The seven traits of a successful PA
Being a PA is not a walk in the park! You must be extremely efficient and be thinking ten steps ahead of your boss. You need to act as a second brain for your principals and adapt your working style to match theirs. Some bosses may want you involved in their personal life — and ask you to complete such tasks as paying bills and organising family holidays — whereas others may just want you to keep an eye purely on their work life.
Whatever the situation and principal, you must be prepared for all circumstances and be ready for whatever may happen next. Therefore, when looking for a PA job, it’s essential that you can demonstrate the following traits.
Communication is absolutely crucial as a PA. Your boss may only like a certain form of communication –email, text, phone call or face to face. No matter their preference, ensure that you are relaying all information back to them. Some bosses like their PAs to attend all meetings with them. If this is the case, it is crucial to make thorough notes that you can discuss post meeting. You will then be able to pull them apart and prioritise action points. If you do not go to meetings with your boss, suggest sitting down together afterwards to discuss everything that had been touched on. This way you are constantly in the loop and have a good understanding of the situation.
While maintaining a work/life balance is important, you must be prepared to have to work early or late at short notice. You need to merge your lifestyle into the people that you are supporting and be prepared to drop everything at short notice. It is extremely common that your boss’s diary and workload will change quickly and dramatically, so being flexible is an absolute must to allow for the smooth running of their day-to-day activities. There may be circumstances in which you need to be contactable outside of normal office hours. When this happens, it is vital that you are flexible with your principal’s requests, ensuring that all issues are resolved quickly.
You must be organised. Implement organisational structures into your work and keep to them. By keeping your work life neat and tidy, it will keep your mind clear and ready for all situations. You do not want to get to the point in your day where you urgently need to find documentation and you are struggling to find it in your messy inbox!
Try to organise all of your emails into set folders. Break them down into sender or task and store all correspondence in each folder. Alternatively, there are apps you can use to manage your inboxes and diaries, ensuring that all emails are on hand when you need them.
It’s also essential to keep a to-do list. Every time you have a new task come up, think about its priority within your workload, then place it accordingly in your list. This reduces your chances of forgetting something and will help with your time management.
If nothing else, a PA must be proactive. It’s vital that you can keep ahead of your boss, regardless of the situation. On a Monday, review the meetings your boss has this week, ensuring that all requirements, such as notes and rooms, are considered ahead of time. Your first thought should always be ‘what is my boss going to need?’.
There may be a time where your boss is out of the office, or away on annual leave, leaving you to manage their affairs. As the first point of contact for clients and contacts, you will need to maintain high levels of professionalism and ensure that you are acting exactly as your boss would do in each situation.
When recruiting for a personal assistant, we always look for calm and collected individuals that work well under pressure. The PA role can be incredibly stressful at times, so a successful PA must be able to approach every situation with a smile, working logically through each problem to find a solution. By keeping calm and staying upbeat, you will be able to complete tasks to a higher standard.
A PA is often required to represent your boss and company either on the telephone, via email or face to face. Therefore, you need to be comfortable engaging in small talk and networking. Whatever the situation, always be polite and courteous! Your boss will expect you to stay positive and have that can-do attitude at all times.
When working as a personal assistant, you cannot expect praise every time you do a task on your to-do list. You must have self-motivation and be able to get on with your workload without a pat on the back every five minutes! Set yourself goals within your working day. Aim to complete a certain number of tasks on your to-do list before you get your next cup of coffee. Working hard may look like it is going unrecognised when your boss is extremely busy, but it is always noticed.
This is probably the most important of them all. You must be efficient with your time when working as a PA. Break down your day and allocate adequate time for each task on your to-do list. Take on your most difficult and time-consuming tasks at the beginning of the day. By leaving these to the end of the day, it will just raise stress levels and weaken your standard of work.
Before asking your boss, think about what you actually need to do. By asking your boss numerous questions that may be unnecessary, you are essentially wasting both yours and your boss’s time. Take a second to think before you speak!
Looking for a PA job? Tiger Recruitment can help. Get in touch today!