Behind every successful senior manager or director, you’ll typically find a personal assistant (PA). Working as the first point of contact for C-level executives’ coworkers and clients, PAs are the discreet powerhouses who handle everything from screening phone calls plus handling email enquiries to managing daily diaries to taking meeting notes. Clearly, the appeal of this particular Business Support role lies in the fact that every day offers something new and interesting – whether you remain at the same firm or change from one industry to another. With this in mind, we take a look at some of the best ways for you to kickstart a career as a PA.
- Improve your set of qualifications
To kickstart a career as a PA, you don’t need to meet any specific requirements – bar the standard GCSEs in English and Maths. But why not set yourself apart from the competition? Go one step further, and obtain a recognised certificate or higher qualification.
From the NVQ level 2 and/or 3 in Business and Administration to the Pitman Executive PA Diploma to the City & Guilds Certificate in Business and Administration, you have a range of options to pursue. Any one of these will equip you with the wide-ranging knowledge necessary to boost the quality of your applications.
- Gain relevant office experience
Exposure to working as a Business Support professional alongside others is an important building block for a career as a PA. Regardless of whether you choose an administrative, secretarial, receptionist, or data entry role, most employers will expect you to have at least two years of collective experience.
And temping is the ideal route to a career as a PA, as you’ll also have the freedom to move between various companies, sectors, and industries – allowing you decide what area you enjoy most and would like to ideally specialise within a permanent role. Plus, you’ll get to know the ins and outs of a business environment, helping you better adapt to the demanding yet fulfilling role of a PA.
- Develop your soft skills
As you’ll be quite aware by now, a career as a PA is multi-faceted one that brings with it a ton of responsibilities – some quite exciting, some quite stressful. So, what’s the best way to manage both aspects of the role? Demonstrate your range of transferable skills. Whether you opt for further study or temping work, you’re bound to pick up and broaden skills including excellency in the following:
- Communication (written and verbal) skills;
- Interpersonal skills;
- Organisational, planning, and time management skills;
- Accuracy and attention to detail;
- A calm, composed, and professional manner;
- IT and administration skills;
- The ability to work independently, with little supervision;
- The ability to use your initiative;
- The ability to multi-task.
- Adopt a proactive attitude
The core element of a career as a PA is a positive, “can-do” attitude. You’ll be working under pressure and to strict (plus often last-minute) deadlines on tasks that were totally alien to you a minute ago. That’s the nature of this Business Support function – it’s ever changing, and can naturally provoke a range of emotions in you including feeling overwhelmed. It’s fine since every person and workplace has its share of challenging days. But those who want a longstanding career as a PA must embrace all constructive criticism and adapt to the unique needs of any given situation – all in order to deliver the desired outcome without fail.
Prior to having these opportunities to do so, you need to prove yourself within the pages of your application. So, utilise your cover letter to explain past examples where you’ve demonstrated a passion and ability for getting things done – especially in the context of arising problems or tricky situations.
If you think you’re ready for a career as a PA, why not start with vacancies via Kingsley Hamilton People? Our team of Business Support consultants are currently working on roles in Surrey and Bristol. Or call 020 7078 0213 to chat to our team about your options.