How to Become a Personal Assistant

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Being a personal assistant is a fast-paced job that can bring great rewards. But how do you become a personal assistant?

If you’re a good multitasker with an eye for detail, it could be the perfect career for you. No two personal assistant positions are the same, making it a varied and interesting career.

Are you calm under pressure? Are you an excellent problem solver and able to think and act fast? Are you super organized with excellent admin skills?

Then it sounds like you’d make a great personal assistant!

So, let’s take a closer look at what the job entails and how to break into this career…

The typical duties of a personal assistant

There are few jobs that are quite as varied as that of a personal assistant.

You’ll need to have a wide-ranging skillset in order to be successful as a PA, but as long as you’re dedicated and organized, you shouldn’t find any one task too complex.

The world of a PA tends to involve juggling many small tasks and fulfilling them with a high level of attention to detail.

The ultimate skill of a personal assistant is in ensuring their client’s needs are perfectly met, and their day goes smoothly.

While each position differs according to the person you’re working for, and their particular profession, it’s likely that you’ll be completing at least some of the following duties…

Dealing with correspondence

Whether it’s telephone calls or emails, your employer may prefer you to deal with all correspondence as the first point of contact.

It is then your job to filter out that which doesn’t require a response, extract any important information such as meeting times, and update calendars accordingly.

You’ll flag anything that needs dealing with and perhaps respond on behalf of your boss.

Managing schedules and calendars

You’ll be in charge of efficiently managing your employer’s schedule.

It will be your job to ensure they attend their meetings on time, and that there are no timetable clashes.

Booking travel and transport

If your boss travels for business, responsibility for booking transport and accommodation will likely fall to you.

Taking notes and dictation

Fast typing skills are a must.

You’re highly likely to need to take notes regularly and your boss may dictate emails or other documents for you to action.

Using office systems and equipment

You’ll also be required to complete general office administrative work.

You may be adding information to the company database, filing, using particular software and working with office equipment such as printers, scanners and such.

The skills you need to be a great personal assistant

When it comes to being a successful personal assistant, it’s perhaps more about the type of person you are, than any academic qualifications.

While qualifications will always put you in good stead, and offer proof of a certain level of skill, being a detail-oriented person who works well under pressure is a huge advantage in this field of work.

If you need to spruce your resume before applying for a position, take a look at the personal assistant certification offered here at the Personal Assistant Institute.

By understanding which skills are key to working as a personal assistant, you can identify your weak points and work on them, to make sure you’re up to the challenge of working in this demanding, yet exciting career.

Typing skills

Having good typing skills will always work in your favour.

Being fast to take down dictated text can reduce frustration, and typing fast, yet accurately is a good time saver.

If your typing skills are not great, it’s a skill that is easy to improve.

You’ll find several free courses online that will help you increase your typing speed, and there are tests you can take to see how you’re improving.

Good communication

As a personal assistant you’ll be dealing with a lot of people.

Having a pleasant telephone manner and a friendly demeanour goes a long way in this world.

Creating a good relationship with those you come into contact with, puts you in a good position for the future.

A good telephone manner can be practised, and be sure to thoroughly proofread any written correspondence to ensure it is accurate and professional.

Knowledge of commonly used software

Having a good working knowledge of the most commonly used office software will always be an advantage.

You’ll be able to dive straight into the job without needing to be trained in the basics.

A thorough knowledge of programs such as Microsoft Office, Google Docs, and email and file-sharing software is a must.

All this knowledge can easily be gained in advance by putting in a little time.

Highly organized multitasking

A personal assistant has a lot of work to do.

An average day is likely to consist of dozens of small tasks.  Each task will need prioritizing, and every job will have to be completed perfectly without error.

It’s likely that while you’re partway through a task, your employer will want to speak to you, the phone will ring, or an urgent email you’ve been waiting for will pop into your inbox.

Being organized enough to deal with all this is the ultimate skill of the best personal assistants.

Problem-solving

You’ll also need to be able to think on your feet.

When things are not going smoothly, it will be down to you to make everything okay.

When the printer doesn’t work five minutes before an important meeting, what is your solution?

When the taxi doesn’t arrive to take your employer to their appointment, what is your plan of action?

Imagining scenarios and coming up with solutions is a great way to test your problem-solving abilities.

How to become a personal assistant with no experience

As with many jobs, trying to secure a position as a personal assistant when you have no prior experience can be tough.

However, it certainly isn’t impossible.

Indeed, some employers may even prefer an inexperienced personal assistant, who can learn on the job and doesn’t already have preconceived ideas as to how the job should be done.

You can give yourself a further head start by ensuring your skills are up to date. Learn the latest software, improve your typing skills, and search for relevant courses you can take that will look good on your resume.

To get some experience, you could also try offering your services as a personal assistant to charities. It’s all good experience, even if you can only volunteer a small amount of time.

Additionally, volunteer work is always a plus point on your resume.

Being inexperienced does not mean that you cannot get into this industry, so keep applying, work on your skills, and your new career as a personal assistant could be just around the corner!

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