Clerical Vs. Strategic

Image: Bob RosnerRecently I worked at a job with a wonderful woman. She had been a administrative assistant all of her career. So when I asked her to create a data base for our sales calls, she immediately turned it into a clerical function.

She created an Excel spreadsheet that had a lot of columns that was chock full of tons of details about every client and potential client. There was only one problem, it was like a file cabinet, it stored everything. It was unwieldy and almost defied you to explore our best prospects or do any real analysis of our sales opportunities.

I sat down with her and discussed my concerns about what she’d done. I struggled to find a word to describe the limitations. Finally it came to me, the data base wasn’t strategic. It needed a lot of work to become a tool that was nimble and flexible enough to guide our sales process.

This reminds me of a conversation that I had with a friend this weekend. She is bright, creative and very talented. But it appears that she is going through the motions when it comes to her career. It feels like she is filling a file cabinet with all the contacts and ideas for everything that she feels she should be doing with her career. But her entire search process seemed to lack a strategic element.

Most of us are raised to fill a box on an organizational chart. We have expertise and experience that allows us to do a heck of a lot more than fill a box on a chart. But that’s what we do, we gather data on the job possibilities that are out there for us.

But we need to be much more creative and directive in how we go about this process. Need I say, we need to be more clever in how we approach our job exploration.

Note I said job exploration, not job hunt. It’s really important that we sort out where we want to go before we start looking at jobs.

A job shouldn’t be just the way you pay your bills or pass the majority or the hours that you’re awake each day. I believe that a job should be your gift to the world. Really. It should be a unique contribution of your talents that only you can provide.

Sounds great. But it’s also difficult to dig deep enough within yourself to sort out why you are here. What your purpose is. But it is well worth the effort.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.