return to the working work, though…if you take these steps to maintain your presence in and knowledge of your profession. Here are some tips for making any admin’s second act a success:
- Stay in touch with your executive and colleagues. Social media makes this task extraordinarily easy. However, if you can, you may want to stop by the office every week or so to say “hello,” and check in. This will help maintain your presence in the office, remind people that you’re still part of the team, and preserve your working relationships while you’re away.
- Network. Again, social media sites, especially LinkedIn, make staying connected to colleagues and industry professionals simple. Interact with people you know online to stay current on what’s going on in your field. Also, try to establish some new connections to expand your network while you’re out. This is especially important if you’ll be looking for a new employer after your leave of absence.
- Create or update your professional portfolio. A professional portfolio is a valuable resource for any admin because it’s concrete evidence of your skills and experience. However, it’s absolutely crucial for jobseekers. If you don’t have a professional portfolio, dedicate some time to create one while you’re on leave. If you already have one, make sure it’s up to date and polished. This will help you dive right into the job hunt whenever you’re ready.
- Blog. Blogging is an excellent way to stay involved and in touch with your profession while you’re away from work. Weigh in on an industry topic, share your thoughts on a current event, or even talk about how you’re staying current while away from the office. Writing will keep you engaged in your profession and the posts can even be added to your professional portfolio as writing/work samples.
- Continue your professional education. Continuing education is important for all admins who want to stay relevant in their careers, but it’s vital to those who take leave. Taking a class, telecourse, or seminar while you’re on leave can enrich your current skills and help you develop new ones. Continuing education doesn’t mean you have to actually go into a class either. If you’re looking for training resources, the AdminPro Training Series and All Things Admin Training on Demand offer informative and compelling training on a variety of topics, and they can be done from the convenience of your home computer.
- Volunteer or freelance. If you’re able to, volunteering or freelancing while on leave is a perfect way to stay active in your profession. If you intend to go back to the same employer after your absence, ask your executive if there’s anything you can do to help out while you’re away. Otherwise, try to find some volunteer or freelance work in your field that will give you something to do while you’re not full-time. Make sure to add this experience to your professional portfolio – it will demonstrate your commitment to your career, even while you’re away.
Taking a leave of absence isn’t a professional death sentence. If you make an effort to stay active in your profession, it is possible to take the time you need, and get yourself back in the game after being away. In fact, the break may be just what you need to recharge and renew your passion for being an admin!
© 2015 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.