‘Creative Destruction’

This Times article tells us certain types of jobs just aren’t coming back, and uses the job of administrative assistant as an example:

After all, the office environment is more automated and digitized than ever. Bosses can handle their own calendars, travel arrangements and files through their own computers and ubiquitous BlackBerrys. In many offices, voice mail systems and doorbells — not receptionists — greet callers and visitors.

And so, even when orders pick up, many of the newly de-clerked and un-secretaried may not recall their laid-off assistants. At the very least, any assistants they do hire will probably be younger people with different skills.

Especially in small businesses, this just isn’t true. For one thing, entrepreneurs are often a specific personality type, and part of that personality frequently includes extreme disorganization. (Not to mention that many people, even the young ones, are absolutely uncomfortable with technology. I had a young boss once who refused to use an ATM card. His wife had to withdraw cash for him.

And then there’s the issue that people only have so much space on their mental hard drive. That’s why bosses like to delegate to their assistants: It makes their lives so much simpler. (Not to mention, it gives them someone else to blame when things go wrong.)

I doubt there’s some thoughtful strategic plan at work here. Businesses are worried about money, they’re cutting jobs where they can and they’re still reluctant to hire.

When the dust settles, somebody, somewhere will need a good administrative assistant.

3 thoughts on “‘Creative Destruction’

  1. Yep, totally agree with you. People may do away with adm assistants short-term, but not long-term.

  2. Personally, I think the “certain types of jobs just aren’t coming back” meme is a corporate con to convince the owned that their owners aren’t fucking them as bad. Certain types of jobs just aren’t coming back because our corporate owners don’t want to take a cut out of the immoral profits to pay someone a decent wage (whether in the US or in Pakistan). Congress should penalize, not subsidize, any firm that employs people overseas. Period.

  3. My heart goes out to her, not the least because she’s the same age and in the same profession as me. I agree with you and grrljock in that admin jobs will never really die, people WANT assistants. But we have learned to become more flexible; for the most part a lot of us do more PA (personal assistant) work than we used to, in addition to admin/secretarial, because that’s what the job calls for now. And it makes more economic sense for your “office mommy” to keep your personal schedule as well than to hire an EA and a PA. So, you adapt. You keep up with computer programs, etc. And you don’t say “no” when someone asks you to do personal stuff. Not any more.

    That said, I’m grateful every day that I lucked into my current job, and I continue to make myself as indispensable as possible.

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