What makes a good Personal Assistant?
Personal Assistants (PAs) undertake far more than administrative and support to managers. They are more often than not managers in their own right. They need to ensure that the organisation runs smoothly and that any problems are dealt with quickly and efficiently to cause minimum disruption to staff, with experience working up to board level. They also need to be an effective multitasker, remain calm under pressure, and take on any last minute problems that may arise.
The following skills would be useful to highlight in your CV:
- Customer service – part of your role may be to look after visitors when they first arrive at the office, meeting and greeting and offering refreshments. Remember to also state that you can build up a rapport with clients and can also lead part of the meeting if your boss is running late.
- Project management – managing specific projects can be time-consuming, which is why most of the intricacies of these projects are delegated to the PA to undertake. This could also involve managing a project team, working to budget and tight timescales, updating your boss regularly on progress. Therefore within your CV you need to build on your leadership and time management qualities within this remit.
- Event management – event planning takes time, effort and accuracy to get it just right. PAs need to show these skills along with how they can work and liaise effectively with third parties and build up extensive networks to bring everything together within necessary timescales. They need to carry out intensive research and sourcing before making decisions to ensure everything is accurate. Negotiation skills are also important to highlight here – when working to tight budgets it could be make or break between going over and staying within allocated costs.
- Foreign language qualifications – if you are fluent in a foreign language its always useful to mention this, as some work may involve you liaising with overseas clients.
- Leadership – acting as office manager, supervising and mentoring other staff, being responsible for the performance and development of teams.
- Diary management – liaising with internal and external contacts to coordinate meetings, finding out if your boss has to appear in person, and organising conference call details if meetings are virtual.
- Enquiry handling – screening phone calls, emails and enquiries.
- Shorthand – although shorthand isn’t as popular as it used to be, it’s still a good skill to have and you may have an advantage over your competitors for a job if you know how to do this. Shorthand is useful if you need to take minutes at a meeting, or take down a lot of information within a short period of time. It shows you can collect material quickly and accurately.
- Organisational and time management – as a PA you need to multitask, think on your feet and use your own initiative. You’ll need to effectively manage your own time as well as that of your boss, working to tight deadlines and delegating to junior members of staff when required.
- Independent working – You also need to show how you can use your own initiative and work autonomously.
- Budget management – you may be asked to contribute to some roles to take on some financial responsibilities, including managing budgets and accounts.
One big part of PA work is communications, and when you apply for personal assistant jobs one of the things you are judged on is your communication skills. These are very apparent on your CV. The best CVs are clear, concise and tell the employer things that he/she wants to hear in proactive and pertinent terms. It sounds easy, but there is more to it than meets the eye which is why many PAs usually end up applying with something that is either too basic or too complicated. Getting the balance right while selling your skills is easier said than done, but it’s something we assist PAs With on a regular basis; helping them stand out from the crowd.
We can help you too.