Ultimate guide: how to become a PA

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If you have your heart set on becoming a personal assistant, but don’t know how to take that first step, we’re here to help!

For over 20 years, Tiger has helped countless jobseekers to find their dream personal assistant job. In this blog, we’ll use that expertise to show you how to become a personal assistant, step-by-step.

Personal assistants are found in almost every industry and every type of company, making them a hugely appealing role to people of all different tastes and interests. If you have the skills, personality and work ethic to thrive in a PA role, you can pursue a career in finance, media, manufacturing, fashion, the public sector – wherever your passion lies!

The popularity of the role makes it a competitive market for jobseekers, so if you want to succeed in your search, you need to prepare. Let’s look at how you can set yourself up to be an exceptional PA and the steps you need to take to get a personal assistant job.

Learn about the role

You may feel that you already know all there is to know about a personal assistant – it’s all in the name, you assist your manager in their day-to-day work? But the duties of the PA role are more varied and complex than it might seem at first glance. Educating yourself on the reality of a PA career is the first step in how to become a PA.

Firstly, think about the industries you would be happy to work in as a PA. Now do your research on what is expected of a PA in those areas – a day in the life of a corporate banking PA may look very different to that of one working in TV, while private PAs can find themselves working on some very unusual tasks!

Next, you need to have a good understanding of your potential salary as a PA. These will likewise vary across industries, and tempering your expectations will help you plan personal budgets and prepare you for the negotiation stages of the interview process.

It’s not just the first salary you should be thinking about, but the potential for raises and promotions as your career progresses. There are several avenues for professional growth as a personal assistant – perhaps you’d one day like to move into an executive assistant job to get a sense of how a business operates at the senior level, or you dream of seeing the world while working in a virtual assistant position. You should explore all these possible paths and make short-to-medium term plans to help you follow them.

Tune up your skills

Once you have a firm grasp of what a career as a PA requires and promises, it’s time to look at your skillset, and what you could do to get it battle-ready! Successful  PA skills and PA traits include time-keeping and written communication, in addition to discretion and a positive, can-do attitude.

You may be worried that you lack the knowledge or talent for some of these skills, but even the best PAs weren’t born with them. Any of these can be learned from scratch, or regularly tuned-up to keep you at peak performance, and there are several routes you can go down to achieve this. These include full-time diplomas, online courses, tutors and expert seminars designed specifically for personal assistants. Read our list of the five best PA courses to learn more.

Write the perfect CV and cover letter

We haven’t forgotten the most obvious and practical step in how to become a personal assistant: applying for a job! But to give yourself the best chance of catching a hiring manager’s attention, you’ll need to get your personal assistant CV and cover letter in top condition.

Understanding the expectations of the role, and how your skills and personality are relevant to it will have a massive impact on the effectiveness of both documents. So, be sure to give proper consideration to the points we’ve made so far in this blog, and for more detailed advice on writing your CV, check out our guide to writing a PA personal statement.

Prepare for your interview

Securing an interview for a PA job can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking feeling. It’s only natural to be nervous, but the key to boosting your confidence and acing a PA interview is preparation.

With the right amount of research, you can build a detailed picture of a company’s culture and values, the personalities and preferences of the managers you may be working with, and the level of formality you should expect – is it suits and ties, or smart-casual?

This research will arm you with a knowledge of the company you’re interviewing for that will impress the hiring managers. It will also give you insights into the kind of questions they may ask, and spark your own ideas for questions PAs can ask at interview – a very effective way to show your enthusiasm.

Future-proof yourself with the latest tech

Whether you’re applying for your first PA job, or are an established pro, you should always keep an eye on the ways the role is changing. The biggest driver of change is emerging technologies, and they’re coming on at a rapid pace.

It’s often overlooked when explaining how to become a personal assistant, but being skilled with the latest computer software, hardware and apps can set you apart from the pack. If you can show a hiring manager that you can calculate expenses, prepare reports, and schedule meetings much more efficiently thanks to your tech knowledge, you’ll be an immediate front-runner.

Get started future-proofing yourself by reading our list of the five best tools for PAs.

There’s no quick answer to the question of how to become a personal assistant so, if you’re serious about pursuing a career as a PA, we highly recommend you read through all our blogs on the topic. The most important thing is preparation: fully understand what the role entails and requires, give an honest assessment of your current abilities, and bridge any gap by making use of the many resources, courses and tools out there for PAs.

When you’re ready to start the search for your dream personal assistant role, register with Tiger, and head over to our jobs page.

Author Rebecca Siciliano Tiger Recruitment Team

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