Five tips for successful PA recruitment

Employers
A PA recruitment consultant working at a home office at a computer.


Updated 12/6/2020

Recruitment of any kind presents a fantastic opportunity to refresh a team, job function or business culture. That being said, it’s not uncommon to feel some trepidation at the start of your recruitment journey. The process can take time and in a candidate-short market, you may need to shortlist multiple times before securing a suitable candidate. This is where working with an experienced recruiter can help.

PA recruitment, particularly, is unique as the cultural fit plays such a significant role in ensuring a candidate’s success. A personal assistant works so closely with their managers and team that it’s crucial to get the personality mix right. This is crucially relevant to permanent recruitment, while hiring a temp PA can generally be recruited quickly to fulfil the short-term functional requirements of the role.

If you’re considering hiring using an AI-based software for certain steps, such as CV screening, we would ask you to consider a different approach. While there is a place for this type of technology, especially when it comes to advanced candidate testing such as gamification, the ultimate decision for a candidate’s fit for a business should remain with human recruiters.

With this in mind, we’ve put together our top six tips on how a recruiter can help to ensure you hire a personal assistant who lasts the distance.

Personality fit

When it comes to hiring, the secret is getting the cultural alignment right, as their function involved supporting senior management. It’s not uncommon for us to see the majority of new employees hired based on their skillset, but within 12 months those same employees leave the business due to misaligned cultural fit. Hiring with this in mind isn’t easy: it’s not something that can be measured! If in doubt, we recommend you go with your gut feeling.

Your recruiter, if they are experienced, will be able to make decisions about a candidate’s personality to ensure they suit your existing fit. For example, if a candidate communicates quietly and seems withdrawn in their body language, a good recruiter will never send them to a workplace where they will be supporting outspoken, straight-to-the-point management styles.

Previous experience is a predictor of future behaviour

This is something a recruiter will always keep in mind when talking to a candidate about their CV. When you’re interviewing your next super PA, ask them to tell the story of their career to date, with a particular focus on how long they stayed at each job and why they left. If a candidate has previously jumped around from one role to the next, it generally does mean there’s a higher likelihood they’ll do the same again. Similarly, their reasons for leaving will often paint a more colourful picture about what they’re really looking for now.

Trust your recruiter

We wholeheartedly understand that no one knows your business like you do. But we do know the recruitment market, specifically the PA recruitment market. If we send you a CV and recommend a meeting, trust us! We’ve found the most successful placements have occurred with the most open-minded employers. Cultural fit is not something that can be taught. Skills can. So if the CV doesn’t look quite right but we tell you they’re worth meeting, take our word for it!

When looking for a PA, it’s essential to secure a robust shortlist to get an accurate overview of the market and available candidates. A recruiter should send you a few strong, but different options, to ensure you have a range of choices. If you have a particularly strong shortlist, this may make the decision-making process quite difficult! However, it will allow you to refine your priorities for the position requirements as well as give you assurance that you have found the very best person.

Identify soft skills

A personal assistant’s soft skills may not always be obvious from their CV, but they could prove to be integral to a role. A recruiter will be able to gauge a PA’s transferable attributes, such as emotional intelligence, leadership traits and communication style from an initial face-to-face registration. A PA will also be savvy to the ways of the city, including the best transport, food and gifting options: characteristics that are also important when supporting management. You’d be surprised by how much these little details make a difference when working with your PA!

Manage expectations and be responsive

While it’s important to have a process in place and ensure you’re leaving no stone unturned, it’s equally important to be responsive to the market. In our current market, speed is of the essence, especially with recruiting for PAs and EAs. We’ve seen hundreds of employers miss out on fantastic candidates by being unavailable or inflexible to interview or delaying feedback. Being unresponsive with your recruiter will be especially detrimental to you finding the best person for the job. As such, it’s also important to manage expectations, communicating the hiring process to both your recruiter and candidate. This way, they are less likely to look elsewhere, as they understand the timelines and required procedures.

Do you need to refresh the job description for your next personal assistant? Click on our PA job description template to help you on your way.

If you’re thinking about hiring a new permanent or temporary PA, contact us today.

David Morel Author David Morel Tiger Recruitment Team

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