Personal assistant

Personal assistant

A personal assistant, or personal aide, is someone who assists in daily personal tasks.

For example, a businessman or businesswoman may have a personal assistant to help with correspondence and run errands. The title of a business personal assistant is often shortened as "PA". There are also personal assistants who work specifically for disabled people, and whose salaries are paid by social services. Families in which both parents work may also employ personal assistants, often referred to as household managers. The role of a personal assistant can be very varied.


The role of a business PA has expanded as the business environment has required more responsibilities. Today, a PA may be responsible for screening incoming calls, checking emails, reviewing documentation, sending mail, doing research, scheduling reservations, booking meetings, etc. The term is often used to describe roles which would previously have been referred to as secretary. In today's world, busy or successful people they often choose to use a personal concierge service over a PA, hence eliminating the need to employ unnecessary staff.

Business PA job duties can range from menial tasks such as picking up the dry cleaning to more important tasks such as attending contract negotiations, briefing journalists on which questions can and can not be asked during interviews, travelling etc. A PA is their employer's "go to" person. The position normally covers a variety of positions. They are receptionists, administrative assistants, runners, managers, publicists, agents etc. The job has a wide range of requirements and can often be extremely demanding as employers normally expect their assistants to be there whenever they need them. An older term for a PA was a "Girl Friday" or a "Man Friday".

To do their jobs well, all personal assistants must apply excellent organizational skills, tact, diplomacy, effective communication skills, maintain confidentiality in sensitive matters, and display excellent judgement. These are the same "soft" skills required for many other professional roles, such as middle management, public relations, and high-level administrative assistance. The best personal assistants have the ability to anticipate their employer's needs and take care of them before they are asked to do so.

The need for personal assistants

The more high-profile a person is, whether a celebrity, professional athlete, minister, politician, attorney or entertainment executive, the more necessary it is for him or her to be able to concentrate on performing the most important tasks of their career. The proper management of their lifestyle can favorably or adversely affect his or her success and career prosperity. The more efficiently and effectively the celebrity performs the important tasks involved in their work, the greater the benefit to career endeavors and any business enterprises he or she might own. He or she should be able to concentrate on those important tasks if relieved of some other duties involved in the job which, while still needing to be performed, can be done by somebody else on his or her behalf or under her or his supervision. In other words, the business person or celebrity needs assistance, and that can be provided by at least one Personal Assistant.

A personal assistant can help a disabled person in many ways. A personal assistant may for example read text in leaflets and notices for the visually impaired, type documents on the computer when a disabled person is not able to use their hands, and assist a wheelchair user into a bus. Our surrounding environment is often still built in such way that lots of things accessible to the rest of us would be inaccessible to a disabled person without the help of a personal assistant. The social aspect of the job is also important.

Other types of personal assistance

Personal assistants, or household managers, who are employed to help with the management of schedules and errands in families, in which both parents work, are in short supply.

People who cannot afford to hire their own personal assistant to run errands or answer phone calls full-time can hire a concierge company or a part-time assistant. Most companies offer secretarial personal assistance as well as basic assistant services like research, scheduling, travel arrangements, and more. Costs of a part-time employee can end up exceeding how much it would have cost to hire a full time employee. Other companies charge a flat monthly fee for personal assistant services, based upon the number of requests you think you will place each month. In addition to the personal assistant services that are provided with the membership, other incentives such as local discounts, concierge services, dining recommendations and overall knowledge and expertise may even outperform the skills of a regular personal assistant staff member.

Smaller companies, especially start-up and real estate development companies, may desire the services of a Personal Assistant to "manage" an individual executive or to assist in the office as the new company goes about setting up their new business. These Personal Assistants may develop great skills at the "birth" of a new company and have opportunities for advancement. Other Personal Assistants will have garnered incredible knowledge and experience if they choose to move into other positions.

Career development

Some business personal assistant jobs may "morph" into other positions within the organization. Some business PA's are asked to consider full-time positions elsewhere in the company depending on the level of ambition and education required/desired. Some employers will not see the potential for a Personal Assistant immediately and thus the Personal Assistant will remain in that position until other positions become available.

ee also

* Au Pair

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Look at other dictionaries:

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