The UK's official graduate careers website

Not signed up?

 
 

Personal assistant: Job description

A personal assistant (PA), sometimes called an executive secretary or personal/private secretary, works closely with senior managerial or directorial staff to provide administrative support, usually on a one-to-one basis. PAs help managers to make the best use of their time by dealing with secretarial and administrative tasks.

PAs need extensive knowledge of the organisation in which they work. They need to know who key personnel are (both external and internal) and understand the organisation's aims and objectives.

Managers often rely heavily on their PA, trusting that work will be handled efficiently in their absence. Discretion and confidentiality are therefore essential attributes for a successful PA.

Typical work activities

Personal assistants (PAs) often act as the manager's first point of contact with people from both inside and outside the organisation. Tasks are likely to include:

  • devising and maintaining office systems, including data management and filing;
  • arranging travel, visas and accommodation and, occasionally, travelling with the manager to take notes or dictation at meetings or to provide general assistance during presentations;
  • screening phone calls, enquiries and requests, and handling them when appropriate;
  • meeting and greeting visitors at all levels of seniority;
  • organising and maintaining diaries and making appointments;
  • dealing with incoming email, faxes and post, often corresponding on behalf of the manager;
  • taking dictation and minutes;
  • carrying out background research and presenting findings;
  • producing documents, briefing papers, reports and presentations;
  • organising and attending meetings and ensuring the manager is well prepared for meetings;
  • liaising with clients, suppliers and other staff.

In addition to supporting managers, their team and departments, many PAs also have their own personal workload and responsibilities. The scope of the PA's role can be extensive and additional duties may include:

  • carrying out specific projects and research;
  • responsibility for accounts and budgets;
  • taking on some of the manager's responsibilities and working more closely with management; 
  • deputising for the manager, making decisions and delegating work to others in the manager's absence;
  • being involved in decision-making processes.

Some PAs do all the secretarial work themselves, while others take responsibility for recruiting and training junior staff and delegate some of the less demanding and confidential work to them.

Have you considered these other jobs?

 
 
AGCAS
Written by AGCAS editors
Date: 
July 2012
 
 

Spotlight on...

Sponsored links

 
 
 

This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.