Over the last decade or so, PA jobs have changed almost beyond recognition. Just 15 years ago, personal assistants had a very defined function—providing secretarial support to an executive or director, while organising key elements of their day. Today, many PA jobs in London have a much wider and more diverse set of requirements. At our London-based PA recruitment agency, we’ve seen an evolution in the skills and abilities required from candidates. Let’s take a look at what’s changed…
The traditional PA role
Traditional PAs took a 1:1 approach, taking dictation and typing correspondence for their direct superior. The PA would also manage their superior’s diary and handle confidential matters on their behalf. In the past, this could be an arduous task. Before email and the cloud, PAs spent a disproportionate amount of time photocopying, faxing, telephoning, and hand-writing in an actual diary. Papers were physically filed in binders, while letters were typed on an electric typewriter.
Today, electronic calendars and the cloud have made coordinating schedules a breeze. Instant messaging makes light work of communication with other offices and workplaces around the world, while emails have eliminated the need for snail mail and faxes. Electronic filing has eradicated the need for hours spent amongst the binders.
Although our recruitment agency in London still sees some PA jobs in London centred around basic office skills, the latest technology and changing working environments mean that many PA roles are unrecognisable from those at the turn of the millennium.
The contemporary PA
Now, PA jobs in London are extremely different and varied. Today’s PAs are more like a support manager, serving several directors or managers plus their team. The role involves maintaining and screening email inboxes, managing multiple calendars, and organising the team’s travel arrangements around the world.
Event planning is also frequently a part of the modern PA role, from sourcing locations and entertainment to catering and suppliers. PAs frequently manage the team budgets as well as petty cash and expenses. They may be granted responsibility for confidential projects that have major impacts on the organisation.
In short, PAs are no longer a glorified secretary. Instead, they are required to have an understanding of business.
What are the key skills for today’s PAs?
At one time, those looking for permanent or temporary jobs as a PA were keen to sell their office skills. Companies were more interested in shorthand abilities and typing speed than anything else. Today, the key skills required by PAs are, in most cases, very different. While office skills are still important, the focus is on technology skills, planning abilities, and strategic experience. A background in business is much more desirable than a background in typing school.
However, every organisation is looking for something different from their PAs today, and we’re here to help. It’s our mission to help every company find its perfect employees and to help every PA find the right company to suit their individual talents. Contact us today to find out how we can help you find your next PA job, or that dream top London PA job.
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