How to Get Your Boss to Develop Your Career

By Abigail Jones

Think of all the things you do to develop your boss’s career- perhaps you manage their social media presence, update their CV, get the meetings with the right people, help them deliver sales results or put together the presentation that wins the pitch. Even managing their personal life allows them to focus on their work life. Every day, your job supports and develops their role, and their career, in a variety of different ways, large or small. Now think of all the things that you do to develop your career- areyou doing anything? Perhaps you are networking after work, or undertaking professional development, or you have a mentor, or you have recently updated your CV and are actively looking for a new role whilst still in employment. Or, perhaps you haven’t done anything at all recently, and maybe you are struggling to find the time to do so. Wouldn’t it be nice if the person you work most closely with, your boss, could help to develop your career in the same way you support theirs?

Let’s start at the beginning. We all know that EA’s and PA’s wear lots of different hats- perhaps one of these is something you are interested in developing. For example, Chief of Staff, HR, project management, sales, travel, finance, or maybe transitioning into a private/household PA role. Maybe you’d like to be a CEO yourself one day! Is there one or more of these types of roles that you have an interest in, and if so, do you know anyone in, or outside of, the organisation you currently work in? You can arrange to have a quick coffee or chat to ask more about what they do, and what the job is really like. Ideally, you could ask to shadow someone for a day, or half a day, and even ask for a mentor in the form of someone who has your ideal role. Perhaps your boss knows someone from their wide range of networks who would be willing to speak to you. Networks and contacts are invaluable for these kinds of things-if your dream job is to be the PA to a celebrity, or a pharmaceuticals project manager, or a pilot- someone will know someone who will be able to give you more information on it. It’s not what you know, its who you know!

How often do you have a conversation with your boss about where they see you going, and how are they going to grow you and nurture your talent? I bet….rarely! How about having that conversation- ask them for a 30 mins or less to sit down and focus on where they see you going in your career. If they want you to stay with them, they are going to have to develop you in some way. Importantly, do they havethe skills and abilities to develop you? If not, where else can you find it from? External sources like PA training providers can be a good place to start, and be bold about asking for work to finance it.  You are just as worthy to access the staff training budget as anyone else, especially if you have been neglected for years

Learn from your boss. What kind of boss are they? What can they do really well? Are they a great motivator? Inspiring and challenging? Or do they have terrible people skills and low emotional intelligence? Learn from the flaws and weaknesses as it is a great lesson in ‘what not to do’. If there is something they do really well, ask them how they got to be proficient at it. What are the key things you would take away from working with them – have they motivated or changed you positively in any way?

There is no harm in asking your boss how they came to be in their current role- what were the challenges or the extra learnings they had to understand? What do they wish they could have done differently? What would they advise to someone who was hoping to develop and grow their current role?

Don’t wait until appraisal time roles around until you start to think about what you want to achieve in the next six months. The fact is, that no one cares about your career, except for you- so use your time, your experience, and your boss to start making changes in whichever direction you want. You spend all day prioritizing someone else at work and managing their life and career- take some time to do the same for you. Whether it is a total career change or just a subtle tweak of upskilling, use the knowledge around you to start making differences; every piece of new knowledge is a step in the right direction!

Abigail Jones is a career Executive Assistant, winner of the Miss Jones PA of the Year 2018, London PA of the Year 2017 and PA of the Year 2016, with almost two decades’ of experience. She was featured on the cover of PA Life Magazine and is a regular contributor to it and other PA blogs and articles, and has also been featured on panel shows, articles, summits and workshops with The European Executive Assistants Conference, The Assistant Room, Miss Jones PA Club, The Global PA Association, Practically Perfect, LCCI PA Club and SecsInTheCity. With three degrees in the Arts, she started her career working at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Museums, Christies and Sotheby’s auction houses and private art dealers. Abigail then moved into Healthcare, Charity, Law, Fashion/Luxury Retail (L’Oreal) and is currently the EA to the CEO of ghd. Abigail specialises in working at ‘C suite’ level, and is passionate about encouraging PA’s to get the most of out their careers, giving women an equal voice in the workplace, and developing skill sets to make the most of the role of Executive and Personal Assistant. She also provides coaching and mentoring to individual EAs and PAs and as well as corporate groups