Personal assistants are similar to executive assistants or office assistants in that all perform routine administrative-type tasks so that someone else does not have to. Duties are likely to include screening or answering phone calls, letters, and emails, managing schedules, and taking notes at meetings.
The difference with personal assistants is that they only assist a single person, and they may also help with personal tasks such as shopping or scheduling social engagements.
Some people delegate project work to their assistants or have their assistants stand in for them in their absence.
Job Requirements for Personal Assistants
While there is no set minimum requirement for personal assistants in terms of education, a background in business or administrative work helps. A second or third language can be important in some cases, too. In general, the skills you have are more important than your education. A discussion of some of these necessary skills may help you decide if this type of job is for you.
Here's a list of personal assistant skills for resumes, cover letters, job applications, and interviews. Required skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by job and by type of skill. Look through these lists and see if you have used these skills in previous jobs or have acquired them through training.
Make notes as to when and how you used or developed these skills. Then add them to your resume and cover letter or keep handy for filling in job applications. The people who screen applications will often be looking for key skills. Match up your skills with those posted as required for the job. Then be sure they are mentioned in your cover letter and listed on your resume.
You should also develop interview answers about how you used your skills in previous positions. Have an example of how you solved a problem in the workplace using one or more of these skills. Show how using your skills contributed to the success of a project.
Examples of Necessary Skills
This list is not exhaustive but includes some of the most important, sought-after skills for personal assistants.
Organization and Time Management
As a personal assistant, a large part of your job will be to keep someone else organized and on schedule. You must, therefore, be well-organized yourself. Fortunately, organizational skills can be learned. There are specific techniques you can adapt to make your use of time more efficient and to otherwise keep your life and that of your manager in order.
Written and Verbal Communication
You will have to understand and follow instructions, and you will have to transmit information clearly and honestly. Depending on the details of your position, you might also have to welcome clients, reply to correspondence, or create reports and presentations. All of these tasks require top-notch communication skills including speaking and writing, listening, and reading.
Accuracy and Attention to Detail
Attention to detail is a critical component of both staying organized and communicating well.
Vagueness or inaccuracy creates inefficiency at best, and could also cause serious mistakes or alienate your manager’s colleagues.
Knowledge of Relevant Software
Which software you’ll have to handle might vary, but will likely include word processing, spreadsheets, databases, calendars, desktop publishing, and PowerPoint, or something equivalent. Being able to provide at least minimal tech support is a plus. You may have to evaluate several different programs and apps to choose for yourself which provides the best tools to accomplish your manager’s objectives. Always, your job is to make your manager’s job easier and simpler, and that might require a lot of behind-the-scenes problem-solving.
Tact and Discretion
As a personal assistant, you will frequently be exposed to sensitive material, from trade secrets to highly personal information that you will need to keep confidential.
A related skill is being tactful, the ability to react gently or not at all to information that other people might find difficult or embarrassing. You must, in other words, be a safe person for your manager to be vulnerable around. After all, only you will know how much assistance they need.
Related: Best Resume Writing Services
These skills are often part of the job description for a personal assistant or are skills of added value. Your employer may need someone who can do these tasks for her.
- Event Planning
- Implementing Procedures
- Maintaining Schedules
- Office Management
- Project Management
- Taking Dictation
- Taking Messages
- Taking Notes
- Travel Arrangements
- Travel Planning
As a personal assistant, all aspects of communications are important for the job. Be ready to show your experience or training.
- Answer Phone
- Greeting Visitors
- Handling Inquiries
- Nonverbal Communication
- Screening Calls
- Verbal Communications
- Written Communications
Do you have experience or training for these tasks?
Are you able to use different platforms and devices and do basic troubleshooting?
- Computer (PC, Mac, tablet)
- Database Management
- Microsoft Office
- Presentation Preparation
- Word Processing
Personal Mastery Skills
These skills are often part of your personality. Show how you have used them and developed them.
- Positive Attitude
- Problem Solving
- Professional Demeanor
- Team Player
- Time Management
- Work Independently
If you haven't used these skills at a previous job, look at how you have developed them at volunteer or unpaid jobs or use them in your personal life. Do you use these skills as part of a faith community or for a student project at school? Have you developed skills as part of a sports team or individual sport? That experience can also be valuable and make you a better candidate for the position.
In the following sample resume designed for a Personal Assistant, take note of how several of the skills mentioned above are incorporated into the text, particularly the "core qualifications."
Sample Personal Assistant Resume
This is an example of a resume for a personal assistant position. Download the resume template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Sample Personal Assistant Resume (Text Version)
999 Main Street
New York 10003
Detail-oriented and highly organized personal assistant well-versed in providing seamless support to C-level executives, as well as independently performing administrative, appointment and travel scheduling, shopping, and event planning responsibilities with effortless efficiency seeks a personal assistant position with a top firm.
- Able to process sensitive data and handle all correspondence and dictation with uncompromised integrity and confidentiality.
- I can easily build rapport with clients, vendors, and project stakeholders both in person and in writing.
- Able to leverage education in accounting to accurately balance books and perform budgeting and purchasing functions.
- Always maintains a positive and consummately professional demeanor, with the ability to instill the trust and engagement of others.
GLENGARRY INCORPORATED, Columbia, MO
Personal Assistant to the President, September 2016-Present
Provide comprehensive administrative and personal support to the founder of boutique financial advising firm, with a scope of responsibility that includes dictation, correspondence, office management, vendor relations, appointment scheduling, travel coordination, and event-planning functions.
- Planned all details for highly successful client relations events including golf and tennis resort weekends, seminars on financial planning, and stockholder banquets.
- Sourced and secured cost-effective travel and entertainment vendors reducing travel expenditures by 15%.
- Utilized Adobe Creative Suite to create visually engaging new marketing brochures and a monthly newsletter.
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Minor: Accounting) 2016; GPA 3.9
University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Dean’s List; Graduated Summa cum Laude
Technical Proficiencies: Microsoft Office Suite, QuickBooks, and Adobe Creative Suite. Fluent in Spanish.