From the outside, personal assistants may seem like a secondary role, but they are often highly valued professionals in the workplace. What does this job really entail? Are you looking at different positions and wondering how to hone your skills to stand out?
Personal assistant jobs can be rewarding and reasonably well-paid, especially if you are an assistant to C-suite executives or an executive assistant. You will often be undertaking administrative tasks, proactively managing executive calendars, taking telephone calls, and organizing the filing system.
In this article, you'll learn more about personal assistant jobs, so you know whether this is a career you would enjoy.
A Complete Guide To Personal Assistant Jobs
What Exactly Does a Personal Assistant Do?
A personal assistant has a range of essential duties. In general, personal assistants support their company executives and provide clerical assistance. In addition, they may be responsible for typing emails and other correspondence, organizing requests, shifting priorities, answering phones, and doing independent research when necessary.
An executive assistant also often screens incoming calls, reads emails, handles travel arrangements, meets visitors, sets up meetings, distributes mail, and deals with clients. They may support other staff members and cover expense reports and ad hoc projects.
What Are The Top Skills for a Personal Assistant Position?
You need many skills to be an outstanding personal assistant, including basic computer skills like word processing. Here are the top abilities an executive secretary should possess:
- Great communication skills
- Excellent organizational skills
- Great attention to detail
- Time management
- Research skills
Let's look at how each of these helps with the responsibilities of a personal assistant.
Ability To Communicate
Communication skills are critical because you often deal with many people throughout the office. The administrative work executive assistants perform will frequently require you to be able to talk to people from every team.
You'll also be handling phone calls and scheduling meetings, so you must communicate politely and in a friendly, warm manner to keep everything running smoothly. Therefore, your interpersonal skills need to be excellent if you want to be a great personal assistant.
Organizational skills are critically important for most personal assistants since you often handle many tasks simultaneously. These tasks include dealing with constantly changing calendars, so they need to be able to keep track of important dates when scheduling appointments and meetings.
Additionally, personal assistants maintain filing systems, which can significantly impact how smoothly the office runs.
Finally, you may need to attend meetings with the chief operating officer or other executives you support, take notes, and then create a full report for the rest of the office. Again, organizing your notes logically for the rest of the company can be critical.
Attention to Detail
Strong executive support means attention to detail. It's often your job to prevent things from slipping through the cracks and ensure that tasks get done on time and correctly. So you need to be the person who thinks about the minor, functional aspects of everything.
For example, if you're planning a lunch meeting, you'll often be the one who needs to think about organizing lunch.
Suppose your chief operating officer is going on a trip. In that case, you'll probably be responsible for booking flights, accommodation, transport, etc., and adding it to the individual's calendar to ensure they know what they're doing and when.
If you're handling calendar scheduling, you need to make sure there are no conflicts and remember to keep any shared calendars up to date, even if you don't directly support those individuals. In some circumstances, you may also need to send out information to clients about meetings.
If you hold this position, you must consider all the details of your tasks, ensuring the day-to-day runs smoothly for the executives you support.
Time Management Skills
An executive assistant also often needs to be able to manage their schedule rather than having somebody else set it for them. Again, however, this can depend on the office and the position.
You will be responsible for figuring out what to work on and when so that your work gets done effectively.
You may need to research various things. For example, you may need to look into an expense report or find the ideal location for an off-site meeting. The more you can conduct independent research quickly and effectively, the better.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Be a Personal Assistant?
In most cases, you'll need to prove you have received primary schooling to become a personal assistant. You may need a GED or a high school diploma.
You may also want more certification. For example, you might need a bachelor's degree in business management or business administration if you support high-level executives.
If you're considering getting certification, you should work towards the IAP Personal Assistant Certification, a six-week course covering all the basics. It will teach you how to manage your workload, handle business events, and cover other aspects of business administration. While certification is not a requirement to get a personal assistant job, it could help you stand out among other applications.
Each personal assistant job will have different requirements, so it's essential to check out listings in your local area to find ones that suit you and your qualifications.
In most cases, a personal assistant will also need experience supporting other staff members to qualify for the job. You want to show relevant experience when looking for a personal assistant job. If you don’t have this experience, look to take on some support tasks within your current company or for different ways to demonstrate you can undertake the job's responsibilities.
Not all job types will require you to demonstrate experience. Still, many do, so prepare ahead of time so you can talk about how you have undertaken similar responsibilities in the past.
You will also want to demonstrate that you are a self-starter and can handle confidential information correctly, as you may sometimes be privy to sensitive documents for celebrities or high-paid athletes.
What's The Highest Paid Personal Assistant Salary?
Rates can vary, and where you live will significantly affect how much you can expect to earn. For example, living in Washington, D.C., you could make more than working in a small town.
The average salary for this position is $20 per hour, but it could be as high as $38. For entry-level work, the pay is closer to $10 per hour. Most administrative support roles are hourly as opposed to salary.
What Should You Look at When Reviewing Personal Assistant Jobs
There's always a lot to consider when taking on a new job, including salary, key tasks, and other elements. Is the company looking for anything specific that you can offer?
For example, are they advertising for a confidential assistant for the staff director? Do they want to see previous management experience, demonstrating you can stay on top of constant administrative changes?
Will you be supporting clients, dealing with the chief operating officer, coordinating between departments, or something else?
It would be best if you also considered the complete job package. For example, a position that offers a slightly smaller salary but more vacation time could be a better fit for you if you enjoy traveling.
Some executive assistant jobs call for an intermittent employee, meaning you'll be working irregular hours – something which suits some individuals better than others. Be sure to know if the job you are considering lists the employee type, like full-time, part-time, seasonal, or temporary.
Remember to consider the kind of office you would be working in and whether the position is remote. These jobs often require you to be present in person, but more and more employers offer remote work. While it might not be 100% remote, it may provide a hybrid schedule.
Finally, when interviewing for a potential position, ask many questions and get to know the person you will assist. Since you will work closely with this person, you must get along. If they have character traits that don't align with yours, it is most likely not a good fit, even if all the other aspects of the job are ideal.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Find a Personal Assistant Job?
It would help to start by searching online, where you will find most job postings. Then, ask around and use your network to see if anybody knows of a company currently hiring for this position.
Additionally, when talking to your network, make sure you also ask about jobs outside of an office setting. For example, many people need an assistant to help them with odd jobs around the house, including grocery shopping, running errands, and more.
Does a Personal Assistant Get Their Own Office?
Getting your own office depends heavily on the company that you work for. For example, if you deal with confidential information or talk to clients often, you may have your own office or work near your boss's office. If this is important, raise it with the company when interviewing or accepting an offer.
Is Being an Executive Assistant Enjoyable?
Many people enjoy performing this role, but it is only for some. Therefore, you should weigh how your skill set matches the job, plus any experience you have had in this kind of role, and assess whether you will enjoy it and not worry about what others think.
Personal assistant jobs can be fascinating and offer many opportunities to gain meaningful experience, regardless of background. Depending on your interests and skill set, you can take many job paths as a personal assistant. Whether your dream is to help run the most prominent celebrity events or support a team in a corporate environment, this kind of career could be for you.
You can climb the ladder quickly with hard work, creativity, and resilience. So if you feel ready to take on the challenges that come with the rewarding profession of personal assistance, why not give it a shot? After all, life is an adventure – so make sure you live it to its fullest!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Jon is the founder of MoneySmartGuides, which helps people dig out of debt and start building wealth to achieve their dreams. He has over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry and 20 years of investing in the stock market. He has both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Finance, is FINRA Series 65 licensed, and has a Certificate in Financial Planning.