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Personal Assistant Duties and Attributes

THE PA ROLE VERSUS THE EA ROLE
The Personal Assistant role is becoming increasingly similar to the Executive Assistant role as employers become more aware that titles are powerful incentives for employee recruitment and retention. Employers have discovered that they can pay employees less if they offer them a more impressive title. Consequently, many EA roles could accurately be categorised as PA jobs. (See attributes of Executive Assistant role.)

Personal Assistants should fully understand the scope of Personal Assistant duties and the required attributes. If you are considering a career as a corporate Personal Assistant, Senior Secretary or Senior Administrator, you will find the following outline of typical PA skills, goals, objectives and duties useful. They represent the attributes hiring managers and employment agencies look for when filling PA positions; especially PA jobs that command a high salary.

PA ATTRIBUTES

The attributes of a good PA are:
personal assistant, office personnel, secretary, PA, black PA, business wear, - efficient
- discrete
- flexible
- self-motivated
- organised
- proactive
- a good communicator

One of the most important requirements of the PA skill-set is IT literacy. At the very least, PAs should have advanced-level skills in Word for Windows and Microsoft PowerPoint. And an intermediate level knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

MAINTAINING PERSONAL ASSISTANT DEVELOPMENT
PAs manage and source resources and conduct research, so they need to be well informed, and internet savvy. They also need to keep up-to-date with the latest office gadgets and industry best practices; therefore, PA refresher training and advanced-level PA training are essential for maintaining PA continuous professional development.

WORKING UNDER PRESSURE
Personal Assistants are calm under pressure and capable of thinking on their feet in a crisis. They typically support senior managers, executives and teams. Gone are the days when PAs were dedicated to one boss. Private secretaries, Celebrity Personal Assistants and PAs who work for high-net-worth individuals typically work for one person.

Personal Assistants are increasingly required to work for many bosses and sometimes this is in addition to working for a team. Consequently, the PA role has become a highly stressful one, particularly for Executive PAs, as they generally have special projects to deal with in addition to their daily tasks.

PAs should be capable of competently dealing with situations in their boss’s absence and should be confident enough to delegate work on their boss's behalf. Maintaining confidentiality is a fundamental requirement for any PA.

PAs should also keep abreast of organisational issues and have a general understanding of the organisation's aims and objectives. Above all, a PA's role is to support her/his boss in delivering on his/her goals.

UNDERSTANDING PA DUTIES
Corporate Personal Assistant positions demand competence and skill at performing the following duties:

- reading, monitoring and responding to the boss's email,
- answering calls and handling queries,
- preparing correspondence on your boss's behalf,
- delegating work in your boss's absence,
- liaising with staff, clients, etc.,
- managing your boss's electronic diary,
- organising meetings,
- organising travel and preparing complex travel itineraries,
- attending meetings on your boss's behalf
- writing minutes,
- taking dictation,
- planning, organising and managing events,
- managing a budget,
- attending events/meetings as your boss's representative,
- conducting research on the internet,
- writing reports, executive summaries, newsletters,
- preparing presentations,
- preparing papers for meetings,
- managing and reviewing filing and office systems,
- preparing updates for intranet,
- typing documents,
- sourcing and ordering stationery and office equipment,
- managing projects,
- managing an Assistant.

This is not an exhaustive list so it's clear that the Personal Assistant role is a wide and varied one.

You will notice that some of the above tasks sit quite well under the Executive Assistant role. As mentioned above, the Personal Assistant title and the Executive Assistant title are sometimes used interchangeably. Generally speaking, in addition to the above duties and attributes, the Executive Assistant role also commands a good grasp of operations and business practices; a solid understanding of the company's goals and strategies, and good project management skills.


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RECOMMENDED PUBLICATIONS

Be the Ultimate Assistant: A celebrity assistant's secrets to working with any high-powered employer by Bonnie Low Kramen

The Essential Handbook For Personal Assistants (Tools for becoming or hiring the ultimate Personal Assistant) by Craig S. Copeland

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