By Emma Lambden
Are you currently working as a secretary or admin assistant and thinking of becoming a career PA? Do you have a good idea of what a PA does but aren’t sure how to choose the right role for you? Below is my list of the top five things to think about when considering moving into a PA role.
Why do you want to be a PA and what do you want to get out of the role?
Think about your reasons for becoming a PA. Do you want to work with the most senior people in an organisation and be at the heart of decision making? Do you want to support someone who works in a particular area for example do you like Finance and want to work for a Finance Director. Are you looking for a very traditional PA role encompassing personal support as well as business support or do you want to work very much on the business side. Thinking about these things will help you decide whether or not you will enjoy a job.
What PA skills do you already have and what other skills do you have that may be transferrable?
You will no doubt have learned some of the skills required to be a PA from your administrative work experience, for example you may have good skills in communicating with senior staff, or of preparing presentations and reports. However, if you are not already working as a PA there are likely to be many aspects of the role that you will not yet have had experience of. For example, you may not have had experience of building a 1-1 relationship with an Executive, or of managing a complex diary. In these cases, try to think of the skills you have learned from the duties you currently perform and see which will be transferrable. For example, you may not have had to arrange a complex travel itinerary for an executive, but you may have had experience of arranging a large scale event which has taught you the skills needed to make the best use of someone’s time.
If you want to progress internally, try to think about how your current role fits with the aims of the organisation.
Being a PA requires a good understanding of how your organisation works and its strategic aims. If you want to progress into a PA role in the organisation you are currently working, try to think about how your current role fits with the aims of the department and organisation you are in, how the work you and your team do support the organisation’s mission and get a holistic view of the organisation. For example, if your organisation is looking at changing behaviours and trying to stop people smoking, how does you role fit with this. You may feel as though you just support others working to this mission, but everything you do has an impact. You may be responsible for sending out information packs – if these packs are incorrect, their effect will be minimised.
Speak to other PAs, in person at events or through social networking such as Twitter. I find that I learn the best from sharing best practice and also things that didn’t quite work. Pick up tips and learn how other PAs do their jobs, then think about how you can transfer these ideas into your own organisation.
Make sure you not only let a prospective employer know the skills and experiences you have, but also the impact you will have as a PA. This ties in to knowing the strategic aims of the organisation – how can you support the executive in the best way to allow him to work on these strategic areas. Have you got experience in Marketing that you could use to take away some of the more operational aspects of the role of a Director? Do you have systems you could use for monitoring targets? Are you good at building relationships with potential customers? What puts you a cut above other PAs?
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