How to become a personal assistant in 2024
Personal assistants are the backbone of most organizations. Taking on a variety of tasks and responsibilities that support managerial staff, they keep everything ticking along smoothly.
These duties range from making travel arrangements to preparing reports and maintaining important databases. If you’re wondering just how to become a personal assistant, this guide will take you through everything you need to know.
What do personal assistants do?
While executive assistants tend to report to executives and senior managers, personal assistants usually serve a mid or senior manager. There are many personal assistant job duties that are common across all industries. However, companies in some industries or sectors will require specific personal assistant skills and knowledge, and may also be looking for a personal assistant to take on some additional responsibilities.
For example, some managers may need personal assistants to travel with them on business trips, or, if they work with international clients, will need a personal assistant who can accommodate unusual business hours to account for time differences.
Here’s a list of the most common personal assistant duties and responsibilities:
- Are the first point of contact between their manager and clients via phone calls and emails
- Diary management
- Scheduling meetings, appointments, and events
- Taking meeting minutes
- Making travel, transport, and accommodation arrangements
- Transcribing dictation
- Compiling reports, presentations, and briefs
- Maintaining databases, office systems, and filing systems
- Collating and filing their manager’s business expenses and travel expenses
- Conducting research on behalf of their manager
How to become a personal assistant: Training, skills, and tips
If you’re asking yourself, “What do I need to become a personal assistant?”, we’ve got the answers for you. Here, we’ll go through the training requirements and skills you’ll need, as well as tips to help you succeed in any personal assistant role.
Training to become a personal assistant
The good news is that, generally, when it comes to what to study to become a personal assistant, no specific training courses, academic qualifications, or certifications are necessary.
Some companies, however, will require you to have graduated high school, while others will prefer that you have a college degree (in any subject). Additionally, a degree or diploma in business administration or a technology-related field can be very advantageous when applying for personal assistant roles.
Having previous work experience in office administration or experience as an office clerk is also a huge benefit during your search for a personal assistant role. If you don’t have experience, it’s worth completing a secretarial course or diploma to gain the necessary training experience.
Personal assistant skills
Although there are no formal qualifications necessary, you will need to possess certain skills in order to become a successful personal assistant.
1. Communication skills
Communication skills are paramount for any personal assistant role. Personal assistants are responsible for organizing the day-to-day life of their managers, but to do this, they’ll need to be effective in creating partnerships with multiple people across several departments, as well as with external clients.
They’ll also need to be adept at relaying often complex and time-sensitive information to managers and other relevant personnel, as well as being able to absorb and disseminate information.
2. Interpersonal skills
Personal assistants need to be skilled in interacting with a range of different people such as the office manager, executive secretaries, and other personal secretaries. From making travel arrangements and managing diaries, interpersonal skills are crucial in helping to support their managers with everything they need to be effective.
3. Time management skills
Personal assistants juggle many plates for their managers, and knowing how to organize and manage their time is a key quality of any effective personal assistant. Ultimately, they’re responsible for both managing their own time and their managers’ time.
4. Strong organizational skills
Organizational skills are without a doubt one of the most important skills for a personal assistant to have. Since they’re so organized, they’re able to adapt to shifting and competing priorities with ease, and maintaining databases, filing systems, and emails comes second nature to them.
5. Ability to multitask
You can’t become a personal assistant without knowing how to multitask. Between administrative support, scheduling, and answering endless emails and phone calls, the ability to effectively multitask amidst so many competing priorities is a must-have skill on any personal assistant resume.
6. Attention to detail
Personal assistants are known for being scrupulous. After all, it’s their job to know the ins and outs of their manager, company, and any relevant external organizations.
How to get a job as a personal assistant: 3 Tips
If you already have these personal assistant skills under your belt, it’s worth putting in the effort to refine them and learn new ones. Plus, conducting some research into the industry you’re interested in will help you secure your dream job in a personal assistant role.
1. Brush up on your existing skills
If you want to stand out from the crowd, it’s a good idea to brush up on any skills that you may not have updated in a while. For example, there may be some new features with the Microsoft Office suite (Excel, Word, and PowerPoint) that you could learn to master and bolster your resume. If you're between jobs, now is a great time to take a course in administrative management or, if it's possible, do a short apprenticeship or gain experience in a part-time administrative role.
2. Learn more about the industry you want to work in
Whether you want to be a celebrity personal assistant, go into event planning, or move into some other specific work environment, it's time to get stuck into some research.
As we mentioned above, while there are standard personal assistant skills and qualities, certain industries will require more specific, specialized skills, such as social media skills, administration skills, or experience managing budgets. The more you can show how much you know about the industry or type of company you want to work for, the better your chances of landing a personal assistant role.
3. Do some market research
Not every personal assistant role will be the right fit for you. Doing some market research via job boards and vacancies will help you work out which industries you'd like to work in, but it'll also help you ascertain the average salary, what type of career paths and career progression personal assistants usually enjoy, and how best to structure your resume and cover letter for potential roles.