Personal assistant: job description, skills, and career recommendations

Let’s imagine the situation: you are the leader. Business is developing. There are more and more projects, employees, urgent tasks. How can you keep track of business processes, speak at conferences, communicate with employees, and have a rest?

The first solution is to hire a personal assistant, who will help to cope with the routine. This person will make your schedule for the day, remind your colleague of the meeting, bring coffee when you are tired, order flowers for your mother, and find a comfortable fitness center. In this article we’ll will give instructions on how to be (and hire) the perfect assistant.

Personal assistant job description

For many people, a personal assistant is an on-board computer: a list of actions was entered into the program in advance and launched. The button is clicked, the car parks itself, and we can solve more complex tasks at this time.

But what to do if the list of tasks does not include parking, but a bend in the air or a flight into outer space? If the company continues to develop, the manager will not need an onboard computer, but a full co-pilot.

A co-pilot can become your hands, your voice, and sometimes an extension of your brain. You reported a problem, and the co-pilot thought to record it, develop it, pass it on to the appropriate employee, accept the result, and present it.

How is a business assistant different from an ordinary secretary? 

I often have to perform complex and extraordinary personal assistant duties, which are far beyond the usual duties of a secretary. For example, to think over and implement a system of gambling in daily processes or to develop a tool that will allow memorizing even more data.

Of course, I also do routine tasks, but even here I can be more proactive and creative, enhancing the effectiveness of the manager. 

Let’s take a simple example – calendar management. What does a secretary do with a calendar? All day long he keeps his schedule ready, adds meetings to the calendar, and makes sure the schedule is convenient for the manager.

What do I do with the calendar? When I took up this position, I also started to keep a calendar, but at the same time, I observed the work of the manager and suggested changes. 

It was important to protest whether all the meetings work for the long-term plans of the company and whether they meet the goals of the manager and his team. It turned out that some meetings could be painlessly canceled or delegated.

What are top 3 skills for PA position

When you are looking for a business assistant, you will first make a list of requirements – personal wishes, criteria dictated by the company, and skills required for this personal assistant job.

To make it easier for you, I will give you a list of requirements that Hariton had when he was looking for me.

1. A good PA is a manager.

As we have already understood, the co-pilot is a continuation of the leader, a person with the same views and tastes. A business assistant easily captures the logic and principles of his boss and can reproduce them in working situations. What criteria reflect the “likeness” of the manager?

“Matching” – proximity in spirit, common interests, values, attitudes, and perceptions of life. 

Taste – if an assistant has to choose a restaurant, tutor, or design for a weekly label, it is important that the tastes of the manager and assistant match or overlap.

Comfort – with a business assistant you have to spend a lot of time. Communication with this person mustn’t be annoying.

2. He or she will cope with personal assistant duties.

The business assistant has a list of tasks. Under it, you can make a list of competencies and personal qualities that allow you to perform these tasks. Hariton has a list like this.

Project manager skills: diligence, perseverance, attentiveness, focus, commitment, consistency. An assistant with such skills can share with you both personal and business tasks. 

Attention to detail. To achieve exceptional business results, you need to focus on global things. Business assistants can take care of the little things. 

Good feedback from your previous employer. It’s a simple and capacious indicator of professional experience in the field.

Learnability. For personal assistant jobs, it’s the ability to quickly find information and study it. To be most useful and extremely improve your efficiency, the assistant himself should constantly develop: to understand the metrics and business processes, get acquainted with the best practices, learn from the experience of their colleagues. 

3. It’ll be a long time to work

A business assistant is an employee responsible for a large number of well-established processes. He must have an excellent knowledge of the manager’s habits, goals, and objectives. It is too difficult and time-consuming to introduce a new person to the position constantly. How to understand that a business assistant is set up for long-term cooperation? 

Here are the skills you need to master to become an outstanding personal assistant

If you are interested in how to become a personal assistant, see this list of skills you should have.

No fear of routine. What is there to hide is an integral part of any assistant’s job. It’s important to make sure that a potential candidate is ready for it.

Obligation. To be your continuation, a business assistant must work at the same level, if not more than you. The manager needs to make sure that the contribution to the employee is justified. In our case, the criteria were readiness to work in the office, from 50 hours a week, for at least three years.

Ambition within the profession. Many assistants see this job as a springboard to something bigger. Sometimes it happens because the assistant does not see the prospects for development in this position (and there are!), and sometimes because he originally “took a wrong turn”. The assistant works well if his or her goals lie within the field of his or her current professional tasks.

What does a personal assistant do (personal tasks):

  • Budget management and small payments for household tasks (I transfer money to a separate card every month, the assistant pays for tickets from it, different expenses, and contributes everything to the application splitwise). This way, I do not make small payments myself.
  • Keeping my home in good condition (calling the cleaning lady, doing minor repairs). Before the arrival of the assistant, the task of going to IKEA to do small things was postponed for a year and a half.
  • Shopping in online shops (Order, pay, track delivery, meet the courier). This is usually a terrible distraction when the courier needs to clarify something, he is lost and calls me in the middle of the meeting. Switching times and distractions are very expensive.
  • Dealing with the family’s domestic needs. Like, my mom’s faucet in the kitchen broke down, I need to buy a new one, call a master who will supply and so on.
  • Providing my balanced uninterruptible power supply and coordination between my chef and nutritionist (I will talk about this in another article).
  • Helping me keep in touch with my loved ones. When you’re all in business, they suffer first. We start forgetting to congratulate them on the DR, at the last moment we buy not the best gifts. The assistant helps a lot when you ask him to come up with a cool gift.
  • Organization and travel planning. (It’s not just buying tickets, but also planning a trip so you don’t have to spend extra money, maximizing the pleasure and benefit of the trip in the time allocated. For example, I’m constantly faced with the fact that I’ve come to a new place and start looking for the best restaurant, it is, of course, always booked, good accommodation at the last moment is also not enough, etc.).
  • A separate issue is health. As long as we do not have any pain, no one goes to the doctor. I like to go to the dentist before toothaches. This also applies to other things. But if it’s not on the schedule and nobody manages it, it works out like everyone else. And there’s also an assistant who has the task of finding the best doctors by recommendation. 

What does a personal assistant do (business tasks):

  • Organization of meetings (search for places, booking tables, meet guests, explain how to get there, etc.). I just come to a meeting). This also includes the organization of conference calls, gathering all, and more. It seems to be just a few minutes, but where there are 5, there are 15, so 4-5 times a day and quietly is 30-45 minutes daily.
  • Optimization of my calendar (especially for external meetings. Since the assistant keeps an eye on the optimal logistics). 
  • Re-scheduling your calendar when a meeting moves or is demolished. (It’s challenging to do and talk to everyone).
  • Help in preparing for important meetings (packing presentations, projector and equipment checks, preparing files for important and unfamiliar participants).
  • Keeps track of and reminds you of recurring routine tasks (like periodic reports to investors).
  • Helps to track tasks for the team. Without creating pressure in the pipe, the team periodically relaxes, the tasks that people have taken over, leaked, and need to periodically ping all to create a pace. 
  • Reviews the documents that are brought to my signature.
  • Helps me maintain a relationship with the network. I looked it up at Peter Teal and his assistant once. These tasks he calls the network feeling loved. Literally – an advanced assistant can communicate in social networks on my behalf, make the right contacts, and so on. (I haven’t gotten to his level yet, but my assistant can look at everyone who is added to my Facebook and interesting people to send welcome notes (usually cool people respond). Keeping a friend list with an understanding of who, where, and in what position he is currently working. That’s all the things that aren’t valuable in a moment and that I don’t usually do, but for a long time it’s very useful.
  • Helps to better dispose of my Network (especially when you need to find someone, get an intro, or collect feedback or expertise). The assistant writes (sometimes even on my behalf, collects recommendations, makes arrangements for meetings, confirms them in advance, Folouapit, and chase them). 
  • Helps with public communications and events (decides on interviews or participation in speeches, where my name is, finds out the details, plans logistics, Folouapit, and places content on my behalf after my speech). I have a plan of activities that I want to do in a year, an assistant monitors the implementation of the plan and helps to organize and reach the right people as needed. 
  • He is responsible for meeting incoming external requests by creating a primary filter based on my decision criteria. 
  • Does simple research, the analytics I need to make decisions and meetings. For example, make a selection of top conferences on the topic think for me, where to go, what budget to prepare, with whom to coordinate, and so on. Or to monitor the activity of competitors for the last 6 months, to make a squeeze, etc. 
  • Helps with HR. Reviewing resumes, meeting sets, help in getting reference checks, finding recommendations, contacting candidates, follow up, and tracking who went where to work. 

Personal assistant salary

The national average salary for a Personal Assistant is $26,350 in the United States. Filter by location to see Personal Assistant salaries in your area. Salary estimates are based on 2,198 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by Personal Assistant employees. That’s how much do personal assistants make


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