How to Become a Personal Assistant in Australia
A personal assistant is the manager's right hand. They take care of any scheduling that needs to be done and make sure that all records are up to date. They are there to set daily reminders about important meetings that might come up, as well as take notes in order to keep record of everything for future reference. Personal assistants are professionals at time management and task management, tackling multiple issues at once. They're efficient communicators. Most often, they take care of daily correspondence via e-mail, phone or in-person.
If there's a need to go on a business trip, personal assistants are the ones that make it happen. They book the tickets, push back flight is that is needed, organise the transportation to and from the airport, as well as make accommodation arrangements. In short, these are individuals that make everything run smoothly so that managers are relieved of a bit of stress.
They sometimes even help their bosses handle their personal affairs, with birthday or anniversary reminders or by running errands. They are sometimes also in charge of helping keep finances on track, doing the operational tasks for the manager.
Are you an extremely organised individual? Do you take pride in your communication skills? Would you love to have the liberty of planning someone's day-to-day? If so, the personal assistant career just might be the right choice for you! Here's how you can make it happen.
Step 1: Get a Vocational Qualification
There's no real formal education requirement for becoming a personal assistant. Most managers are looking for someone with a specific personality and skill-set. That being said, it doesn't hurt to be a bit business-savvy. It could help you advance your career if you choose that path later on, or better understand the business side of things now. A good boss appreciates employees who go all out, so getting a business administration certification would be a great step to take. And that's both long-term and short-term.
Step 2: Gather Some Experience
The best way to showcase that you're the right person for the job is to show that you've done it in the past. While that might be tricky, you still have some viable options. You could showcase your organisation and management skills through showing off some volunteer projects you've done. Volunteering tends to be one of the best ways of gathering experience, as you're allowed to try your hand at different things. If you're not up for volunteering, try your hand at any entry-level job with management skill requirements. This way, you can show your future managers you're more than up to the task.
Step 3: Buff Up Your Skills
There are different skills a personal assistant needs to excel at, with the three main ones being organisation, communication and computer-related skills. The first two are something you continuously work on, either through the previous two steps or through everyday activities. But, getting your computer skills to be top notch needs some extra work. In order to be efficient at your job, you will need to be an excellent typer, which includes both spelling and speed. Then, your scheduling skills need to be on the next level, so scheduling and email tricks are a must. It would also help if you're good at making presentations and visual aids. The Microsoft Office package is a great place to start, while productivity apps might be the game changer (just something to keep in mind).
Step 4: Stay On Top of Things
Once you get the position of a personal assistant, don't get lulled by the everyday mist of tasks. Be proactive and learn as much as possible. Study the present way things are done and look into how you can make things more efficient. Look into getting additional formal training, attend conferences and networking events. At the end of the day don't forget that you're the glue that holds the ship together - the stronger you are, the stronger the ship.
What Does a Personal Assistant Do?
A personal assistant runs day-to-day operations, ensuring that everything is going according to plan. They schedule all meeting and ensure that time management needs are being met. They are most often the person between the manager and whoever wants to speak or meet with them. This means that they handle all correspondence and sometimes decide who takes priority. Personal assistants are also the ones that work on spreadsheets, presentations and record-keeping. Anything and everything operational falls right under their jurisdiction, meaning their tasks are very varied. One day they could be planning and organising business trip activities, the other they could be working on background research their manager needs. They prepare documents, set reminders and mostly stay on top of everything.
- Creating daily schedules and managing day-to-day tasks
- Making travel arrangements
- Organising travel activities
- Handling correspondence, in all shapes and forms
- Screening phone calls and emails
- Being present at meetings and taking notes
- Generating necessary documents, presentations or other visual aids
- Conducting background research when needed
- Creating a data management and filing system in the office
- Taking on a part of the manager's responsibilities should the need arise
Skills for Success
A personal assistant needs to have a broad set of skills. They need to be excellent communicators, in both oral and written correspondence. In addition, they need to have great organisational and management abilities, in order to handle all scheduling issues. They should be flexible and know how to come up with solutions on the spot. They should also be exceptional at using technology and be able to provide support to their managers in way of research or data management.
- Communication and problem-solving skills
- Flexibility and creativity
- Scheduling and management skills
- People-oriented approach and excellent correspondence
- Teamwork and collaboration