Personal Assistant Job Description: Skills, Salary and Qualifications

Many people, including solopreneurs, small start-up firms, medium-sized enterprises and CEOs from Fortune 500 corporations, employ personal assistants. They play an essential role in their personal and professional lives by easing their workload and ensuring their day goes as smoothly as possible.  

Depending on the industry you’re involved in, the personal assistant job description varies heavily. Nevertheless, regardless of the industry, a personal assistant is expected to be very adaptable and capable of handling all the diverse tasks that come their way.

In this personal assistant job description guide you can learn more about what a personal assistant does, their roles and responsibilities, the required skills, qualifications, and salary and expectations.

What is a personal assistant?

Personal assistants work closely with celebrities, managers, executives, and businesses to provide one-on-one support. They typically offer help with administrative and personal tasks like travel planning, diary management, email management, taking minutes, maintaining office filing systems and corresponding with people on behalf of their employers. 

They act as the executive’s first point of contact and are responsible for ensuring that their employer’s day runs as smoothly as possible. Personal assistants effectively manage their employer’s clients and often respond to messages, manage follow-up calls, and organise meetings and other appointments for them. At times, they may also be required to organise internal or personal events for their employers. 

A personal assistant needs to have an in-depth understanding of the employer’s job role and the company. Furthermore, they also need to be intuitive and know how their employer thinks and makes decisions to manage things efficiently on their behalf.

Personal assistants must have excellent interpersonal skills and know how to organise and prioritise their tasks.

The primary aspect of a personal assistant’s job description is to free up their employer’s time from administrative tasks so they have time for other critical strategic duties that can’t be performed by anyone else.

Executives and managers often rely heavily on their personal assistants, trusting that tasks will be handled efficiently without any micromanagement. Therefore, personal assistants need to be natural problem solvers with high emotional intelligence to keep up with their duties and responsibilities. 

Difference between Executive, Administrative, and Personal Assistant

Executive, Administrative, and Personal Assistant job descriptions are quite similar in terms of the skills required to be successful, like excellent organisational skills, interpersonal skills, and basic knowledge of software applications that their executive or companies utilise. Their primary responsibility is to save time for the person or team they’re working for by taking on tasks that can free up time for them to do other vital tasks. 

There is a lot of confusion surrounding executive, administrative, and personal assistant roles. Let’s understand how these job roles differ from each other.  

Traditionally, a personal assistant usually worked for individuals like celebrities, athletes, lower-level managers and corporate employees. Their primary job role was to take care of their employer’s corporate and personal needs.

On the other hand, an executive assistant mainly worked with c-suite executives like company directors, CEOs, and other senior-level staff. Their job role involves more serious responsibilities as their actions directly affect the executive’s work, and their actions affect the company as a whole. 

However, these days the executive and personal assistant job titles are often used interchangeably since their job roles can be extremely similar. 

What makes an administrative assistant different from an executive and personal assistant? 

The main difference between them is the degree of responsibilities and the people they work with. Administrative assistants are typically responsible for managing the office and basic admin tasks. They handle the company’s managerial and organisational duties for the entire workplace. More often than not, they are supervised by an office manager.

An administrative assistant’s duties and responsibilities may include:

  • preparing for meetings,
  • organising their employer’s or the team’s calendar and travel,
  • data entry and reporting,
  • organising and managing office paperwork,
  • drafting and proofreading, and
  • creating and improving the company’s operational procedures. 

An administrative assistant’s role is generally more routine and focuses primarily on operational and admin tasks delegated to them by their supervisors. On the other hand, the duties of executive and personal assistants are more complex than administrative assistants, and they receive little guidance on how they should complete their tasks. 

Executive and personal assistants work closely with senior executives and report to them directly. They are trusted to manage things that are more sensitive and private in nature. Therefore, their job role involves a significant level of confidentiality and responsibility. 

The job description of an executive assistant may include:

  • overseeing critical tasks and projects, 
  • anticipating the needs of their executives and ensuring they are prepared for anything, 
  • resolving issues before they reach the executive’s desk, 
  • organising internal and external office events, 
  • creating presentations and reports, 
  • corresponding with clients on behalf of their executives, 
  • arranging their travel, and 
  • doing research.

Personal assistant job description

A personal assistant tends to work alongside an individual to offer support with the day-to-day activities of their personal and professional lives. The personal assistant job description is often wide-ranging; therefore, they are expected to have a wide range of skills and the ability to multitask efficiently. 

As a personal assistant, it may often feel like no two days are the same. From managing their employer’s calendar to keeping track of special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries and sending gifts on behalf of their employer, personal assistants have a range of things they manage. They may also be expected to answer phone calls, take notes, and organise private and corporate events on behalf of their employer. 

The duties and responsibilities of a personal assistant depend heavily on the industry or sector they choose to work in. From charities to celebrities and start-up firms to executives in multinational corporations, the personal assistant job description varies depending on your chosen field. Furthermore, a personal assistant has huge scope to move up the corporate ladder and become an executive assistant. 

Personal assistant duties and responsibilities

While the roles and responsibilities of a personal assistant depend heavily on the sector they’re in, here is a list of tasks that a personal assistant job description typically includes:

  • Preparing communications on the employer’s behalf — drafting, formatting, and proofreading documents, briefs, reports, and presentations
  • Maintaining records, databases, and filing systems
  • Acting as the first point of contact for their employers
  • Screening and answering phone calls, memos, emails, and managing other channels
  • Managing their employer’s travel arrangements, accommodation, and itineraries
  • Ensuring their employer has the right brief for their meetings, presentations, or press conferences
  • Occasionally accompanying their employers on business trips to take minutes and participate in important meetings on their behalf or provide overall assistance during presentations 
  • Collating and filing their employer’s business, personal, and travel expenses
  • Scheduling and rescheduling appointments, managing and organising diaries, following up with clients, maintaining the events calendar, and sharing reminders before events
  • Taking notes, writing minutes as well as copying, scanning, and faxing important documents
  • Conducting research on any topic that their employer may require 
  • Reminding their employer of important tasks and deadlines
  • Organising events and business conferences 
  • Implementing, maintaining, and optimising operational procedures and administrative systems
  • Managing different ad hoc tasks to support their employer 

Personal assistant qualifications

Companies and managers have their own expectations of the qualifications they expect their personal assistants to have; however, you don’t need formal degrees to become a successful personal assistant. Proficiency in Microsoft Office or G-suite and excellent system skills are two qualifications that most businesses look for when hiring personal assistants. 

Other than that, there are a handful of skills that will help you stand out in the eyes of your employer and become a successful personal assistant. We’ll discuss these skills later in the blog.

How much do personal assistants make?

The base salary for personal assistants is around $100k – $130k per year in New York and £45k – £70k per year in the UK. The amount varies depending on the industry.

Key skills required to become a Personal Assistant

  1. Strong communication skills

Personal assistants are constantly expected to communicate with their employer’s clients, set up meetings and appointments, and manage personal and professional tasks for their employer. They’re expected to handle critical situations efficiently, have the confidence to communicate their thoughts in stressful scenarios, and adapt their employer’s communication style while corresponding with people on their behalf.

They may also be expected to write emails, draft paperwork, and create memos for their employers. Therefore, personal assistants also need to have the skill to clearly articulate their thoughts on paper. 

They often serve as the middleman between their executive and other employees, stakeholders, and sometimes even friends and family. Therefore, they should understand what tone of voice is appropriate for different scenarios — like corresponding in a friendly manner while talking to their employer’s personal contacts and maintaining a professional undertone while drafting paperwork. 

  1. Working under pressure

Personal assistants have to juggle a plethora of different tasks and deal with many people throughout the day. A successful personal assistant must be able to stay calm and collected under pressure. They should have the ability to think on their feet and even manage difficult situations that may extensively test their patience. 

A personal assistant’s job is fast-paced and chaotic, and it doesn’t take much for a day to become highly stressful. Therefore, personal assistants should have the ability to organise their day, prioritise tasks, and be able to accommodate new and urgent tasks by efficiently shifting priorities. 

A capable personal assistant should be able to manage their tasks even during their employer’s absence. They should require minimal guidance and should have the confidence to delegate upwards to their employer’s supervisors to make their executive’s life easier. 

  1. Calendar Management skills

A major part of a personal assistant’s job description includes managing their employer’s calendars and setting up appointments for them. This includes corresponding with people via email, calling up clients to set up or reschedule meetings, and managing their appointments.

Therefore, it’s critical for personal assistants to be extremely organised and effectively stay on top of several changing tasks throughout the day.

  1. Digital marketing skills

Personal assistants may be expected to handle simple digital marketing and social media support tasks. This may include sharing their employer’s latest video on their YouTube channel, interacting with their audience and flagging comments for them to take a look at, and extracting data for analytics.

While digital marketing is not a skill required for personal assistants, it’s definitely one of the skills that are invaluable today. Therefore, if you have knowledge of things like search engine optimisation or Google Analytics, highlight them in your resume, as they’re skills that will make you stand out from your competitors. 

  1. Research skills

A personal assistant should have excellent research skills, especially if their employer is not particularly tech-savvy. They should have the basic ability to browse the internet for information, facts, and figures to find data their employer is seeking or cross-referencing for accuracy. 

Personal assistants are expected to manage and source relevant resources and conduct in-depth research to be well-informed about different topics depending on the needs of their employer. They should stay up-to-date with the latest news and technologies in their employer’s field of interest.

  1. Strategic planning

Personal assistants manage their employer’s calendar and are often expected to schedule meetings and organise personal and corporate events. Therefore, personal assistants need to be strategic planners and ensure that they take note of all the different aspects of a project or task. 

From the fire safety drill to ensuring there aren’t any operational inefficiencies, personal assistants need to plan everything efficiently. They need to manage not only their executive’s time but also take care of the schedule of other employees depending on the event or task at hand. 

Final Thoughts

Personal assistants take over several tasks and responsibilities that may be beyond the scope of their standard job description, but that’s what makes them a critical aspect of their executive’s success. They are essentially jacks-of-all-trades and manage all their roles and responsibilities efficiently. 

If you’re looking for a new job, Joss Search can help you find personal or executive assistant jobs in top equity and alternative investment firms. 

You can take a look at our live vacancies or chat with our friendly consultants about your upcoming career steps. We’re waiting to help on 020 3096 7050 and hello@josssearch.com.

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