“An office can work without but the boss, but not without the secretary.”~Jane Fonda
In this day and age women in the administrative profession cringe at the thought of being referred to as a “secretary.” The politically correct term is and has been for quite some time “administrative professional”, but despite the title the responsibilities remain the same. As I was sitting in the airport this morning waiting to board my 6th flight in less than two months I came to the startling realization that as an Executive Administrative Professional I am the one that makes the machine run. But it was also in that same moment [as I was snapping selfies] that I realized I don’t look like my earlier counterparts.[You know kind of like Jane Fonda in the movie Nine to Five] Nothing about me reads “secretary” not my hair, my style of dress [which actually has more of a “I run this show” kind of vibe] and definitely not my fifteen [give or take one or two] tattoos.
I have been in Corporate America for over ten years, beginning with my time in the United States Army [even in the Army visible tattoos were frowned upon], all of which have been as an Administrative professional. When I initially entered the workforce tattoos were taboo especially on women. The stigma that tattoos are only for bikers, sailors and felons has become a thing of the past and more and more regular everyday people are drowning in ink. Like anyone who has a tattoo I remember my Granny telling me I would never get a job now that I marked up my body.
In a 2013 article published by Forbes, consulting firm CEO John Challenger explained, most employers today would agree that a person’s appearance is nowhere near as important as his or her professional skills. “Even in this tight job market, most companies aren’t going to view tattoos too harshly. Companies have a vested interest in hiring the most qualified candidate.” It wasn’t long ago that you had to cover your tattoos when going to a job interview because your choice of ink could possibly keep you from landing a high paying job. Employers no longer judge a candidate on their appearance so much as they do their skills and professionalism. When I interviewed for my current position I made sure all of my tattoos were covered including the two on my wrist. It wasn’t until I received a copy of our corporate dress policy that I realized how outdated and antiquated the ideals were. Unlike other companies in 2015, visible tattoos are not acceptable and are supposed to be covered in the office. Do my tattoos impede my ability to do my job? Am I taken less serious because I have a peach bow on my wrist and angel wings on my calf? Or are the orders I give less effective because of the stars on my foot that peak from the top of my shoe?
As the face of “secretaries” continues to change this is my journey as the unconventional tattooed admin, I will share stories that other administrative assistants can relate to and encourage them to do the same. Each day in the office is something new and different, just like me. My journey to be my company’s first Nursing Home Administrator with a full tattoo sleeve has only just begun.