What Does a Personal Assistant do?


A personal assistant is a role that covers a wide range of tasks, but what exactly does a personal assistant do?

If you’re considering a career as a personal assistant, you’ll require a wide-ranging skillset.

What makes a personal assistant unique, is that the work is focused on helping one individual, usually someone prominent in the business.

It is the personal assistants role to take the strain off this person, ensure their day runs smoothly, and take over a wealth of small tasks, so they can focus on their main role.

Having your own personal assistant is incredibly useful when you lead a busy life, and while you may find most personal assistant positions involve working for executives of large companies, equally there are also opportunities to be a personal assistant for an individual, dealing with their general life admin.

Well, who wouldn’t love their own personal assistants to take care of the time-consuming tasks in their lives?

But sadly, it’s generally only the more wealthy who can afford this luxury.

Let’s take a closer look at what a personal assistant does…

The unique role of the personal assistant

Being a personal assistant will differ greatly from job to job. This has its pros and cons.

When you move from one position to another, there are many skills you can take with you, but there will also be more you need to learn, to adapt to the requirements of a different client.

You never quite know what to expect when you start working as a personal assistant, but a good personal assistant will soon become in tune with their boss and learn to fulfil all their needs.

The key to being an amazing personal assistant is to become invaluable to them.

The tasks a personal assistant may be in charge of

As we’ve already mentioned, each job is different, and so what you’ll do each day entirely depends on the career and lifestyle of the person you’re working for.

However, we can point out some duties that are more likely to form part of your workload.

Fielding messages

You could be the first point of contact between the outside world and your boss.

You’ll take messages, prioritise anything that needs attention, and you may respond on behalf of your employer.

You can save them time by fielding the junk calls and emails and highlighting anything important.

Booking appointments and managing the calendar

It’s highly likely that you will be in charge of managing your employer’s diary.

You’ll need to schedule meetings and appointments and ensure nothing clashes.

You’ll need to pay attention to detail, for example, making sure there is sufficient travel time for meetings, and that time is given for lunch breaks etc.

There’s also a good chance that your client’s personal life will cross over into your work, as you’re scheduling a business meeting around a dentist appointment or their child’s school performance.

It’s not unlikely that you’ll also be tasked with booking personal appointments and reminding your boss of their personal commitments too.

Keeping your boss informed of upcoming events

You’ll need to keep your boss abreast of their upcoming engagements.

The best personal assistants will give just the right amount of notice to ensure the days run smoothly.

You’ll be worth your weight in gold if you are efficient, presenting your employer with the notes they need for the upcoming meeting as well as a gentle reminder that their wedding anniversary is approaching.

Going the extra mile goes a long way towards becoming an invaluable personal assistant.

Organising events and travel

It may be your duty or arrange meetings or even large conferences.

It’s likely it will also be your job to arrange travel for your boss. This could be anything from booking a taxi to organising flights and hotel accommodation.

Administrative duties

Being a fast and accurate typist will always be a useful skill for anyone working as a personal assistant.

Perhaps your boss will dictate emails to you or maybe you’ll be preparing reports and presentations.

Many admin jobs will be part of the work you do, from filing to managing databases.

Being an intermediary

You’ll spend much of your time liaising with other people.

This is likely to include those who work in the same company, perhaps in your own building, or maybe in other national or global offices.

You may well also be required to correspond with clients, suppliers or contractors.

With such a varied workload, you could be arranging a meeting with a CEO one minute and organising caterers for a business lunch the next.

Managing finances

There may also be an aspect of fiscal management within the personal assistants remit.

Perhaps this is dealing with invoices, managing your employer’s expense reports, or paying bills for contractors and the like.

A closer look at the demands of the role and the skills to succeed

As you can see, the role of personal assistant is certainly very varied.

It can be a demanding job, but it can also be very satisfying.

Being a good multitasker is an excellent skill for a personal assistant, and you’ll also need impeccable attention to detail.

As a personal assistant, you’ll be expected to get everything right. There’s little room for error when booking your boss’s plane ticket or scheduling an appointment for them!

You’ll be dealing with many different people, so great communication skills are a must, and the ability to keep calm under pressure will put you in good stead. As a personal assistant there will be times when you feel stressed, and so being able to keep a cool head is vital.

Being a good problem solver is also an excellent skill to have.

Being able to adapt and change plans and react fast when things go wrong will put you at the top of the personal assistant game.

When your boss calls you to say his car has broken down on the way to the airport to catch a plane for an important meeting. What do you do? There’s no time to panic, you need to get the situation sorted fast.

Perhaps the most important skill that will help anyone succeed as a personal assistant is the ability to be versatile.

This role truly is diverse, and you should be prepared to perform a wide range of duties. You should be as confident organising catering for a conference as you are booking your boss’s car in for a repair.

What training do I need to become a personal assistant?

There isn’t any required training to become a personal assistant, but any courses related to being some sort of assistant will look good on your resume, whether that be an administrative assistant, virtual assistant, or an executive assistant (ideally).

Here at the Personal Assistant Institute, we have designed a personal assistant certification that brings all the skills required to be a personal assistant into one place, and awards you with a certificate of completion once you finish the course and complete the exam.

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