Monday, 15 September 2014

What is needed to be a good PA?

PA work is challenging because the role is less clearly defined many other admin roles. Therefore, you have to respond to any challenges that are faced by your boss, company or team. This means that you need to be very adaptable and possess a wide range of technical and soft skills to be a successful PA.

A good PA needs a wide range of technical skills and we will focus on the most common. One very important skill is Microsoft Office software. PAs need to have excellent Outlook skills so that they can organise diaries and manage email accounts. They need great Word skills for business letters, document production and memos. PowerPoint is essential for editing presentations and finally Excel for budgets, planning and many other things.

A PA also needs excellent communication skills. This means that they need to be able to possess the best writing skills. The ability to communication formally or informally through written communication is essential.

Communication skills are not only written, but they can incorporate a wide range of verbal and visual communication. Mastering body language and the way that you communicate verbally is essential to ensure that you build networks, influence others and work well with others.

There are numerous other technical skills that are required. Typing competence is often required in PA roles, although with modern technology and changes in the nature of the job there has been less of a fundamental requirement for fast typing. Good minute taking skills are often required, as PAs who can take effective minutes will be desired in many roles.

Bookkeeping skills or the ability to maintain budgets is often required in roles. This is a skill that can be hard to find amongst PAs, but a PA with Bookkeeping skills is an attractive prospective candidate to an employer. Event Management and Project skills are often desired by companies who are looking for a PA who can get involved in a wider range of responsibilities.

These are just the most common skills required but they can vary greatly from job to job. The industry that you work will also impact it and the size and nature of your company, organisation or department. However, generally speaking a good PA should look to master all of the above skills, if they would like to be a great success in their long-term career. 

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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Promote your career as an administrator or PA

Whether you are a receptionist, administration assistant, PA or secretary, it is your responsibility to manage and promote your career and highlight the importance of your job. To this end you need to have confidence in yourself and your skills.

You should step back and take an objective look at your skills. Do you need to improve on these skills? If this is the case then you can do something about it by enrolling on a course. By developing these skills, you will find you have a new found confidence in yourself. Of course this does not mean you should stop here. What about the next step up your career ladder? You should be developing and also learning any skills that are needed in that job.

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Taking these steps will automatically raise your profile in the office. Being professional, knowledgeable and courteous to all, whether senior or junior member of staff, will earn you that respect that professional yearn.

There are people in your organization who like to have a role model. Senior management can also find a quality in you that they crave. Colleagues at your level can also respect you. Junior staff will often follow your example and model themselves on you; they may even copy your style of dress. These are all well-earned points that you should be aware of and nurture.

You will now feel stronger and empowered. You will feel you can achieve more. With this new found confidence, you will be able to achieve more. You will no longer be scared to try new things or take on extra responsibilities that once terrified you. You will now have a solid status for responsibility and excellence.

You will need to promote yourself so management will be aware of your skills. How can this be done? You may have taken it on yourself to enrol on a course in order to improve your skills. You should let management know of this whether mentioning it periodically or bringing to their attention of a certain task which you can finish quickly because of the course and you can also offer to take on more jobs.

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You will be invigorated and happy at work. You are ready for that promotion. You are also ready for the job market with your now updated CV.
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Friday, 29 August 2014

PAs looking to change careers

Job markets have increasingly become more competitive, which has led to many professional widening their skills and experience in order to keep on top of things. This has applied to the PA job market, which has seen PAs getting more involved in a wide range of areas. Nowadays, it is common to see job applications and roles for PA that require Project experience, bookkeeping skills or other non core skills, like managing an event or sales. We could just look at this in a passive way. This means that as a PA we need to respond to the request placed upon us by broadening our skills.

However, the increased skills and experience that we are gaining can also lead to us being able to find new career opportunities or promotions.

So what can we expect from our career experiences?

  • Project Management
This area is exciting as it has grown a lot over the last few years. Project teams are keen to involve employees who are permanent parts of the BAU teams (business as usual), which often leads to PAs gaining experience in the areas. Projects offers PAs a career option that can be varied and interesting. It can also offer higher rates of pay.

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  • Executive Assistant
Developing a good mix of skills and an excellent set of experience for a PA can bring a higher grade and salary as an Executive Assistant. This is perhaps the most obvious route but it can highly rewarding n every aspect. You will be privy to higher level management, deal with high level issues and get more seniority in your role. Naturally the promotion brings more salary.

  • Virtual Assistant
Many PAs opt to work in their own businesses, giving them flexibility. VAs are a growing group of often former PAs who opt to change for independence and flexi-hours.You will often be working alone and the pay can be rewarding but there is a risk as you are going out alone.

Image courtesy of and author stockimages

  • Finance
 PAs are increasingly managing expenses and budget, which encourages some to seek more formal training in finance or bookkeeping. This is huge area which can open up options to be self employed bookkeepers, VAs offering bookkeeping or a more specialised role in a finance department. Again pay and job options can be excellent

There are many other areas not mentioned here, but you can see that there no need to regard being aaPA as not having options to develop. You can find out more about PA training at

Thursday, 21 August 2014

My Job as a PA

On successful completion of my university course, I was ready for the working world. With a 2:1 and with high marks throughout my time at both primary and secondary schools, I was confident I will be needed by lots of companies in my country. What I did not expect is that there were also hundreds of students in the city with similar or close to similar qualifications as mine. There were also thousands coming into the city from different provinces. They were all after one thing – that much needed job that they all think they can easily find in this city. 

Image courtesy of and author stuart miles

My parents recommended that I go after a job in a place that would feel secure. I did find that job in government albeit not what I expected. The role was the Administrator’s assistant. I was excited at this first job and thought it will be the ideal step on the ladder to a great career.

On my first day, I discovered that there were many Administrator’s assistants. Everyone had a specific job and they kept to that. Mine was filing! I was not supposed to do anything but filing. The salary was relevant to the job – small; but I was determined not to give up. There were very few positions available so it would have been pointless to resign. Also having 2 months in a job would not look good on my CV so I stayed on and filed.

After about one year filing, I witnessed a slight accident and rushed to assist. My manager was laden with files and paperwork when she tripped on a loose carpet tile and sent all the files and paper flying. I was quite concerned for her but she was more interested in getting the papers together in some sort of order. As the filing clerk, this was easy for me. I helped her to a chair and she watched as I quickly put everything in order. She then wanted to know why the carpet tile was not reported. I mentioned that I had reported this to the Health and Safety officer three days ago and as nothing was done, I had used cello-tape to keep it in place. Unfortunately the tape came away. She gazed at me for a long time and asked many questions my qualifications and also if I would like to move to a different job. I said, ‘Yes, very much.’ She said, ‘Leave it with me,’ and left.

Image courtesy of and author nuchylee

I thought I was going to be the Health and Safety officer’s assistant. Two weeks later, I was summoned to her office. She offered me the job to be her PA. In my head, I was jumping for joy. The PA had a car accident so could not train me but she was at the other end of the phone. My job was managing the diary, arranging meetings and travel. I had my secretary to do any typing I needed. I even had a filing clerk to file for me.

After two years in the job, I was very confident and worked to the best of my ability. My manager was happy with my work but I felt I was not performing to the best of my ability because of my lack of knowledge; the job more or less, evolved.

I was aware there was funding for any training required by the employees. I researched extensively for courses presented by English speaking tutors. I found a PA course in London. I enjoyed the course which also included secretarial practice.

My manager was pleasantly surprised at my performance on my return but I was not happy with my secretary’s work. I have now enrolled her on the same course. When she returns, I am sure we will be the perfect team.

To find out more about PA Courses in London

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Managing relationships are key skills for PAs

This is a skill that is relevant to any office professional and to a wide range of careers outside of the office. However, it is particularly challenging for a PA. Nevertheless, many of the points made here may prove to be relevant to a diverse array of job types. However, what makes this aspect of job skills so important to a PA? 

Acting as a point of contact

Personal Assistants are often the point of contact for your manager, team, department and even the company. This means that you need to be able to build relationships with a wide range of people. These people may vary in seniority, the nature of their working relationship with you and their character. This means that we need to adapt and use a range of skills to build working relationships with these people.

It is not good if a PA and their manager is if the PA fails to build relationships and has a bad image, as it reflects on all of the people connected to the PA. Therefore, careful attention to building relationship is key for your professional image and that of your manager or department.


PAs often have to organise or carry out a task for their team or boss. This may mean that they do not necessarily have the time or technical knowledge to deliver the task. This means that the PA will need to delegate or ask for assistance. In this case, a good knowledge of your colleague’s skills and also a good working relationship in order to get assistance from your colleagues. This building of relationships ensures that you can deliver your tasks through delegating and teamwork.

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Acting as a point of knowledge

Often your boss will delegate the HR function of his job or other administrative tasks. This will mean that you are expected to be a point of knowledge. This means that you will need to develop knowledge, but also build relationships with contacts that can provide you with advice and support when you are facing more challenging queries.

Junior staff

PAs often have some responsibility for guiding members of the administrative tasks. This will mean that you need to develop a relationship with these members of staff, so that you can motivate them and drive them to progress in their careers. This is a very different type of work interaction for a PA.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Career Case Study: How I decided to train and become a PA and Bookkeeper

I have been working in sales since I left college ten years ago. After college, I started as a receptionist for a local company in my town. It was a small company where everyone was very friendly and the boss was very patient and approachable. I did not feel as the new comer as my colleagues included me in everything. 

Working as an Office Junior

After six months I was promoted to Office Junior where I was given more responsibility. I was now in Sales where I had to input information into the spreadsheet and dealing with all the paperwork to customers and suppliers and other ad hoc admin jobs. When I was on reception, the boss had given me some minor tasks and he noticed that I was quite accurate with figures and also inputting info into the system; hence the promotion at this early stage. Needless to say, there was a nice pay increase to match the job.

Image courtesy of and author ponsuwan

As with any small company, you tend to do much more than in your job description; that is you tend to ‘muck in.’ I would take orders and complaints over the telephone. I was also working closely with Sales and Accounts while liaising constantly with suppliers and customers who I got to know very well. Suppliers and customers would sometimes want to deal with only me. As would be expected, colleagues would come to me if they needed information. I became the ‘holder of knowledge within the company.’

Because I had good relations with the customer, I was often asked to give a feedback to the managers. I was given a portfolio of customers which increased over the years. I now had to attend meetings with the managers.

Maternity Leave

At this time I fell pregnant with twins. I did not feel that I would need any extra time other than the usual maternity leave as I had full support of my parents. My mum did not work as my dad had a good job. My boss thought otherwise. My partner felt trapped and we split up. The twins were a handful to leave with my mum and she was finding it quite tiring. My boss suggested that I work part-time with flexible hours which I did. This was a much better solution for all of us and worked out quite well. I did not miss much with the twins as I took them to the playgroup and school. Money was tight but not too bad as my parents assisted greatly.

I began to notice that some of the full time staff were becoming part time workers. The credit crunch did affect the company badly as it forced the company to wind down. The boss was very drawn and he cried when he broke the news to us.

Image courtesy of and author stockimage

I had to take stock of my life. I had no qualifications just experience and a good recommendation from my boss. My dad encouraged me to take time off and get the necessary qualifications before I look for a job as he will see to all my expenses. To contribute, I moved back into my parents’ home and rented my flat.

Retraining to get a better job

The job market showed quite a lot of vacancies for PAs and accounts. I thought I will open my options by enrolling for a PA course which is entirely new to me. I also took a book keeping course which endorsed my experience. They were short intensive courses which I , believe it or not, enjoyed very much. I passed with flying colours and after one month and a number of interviews, I found that job. I am back in my flat.

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