6 qualities of a successful personal assistant in 2024
In the world of business, managers depend on personal assistants to support them in most areas of the business. Personal assistants have extremely valuable skill sets that include acting as an office manager and administrative assistant, as well as taking on facets of business administration.
So, what skills are necessary for a personal assistant role? What are the qualities of a good personal assistant?
6 Skills and qualities that make a successful personal assistant
Depending on the industry, different companies will be looking for varied personal assistant skills. However, there are some standard skills that will be included within most personal assistant job descriptions. Below are the six most common skills you’ll find on any personal assistant resume:
1. Communication skills
Personal assistant positions require communication skills to create partnerships, adapt to any situation, and to ensure that managers are informed of important information in a timely manner.
Personal assistants liaise with many stakeholders, and being able to disseminate and absorb communication and information is a necessity.
2. Interpersonal skills
From secretarial duties to learning about their manager’s personal life, personal assistants must be able to easily interact with a large range of people in order to support their manager in a range of situations.
3. Time management skills
The ability to organize and plan how to smartly divide time between specific activities is a key personal assistant skill. Personal assistants are not just responsible for their own time, but for managing the time of their senior managers to enable them to complete their business duties.
4. Strong organizational skills
Of course, organizational skills are a top priority for personal assistants. Organization is second nature to them, and they have a high level of adaptability to be able to adjust schedules according to shifting business priorities. They’ll also know how to organize the perfect filing systems, databases, and always have the right email template on hand.
5. Ability to multitask
The list of personal assistant duties can be endless. Not only do they provide administrative support, but they also act as a diary scheduler and memorizer, must answer phone calls as and when they come in, and deal with scheduling meetings -- often all at the same time.
Multitasking is a skill that all personal assistants must be able to master to deal with competing priorities and administrative tasks.
6. Attention to detail
Personal assistants are able to scrutinize and plan everything in minute detail. For example, when making travel arrangements, a personal assistant is able to plan business accommodation and transport while taking into account travel expense policies (see our sample company travel policy for employees), alternative routes -- even down to accommodating dietary requirements when making restaurant reservations.
How to be a great personal assistant
Personal assistants are often a manager’s main pillar of business support. They spin many plates and spin them well.
If you’re asking yourself, “how do I become a good personal assistant?”, the following tips will help you become not just a good personal assistant, but show you how to be a great personal assistant.
1. Prioritize well
As a personal assistant, your manager’s priorities are your priorities. Keeping them organized, informed, and on schedule is your main priority. Work out a system that works for you both to help you prioritize on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. For example, you can set aside time each day and week to go through their workload and schedule, and learn exactly what to move up your to-do list, and what to deprioritize.
2. Get to know your manager and the business inside out
Getting to know your manager’s personality and working style will benefit you greatly. If remembering details aren’t their strong point, make sure they’re fully briefed ahead of meetings and events. If they’re not adept at multitasking, hold their calls during time set aside to focus on core tasks.
Learning about the business’s objectives and goals will also help you glean a bigger picture of the importance of certain tasks, meetings, and duties on your checklist.
3. Be proactive
As the first point of contact for your manager, you can’t rely on them to provide you with information when people call or email you with questions. Aim to be as proactive as possible. If your company has just taken on a new client, learn as much about them as you can. If you’re expecting a rush of phone calls, prepare answers in advance.
4. Keep topping up your knowledge and skills
Like any other role, you should keep on top of the skills and knowledge you need to be able to do your job well. Always be proactive in learning new skills, or brushing up on the ones you’ve already acquired.
For example, if you don’t have a lot of event planning work experience, but you’ve been working with other departments to put events together, offer to take a more active role. Or, if your Microsoft Office skills (Powerpoint, Excel, etc) are rusty, take a refresher course to make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest features and functionality.