What Does a Personal Assistant Do? (And Doesn’t Do)

Published on September 7, 2017

What does a personal assistant do? It’s a question we are often asked.  Personal assistants are now found in all walks of lives. From domestic private homes, through to luxury private jets and yachts, no longer is the personal assistant role simply office based working in the corporate world.  Yet still, the CEOs, entrepreneurs, families and individuals looking to hire a PA, get confused with what a personal assistant can actually do for them (and the things they can’t).

Here is our guide to understanding the great range of tasks a personal assistant can do and those tasks that you should certainly not ask of them.

Tasks a Personal Assistant Can Do

We’ve broken the tasks into three categories – easy, challenging and complicated.  Of course, this isn’t an exhausted list, there are many more duties a PA will be able to do.

Easy:

  1. Manage your personal diary with appointments, meetings, adjusting the schedule when changes are made, and updating the cloud or work flow system in place.
  2. Writing and drafting emails on your behalf. Screening and prioritising emails that need urgent attention.
  3. Handle bills, paying bills and liaising with the accountant/book keeper.
  4. Filing paperwork and ensuring that deadlines and any bill submissions are met in a timely fashion.
  5. Buying and sending gifts.
  6. Managing the phone and incoming calls.
  7. Errands (such as dry cleaning, getting coffee, taking the dog to the vet).
  8. Take notes during a meeting.

Challenging:

  1. Managing staff pay roll in the property or company.
  2. Dealing with other PA or support staff either in the same or different country.
  3. Reviewing staff contracts.
  4. Interviewing new staff.
  5. Firing staff.
  6. Research for new projects or activities that might be needed.
  7. Travelling with the principal.
  8. Inventory and purchasing.

Complicated:

  1. Updating websites and high level IT support.
  2. Managing the security systems in place in the property.
  3. Provide detailed support and last minute adjustments to schedule and routine changes.

Tasks a Personal Assistant Doesn’t Do

Every PA is different and will approach their duties according to local customs and laws, however, these are a few tasks that generally a personal assistant shouldn’t be asked to do.

  1. Deep cleaning – A PA is more than happy to do a quick tidy up or some household chores if the housekeeper is absent and there are guests arriving, however, as a general rule, your PA is not a housekeeper and should not be treated as one.  As a one-off, they might be willing to step in, but don’t ask them to scrub the toilet (they’re unlikely to stick around if you do!)
  2. Cooking – Again, unless otherwise discussed, your PA is not your personal chef.  They are more than willing to order and collect food but will be unlikely to agree to slave away in the kitchen preparing a five-course meal for you and your guests.
  3. Anything illegal – It goes without saying, but your PA shouldn’t be asked to do anything illegal.  Regardless whether you wish to do the activity, don’t involve them in something that is not lawful of the land.  You’ll be putting them in a very difficult position.

A personal assistant is an incredible asset to any CEO, entrepreneur, individual or busy family.  Within reason, they can do almost anything to help support both your personal and business life.  We would love to help you find your new or next personal assistant.  Why not drop us a line and we can discuss your detailed requirements.  

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