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Get the right assistant to fit your needs. Finding a personal assistant to help you manage your busy family life shouldn't be a complicated process. If you need help from someone to ease your daily schedule, hiring a personal assistant might be just what you need.
Behind every manager or company director, you'll find an organised, efficient personal assistant. Discover what this varied and dynamic career has to offer.
As a personal assistant PA you'll work closely with senior managerial or directorial staff to provide administrative support, usually on a one-to-one basis. You'll help a manager to make the best use of their time by dealing with secretarial and administrative tasks. PAs need extensive knowledge of the organisation in which they work. You'll need to know who key personnel are, both external and internal, and understand the organisation's aims and objectives.
How it works
Managers often rely heavily on their PA, trusting that work will be handled efficiently in their absence. Discretion and confidentiality are therefore essential attributes of a successful PA. A personal assistant is sometimes called an executive secretary, as well as a personal or private secretary. As a PA, you're often a manager's first point of contact with people from both inside and outside the organisation.
Tasks will include:. In addition to supporting managers, their team and departments, many PAs also have their own personal workload and responsibilities. The scope of the PA's role can be extensive and additional duties may include:. Some PAs do all the secretarial work themselves, while others take responsibility for recruiting and training junior staff and delegate some of the less demanding and confidential work to them.
Personal assistant responsibilities include:
Salaries depend on the size and nature of the employing organisation, as well as on geographical location. Additional benefits may include a company pension scheme, season ticket loan, private health insurance, sports or gym membership and subsidised lunches. You'll generally work from 9am to 5pm, depending on the type of organisation. It may be necessary to work overtime during peak times and when deadlines are close. Although this area of work is open to all graduates and those with a HND, a degree in business or management may increase your chances.
Some subjects are more relevant for certain industries, e.
4 types of personal assistants (2 of which you need to avoid)
English literature for publishing and law for legal work. Entry without a degree, HND or foundation degree is possible as personal qualities, experience and general office skills are typically considered more important. GCSE English and mathematics or equivalent are standard entry requirements for many positions.
A qualification in IT may also be required. It's unusual to enter directly into a PA position as a recent graduate due to the level of experience expected of you.
However, it's not impossible and one way of increasing your chances would be to study for a relevant qualification, qualification, such a Level 2 Certificate in Business Support and a Level 3 Diploma in Business Administration. These courses are deed to equip students with the skills essential for this profession:.
In addition to relevant experience and secretarial and administrative knowledge, you'll need to show evidence of the following:. There are also a of specific skills, which may give you a competitive advantage. For example, shorthand and audio typing are still widely used. Teeline and Pitman courses teach industry-standard shorthand systems and typing speeds - for shorthand lessons see Teeline Online. Relevant vocational qualifications in business and administration are provided by the OCR Examinations Board.
On this profile
Knowledge of a foreign language may be useful in some positions. Most positions will require a minimum of two years' relevant experience, which will generally have been gained in a junior secretarial or administrative role. Working as a temp, either during or after your studies, can provide the opportunity to acquire office experience and develop higher-level secretarial skills. Many PAs will have worked their way up from office junior and general secretarial roles.
Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available. PAs work in a range of large, medium-sized and small organisations across all sectors. Positions can be found in:.
Private personal assistants: what they do and why you need one
Larger and more general agencies also handle PA vacancies and are a good way of finding temping opportunities. Look out for special events aimed at personal assistants, such as The PA Show - an annual exhibition and conference aimed at PAs, executive assistants and office managers. Training takes place mainly on the job. Experienced secretaries may supervise new entrants until they are competent in the work.
Larger companies may provide an induction course, lasting a few days, to introduce you to the various areas of the business. They may also provide short courses in areas such as:. In smaller companies, you will usually have to do training in your own time and on your own initiative, although employers may be willing to pay for relevant courses. It's possible to undertake part-time study while you're working.
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The following organisations offer relevant qualifications, which can normally be studied over one or two years:. The IAM is now the leading professional body for business leaders, administration managers and professional administrators. It reflects the career aims of its administrator members who increasingly want to move into management and now have more responsibility for managing people.
See the IAM website for information on membership, events, online training courses and details of endorsed qualifications, such as the Level 4 Diploma in Business and Administrative Management, available from relevant awarding bodies.
After gaining qualifications, skills and experience, PAs can a relevant professional body, such as the IAM, which can be useful for career development and can provide access to advice and continuing professional development CPD opportunities.
The IAM also offers student and affiliate membership for those in the early stages of their career.
See their website for more details on the different levels of membership available. You can apply for membership of the chartered or professional body of the sector within which you are working. For example:.
With experience, progression can be rapid. PAs can work their way up to more senior posts with responsibility for junior staff. Promotion can be to PA for a more senior manager or in a larger or more prestigious company. Moves are also possible within the industry by developing the role, contacts and knowledge to move on from administration to other departments.
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A PA can progress to an executive assistant EA. This role combines the business-related role of the PA with the additional responsibility of organising a manager's personal life. The salary is often higher than that of a PA but the hours may be longer and the role involves working very closely with a manager. PA work can provide a unique insight into how a business operates and how decisions are made at the highest levels.
This kind of experience can prove valuable for PAs who want to become managers themselves.
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The skills gained in PA work can be used in other sectors, such as human resources, marketing and public relations. It's possible to specialise in a specific sector, for example as a legal or medical PA. These jobs may attract higher salaries but may require additional qualifications.
Some experienced PAs decide to work as virtual assistants on a self-employed basis.
Virtual assistants work from home giving their time in blocks to a range of clients. Some PAs work as virtual assistants as part of a portfolio career, combining the role with other kinds of work, sometimes even developing a hobby into a business. This career flexibility can be appealing. Jobs and work experience Search graduate jobs Job profiles Work experience and internships Employer profiles What job would suit me?
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