Few office jobs offer such a varied or fast-paced day-to-day environment as a PA. As a result, though, positions are hotly competed for. To help you get ahead of the pack, here are four tips on how to become a personal assistant...
Make Sure It’s Right for You
Becoming a personal assistant is not for everyone. Whether you’re working for a high-powered executive or an A-list celebrity, the job description is a pretty open-ended one, and duties can range from day-to-day office tasks to arranging meetings, and remembering partners’ birthdays and anniversaries - and everything in between. Superb memory, organisation skills, and an ability to multi-task and thrive under pressure are absolutely essential. Because, ultimately, if anything goes wrong the buck stops with you.
Take a Course
You don’t walk into a top PA job without some decent training behind you. Being possessions of skills like speedily (and accurately) typing a letter up and being the master of a spreadsheet are givens, but you’ll also almost certainly need to help with presentations, so a full suite of Microsoft Office skills is required. These days, though, you’re as likely to need to run your boss’s social media activity as fire off a memo, so having a full understanding of communicating via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are likely to be necessary, while soft skills like body language, posture and good listening and telephone skills are also vital.
Buff Up Your CV
Like any other desirable profession, the best PA jobs are highly competitive. Without a good cover letter and CV you won’t even get a foot in the door. A very quick checklist for your CV might go something like this: a) does it clearly match what the employer is looking for? b) Is it an accurate (and honest) description of my academic/career achievements? c) Is it obvious how to contact me (and ask me in for interview)? d) Is it short and to the point (communicating the key messages as succinctly as possible)?
As always, carefully checking – and then checking again – for spelling and grammatical errors is key. Then, getting a trusted friend or colleague to cast an eye over it before you send it out in response to a job opening is also critical. Keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and relevant for anyone looking for a PA is never exactly a bad idea.
Find a Good Personal Assistant Agency
Whether in London or LA, Manchester or Milan, top personal assistant jobs (i.e. the ones with the big salaries) rarely fall into your lap. But vacancies do come up – and when they do it’s important to make sure you’re signed up to an agency who’s regularly dealing with them. In terms of UK-wide positions, job sites like Reed and Secs in the City are a couple of good places to start.
Finally, it’s important to stick at it. Some sort of experience is key – as the high-powered individual employing you will want to know that they can really trust you in any and every situation – so a bit of working up the administrative support ladder may well be required.
Like the idea of becoming a PA? See if our online personal assistant course is for you.
Or for more careers-related advice, check out our tips on how to become a social worker.