Breaking Down the Personal Assistant Job Description
The role of a personal assistant is an alluring career path with exciting potential and one-of-a-kind experiences. While being a personal assistant is a dream job for many, it takes grit, resilience, and a unique personality match to find success in this role; and because this role is so personal, it is hard to define a personal assistant job description.
Success as a personal assistant can come through a myriad of factors. Every client is different, thus making every personal assistant role different with responsibilities curated to their unique needs. Although there is no one “right” way for how to be a personal assistant, there are common duties and many shared traits between the best of the best in this field.
Common Responsibilities of a Personal Assistant
A successful personal assistant will share all the responsibilities of their principal and act as their principal’s right hand in many matters. They must have a 24/7 mentality and have a “no task too small” attitude. The best personal assistants are always thinking 10 steps ahead, with a plan B, C, and D always on hand for when circumstances change.
A personal assistant job description will rarely be able to cover the breadth of tasks that a personal assistant does. A truly great personal assistant understands that their job does not fit within a box or standard job description- they truly are a catch-all. Usually, however, the personal assistant will internal facing and focused on managing the different aspects of their principal’s home and personal life.
Some common tasks of a personal assistant can include:
- Domestic errands, like getting groceries
- Event planning and management
- Coordinating travel plans
- Caring for or supervising children
- Liaising with different teams in the principal’s business or estate
- Driving the principal
- Caring for pets
- Taking notes during meetings
The Executive Assistant vs The Personal Assistant Job Description
Most of the time, the separation between work and life does not have a clearly defined line. In many personal assistant roles, you may find yourself doing tasks that are more commonly associated with an executive assistant role – so what does an executive assistant do?
Just like trying to define the duties of a personal assistant, the answer is not always clear. In most cases, an executive assistant is more strictly tied to the business ventures of their principal. An executive assistant likely manages schedules, books work trips, communicates amongst business teams, and aids the principal in all areas of their career. For some personal assistants, you may also serve as your principal’s executive assistant. Even if you don’t, you could find yourself working closely with your principal's executive assistant to bridge the gap between business and personal.
Characteristics of a Personal Assistant
The role of a personal assistant is a uniquely challenging and requires a refined skillset to meet the needs of this all encompassing job. Some key character traits of a strong personal assistant include:
Being flexible is critical to the day-to-day of this job. Your schedule is never set and you must be ready to pivot and take on a new challenge at a moment’s notice. Having a positive attitude and the ability to prioritize new tasks quickly will help you succeed as a personal assistant. You are there to personally assist your principal, and as life goes, some things may occur after hours, on weekends and beyond, so being reachable and always willing to help is the type of mindset a true great personal assistant contains.
As a personal assistant, you are “on” all the time. You share responsibility with your client and you will need to be ready to step in and assist whenever necessary. This could mean a weekend trip, late nights, early mornings, and full days of errands.
While this role cannot guarantee a work life balance like other jobs may be able to, the opportunity of this job can be extremely rewarding and worth the nonstop schedule.
One of the most integral traits of the best personal assistants is a selfless mentality. Those who are able to prioritize the needs of their principal and maintain a positive attitude even in the most stressful situations will find success as a personal assistant.
Success as a Personal Assistant
While the personal assistant job description may seem daunting, there are many amazing opportunities and relationships that can come from this line of work.
One of my favorite stories is about a candidate who came to me looking to transition into the private sector. He had an incredible personality but had never worked in this field before.
Shortly after meeting with him, a dream job came to us and I immediately thought of him. Even without the traditional experience, his stellar personality was a perfect match for our client and he got the job. Now , years later, he has climbed the ranks go Chief of Staff and I couldn’t be more proud of the match that we were able to make together.
Finding the Perfect Fit
Ultimately, the role of a personal assistant is about the person you are supporting. The most important factor of any personal assistant job is the connection you have with your principal. Success in this role comes from your relationship and your ability to work together.