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Personal assistant: job description

Personal assistant: job description

Personal assistants support the work of managers and company directors for whom they are employed to undertake a variety of administrative, clerical and managerial tasks.
Personal assistants often act as the manager's first point of contact.

What does a personal assistant do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • answering telephone calls
  • maintaining diaries
  • arranging appointments
  • taking messages
  • typing/word processing
  • filing
  • organising meetings
  • using a variety of software packages
  • booking transport and accommodation
  • managing databases
  • implementing and maintaining procedures/administrative systems
  • liaising with staff, suppliers and clients
  • preparing letters, presentations and reports

The work offers excellent scope for promotion into senior PA/administrative positions.

Typical employers of PAs

  • Local and national government
  • Small businesses
  • Major companies
  • Media firms
  • Charities
  • Financial institutions

Vacancies attract strong competition – graduates are often competing directly with very experienced PAs/administrative staff. Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and recruitment agencies and in local, regional and national newspapers (particularly The Guardian and The Times) and their respective websites.

Qualifications and training required

A degree in English, business, IT, languages, information science, administration or management can be beneficial, particularly for the most prestigious positions. Previous clerical, secretarial or commercial work experience is essential (some employers may expect as much as two years).

A variety of secretarial courses, including the LCCI Private/Executive Secretarial Diploma, are available at further education colleges. Relevant experience can be gained via temporary agency work, which may in turn lead to permanent work.

Key skills for PAs

  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Ability to multitask
  • Organisational skills
  • Communication skills
  • IT skills
  • Secretarial skills
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