When you decide that you want to become a personal assistant, the aim is always to be the best that you can be. Not only does this lead to job satisfaction but also to well-paid roles and a feeling of being an indispensable part of the business. But how can you prepare for this?
Courses and training
For most PAs, they start training in college or take night classes to retrain into the profession. There are lots of great regional places to train such as Executive PA Courses in Manchester so you don’t need to travel too far from home to study and this makes it a great option if you are already working a job while studying.
When looking at training, look for courses that are COD Accredited and have a solid background in teaching the topic – having been established for a good period of time, for example, is one good sign. Look for courses that are very practical and teach a mixture of technical and soft skills that you will need for a PA role and that provide a certificate or diploma at the end that you can use on your CV.
Training is an important first step but while doing this, you should also look at the skills and attributes that employers will seek in a PA and cultivate them in yourself.
Flexibility and adaptability are two key attributes for a PA – you need to be able to adapt to changing situations, schedule alterations or unexpected events that throw everything out of the window. This means that you need to learn the best organisational skills in order to cope with whatever is thrown at you during the day.
Employers will look for people who are calm and professional with good interpersonal skills and the ability to multi-task. You want to show that you can handle the workload and that you are ready to take on unexpected extra tasks.
Technical skills can depend somewhat on the industry that you go into but there are some things you can guarantee that employers will look for. Knowledge of common email systems and online calendars are two examples while some familiarity with software for report writing and preparing presentations may be helpful. Minute writing and researching on the internet are also useful skills to foster when in meetings and arranging things for your employer.
Being the best
What makes a PA stand out as the best in their business is often about the subtle things that you do as part of your role. Knowing what your boss needs and anticipating their requirements before they tell you what they are can be very useful. This does take some time to learn as you need to get to know your boss in order to anticipate them but start working on this from day one – learn their habits, their routines, what they like and don’t.
Training before the job is important but also keep up your skills while you are in the role – continuing to learn and keeping up to date with the latest software, approaches and techniques keeps you at the forefront of your industry. While industries often have dedicated software, make sure you are up to date on all the general stuff so you can also switch industries easily if needed.
Being a great PA isn’t about being perfect but about being prepared and ready to do what it takes to get the job done. And if there is a mistake, don’t be afraid to own up to it and move on – that’s another key trait that makes the best personal assistants.
What are your top tips for being a great PA?