How to be a Good Personal Assistant

How to be a Good Personal Assistant Header

Do you work as a personal assistant? Or perhaps it’s a field you’d like to get into. Understanding what makes a good personal assistant is going to ensure that you’re great at the job.

If you’re just starting out in your career as a personal assistant, these tips could also give you an excellent head start.

There are many facets to the role of personal assistant, and so perfecting a wide range of skills will make you an invaluable employee.

Some skills may be obvious, such as being a speedy typist or knowing your way around Microsoft Office, but the work of a personal assistant goes way beyond this.

Let’s take a look at some of the skills that will make you an outstanding personal assistant…

Understanding your employer’s needs

You’re a personal assistant, and so you’ll have a close working relationship with one individual.

Your sole purpose is to make their lives easier.

In the course of your job, you’ll be undertaking tasks such as scheduling their meetings, dealing with their correspondence, and booking travel etc.

It makes sense that you will want to do all this efficiently and accurately, but what makes a great personal assistant is one who pays attention to the preferences of their boss.

When you learn something about them, make notes. It may be that they like two sugars in their coffee, it could be that they don’t like to attend a meeting first thing in the morning, or perhaps you’ll learn that they prefer to travel by train rather than by car whenever possible.

It is putting this knowledge to good use that will ensure you are highly valued.

Double check everything

From the spelling and grammar in an email to a hotel booking. Check everything you do.

Send an email to confirm a meeting time, check that the flight times have not changed since you made the booking, and read over correspondence before you send it.

We can all make mistakes, and errors can occur that are not your fault, but if you spot them early, you can put things right before they affect your employer and so the service you deliver will be smooth, seamless and trouble-free. 

Cameron Morrissey reveals in a recent LinkedIn post titled The Art of the Double Check some skills to improve your double-checking capabilities.

Keep your boss updated

It may seem obvious, but when you’re so busy organizing things for your employer and taking things off their hands, actually keeping them informed can sometimes be overlooked.

The key is to give your boss the information they need while not overloading them with trivial details that are not truly relevant.

This may involve updating a list of tasks and their current status, or a weekly or daily discussion to highlight upcoming meetings and events.

Be super organized

There are so many jobs you need to do when you’re a personal assistant, being well-organized and excellent at prioritizing work is a must.

You simply cannot forget anything, so you need to become the master of the list!

Keep a close eye on deadlines, and keep your calendar and to-do lists up to date.

Get ahead of yourself

If you stay one step ahead, you’ll appear to be incredibly efficient.

If there’s talk of your boss attending a conference in a particular town, then it’s worth looking into transportation options and the best hotels in the area.

You’ll stand out from the crowd if it’s a highly attended conference, yet you manage to secure a room in the closest hotel before it sells out.

Look ahead in the calendar to offer a reminder of an upcoming meeting that will need to be prepared for and get all the relevant paperwork gathered together, you might even be thanked for pointing out an upcoming personal engagement that may require a gift to be bought or a card sent. 

Keep your skills up to date

It’s also important to ensure your skills are still relevant.

This is particularly important when it comes to IT systems and software, as these areas can change at a fast pace.

When a new software version is released, or you get new office equipment, be the first to learn all about it, so you can keep being efficient and you won’t be hindered by change.

You could even expand your skillset with online courses such as the personal assistant certification offered here at the Personal Assistant Institute to complement your current abilities.

Forge great relationships

Being personable and friendly will put you in good stead for being a great personal assistant.

Your role will involve communicating with a wide range of people.

One minute you might be booking a hotel, the next arranging a meeting, before calling a plumber to fix a leaky tap in the office.

By developing good relationships with everyone you speak to, you’ll find everything runs more smoothly, and when you build a bond with other businesses and individuals, they’ll be more likely to help you out in an emergency situation or when you need a favor.

The ability to call in a favor once in a while can be the ace up the sleeve for a good personal assistant!

Pay attention to the details

What makes a truly outstanding personal assistant, can perhaps all be boiled down to paying attention to detail.

Ensuring every email is checked so nothing important is ever overlooked, while filtering out all the junk mail and low-priority messages.

Making your boss has all the paperwork they need for a meeting, informing a restaurant of your employer’s allergies or dietary requirements when you make a booking, or making sure you order the taxi ten minutes early so there’s time for a cigarette break before they catch their train.

If you do these things for them, without comment or judgment, you’ll be worth your weight in gold.  

Ask questions in order to improve

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure you’re delivering the best personal assistant service.

Of course you don’t want to bombard your boss with constant queries, but following up on your hotel booking by asking how their stay was, will leave you with the knowledge of whether or not to book that particular venue again.

Asking for their preferred format for a document is a question you’ll only have to ask once and could avoid a lot of future frustration.

Perhaps they like a printout so they can make notes on it, or maybe they prefer everything to be electronic.

Finding out, and remember, this knowledge is vital to becoming a truly excellent personal assistant.

Confused what personal assistant course to take?

We've created a personal assistant course quiz so find out what course is right for you...

Personal Assistant Courses

You May Also Like...

Ready to learn More?

Discover our Popular Personal Assistant Course