Skip links

Qualities Employers Look for in a Personal Assistant

When the delicate juggle between administrative, personal, and professional obligations becomes too tricky, it’s time to consider a Personal Assistant. While the role of the PA in popular culture plays an increasingly large function – Kristen Stewart, Anne Hathaway, and Scarlett Johansson have all assumed roles as PAs in films at some point – the alchemy of what creates the perfect personal assistant is difficult to understand. Joseph Addison’s quote above demonstrates the core function of a personal assistant – lightening the burden of others by streamlining process, being constantly professional, and holding a high standard of care. Your personal assistant will be inextricably bound in the most important professional and personal concerns of your day, and the hiring process for an excellent PA is one of our most stringent. Below, we outline the three key qualities any employer should look for in their PA.

“No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another”, Joseph Addison.

A Personal Assistant Should Have A Flexible Approach

As your job or personal life evolves, so too will the demands of your personal assistant. As such, you require someone with a flexible set of skills and personality.  Some skills are universal in descriptions for PA jobs, such as excellent interpersonal skills, being detail-oriented, and a good drip on computer functions.  Being a good multi-tasker, for example, is central to the very essence of a PA role.  However, question in interviews, and insert into contracts, the possibility that the demands of the role are subject to change, and the PA candidate will be expected to perform duties “as assigned”. Roberta Chinsky Matuson, founder and principal of Human Resource Solutions, an HR consulting company, states this is essential, so that “a hire doesn’t come back and say ‘that wasn’t in my job description”. A good PA is one with a flexible approach, one who is able to learn new skills on the job to fit your needs.

A Proactive Attitude

Obviously the day-to-day schedule of a PA exists in symbiosis with your own, their activities and planning is all intertwined and dependent upon your own plans. Nonetheless, being an effective PA demands precise judgment – someone adept at anticipating your needs based on their own calculation and translation of your priorities. Many PAs can fulfil basic administrative tasks but those who go the extra mile, who take proactive measures, time-manage expertly, and can act on your behalf without requiring your surveillance for every task, are the ones who will truly revamp your lifestyle and simplify your daily agenda. A proactive attitude reflects someone who is comfortable in themselves and in their position.

A Great First Impression

As your PA, that individual is a spokesperson for you, and a face of your company/brand.  Fulfilling core administrative tasks on your behalf, their words and actions are an extension of your own; clearly, you need someone with a friendly demeanour and consummate professionalism.  Consequently, many aspiring employers keep their eyes continually peeled for a striking individual to match this description. If they made a great first impression on you, it’s likely they’ll do the same with others in your social and professional circles. At Irving Scott, we understand that a magnetic personality must complement an exceptional skill set. When meeting our selection, consider the behavioural list of traits you most value in a prospective PA, and give this consideration equal measure alongside their experiential characteristics.

Irving Scott holds the above traits as essential requirements for every PA in its talent pool; alongside the chief characteristics of tact, discretion, excellent problem-solving. By allowing us to circumvent the often-exhausting search process on your behalf, we shortcut your route to finding an excellent PA. The Guardian said recently that “Where a PA or secretary used to have a purely reactive role, they are now proactively finding new ways to improve processes and contribute to the goals of the organisation.” Irving Scott will ensure your PA helps you reach your goals, with flexibility, proactivity, and professionalism every step of the way.