Whether it’s in taking on a new role or in updating your CV, it’s important to be precise with the personal assistant duties that your role has or will involve, while also being exact as to the extent and regularity of these. With a role varied and demanding as that of a personal assistant, you might think such a task near enough impossible. However, it’s because of this that you need to make the effort to establish the guidelines for prospective employers to be aware of how much you’ve done, while also being explicit as to these boundaries when starting a new role.
Emails and Calls
Dealing with correspondence and telephone calls are the most basic, yet possibly time consuming, aspect of any PAs role. In the same way a PA will be expected to read, monitor and respond to all correspondence – electronic or otherwise – they’ll also be tasked with gatekeeping all calls, assessing which are worthy of passing on and dealing with all others personally.
Diary management, liaising and booking
Being organised and methodical are traits all PAs must possess, and no aspect of the role will be more demanding of these talents than managing diaries while liaising with others to ensure availability and no clashes, while also making the necessary bookings for travel, transport, dining, meeting space or entertainment. Depending on the amount of schedules involved, this aspect of the job could very well be an entire role in itself – be sure to brag adequately if you have succeeded in juggling some particularly challenging diaries and clarify any doubts to ensure expectations on this front are not unrealistic.
Meetings and minutes
Meetings will occupy a great deal of your time as a PA, and no doubt cause more than one head ache along the way. You may be tasked with attending on a regular basis, either with or on behalf of your principal, with taking notes, or even the official minutes, expected on a regular basis. However, it’ll be the planning or meeting and preparation of paperwork or presentations for these that will test your skills.
Budgets and events
Some of the duties your PA role will require of you will move further away from the usual secretarial undertakings and move into the realm of roles in their own right. The management of budgets and events are two examples of the expectations of a PA that, if excelled at, can be excellent platform for career progression, as they both combine an array of skills and will regularly go hand in hand. Makes sure to mention particularly impressive figures and stats in your CV when referencing budgets or events managed.
Many PAs who assist the top dog of an office will also be the de facto manager of the space – From equipment to suppliers, cleaners and temps, repairs and orders, you may be charged with overseeing all aspects of the office’s day-to-day survival. Again, although only an aspect of a PAs role it is regularly, in itself, a full time job. Expectations have to be measured in this respect – an office of 10 and an office of 100 will obviously have hugely different time requirements. Be sure to enquire further whenever you see this listed in a job description, and add perspective to the demands if you feel there is an unrealistic expectation.
It’s not unusual for PAs to be tasked with overseeing the work of fellow colleagues, or indeed, to have assistants of their own that work can be delegated to. Be clear in stipulating the exact function of such past relationships, and establish any expectations in future ones.
There is of course a “personal” aspect to the assistant duties that all PAs are often assumed to undertake – picking up dry cleaning, buying gifts for a spouse or child minding duties may well be aspects of your role, but clarity at the front end is essential on the matter. If you’ve undertaken these in the past and do not wish to in the future, then simply omit them from your CV. Similarly, if your new roles includes any ambiguity relating to “additional tasks”, be unafraid to tackle their boundaries to ensure you are not taken advantage of.