Ever thought about being a contract PA? A fixed term contract role could be a savvy career move if you’re looking to build up experience working as a PA for different managers and directors across multiple sectors.
What are the demands of the role and why might contract be a worthwhile option for your career? Gain an insight into a day in the life of a real-life contract PA working for a leading international investment bank.
Why was contracting the right move for you?
After leaving my last role, I realised that it might be difficult to get a permanent role in the current market. This seemed like a good opportunity to get into PA contracting as there were plenty of job options available to me. Contracting appealed to me because it is a really good way of seeing new ways of working and gaining experience of different working environments.
How did you start your business support career?
I started off in marketing and PR whilst I was living in France. It was when I moved to London eight years ago that I took my first role as a PA. I was tempted by the role because I could see similarities between the two careers – in sales and marketing, you are required to deal with internal clients, and it’s exactly the same when you’re a PA.
Whilst you’re focusing on impressing at interview, think about whether you’ll enjoy the job as depending on your boss and the company, the role can, at times, be quite demanding and unpredictable.
A good PA now not only needs to be extremely organised and pro-active, but also act as an ambassador with great diplomacy and communication abilities. There’s also room for creativity and learning because I find myself exposed to business projects that my director is involved in, so as his PA, my involvement comes part and parcel with this.
What are the demands of your current role?
I am currently on a maternity cover contract as the PA to the Head of Corporate Governance. As part of my role, I organise a number of high-level meetings and I liaise with people from a variety of business areas – such as the fixed income and legal departments – on a daily basis. I am also required to deal with a lot of confidential information, so I need to be discreet at all times. For this reason, it’s really important that you build a high level of trust between yourself and your boss.
What skills do you need to succeed as a PA?
PA jobs have changed so much in the last ten years – before you needed to be a good administrator and IT literate but that in itself is not enough nowadays. A good PA now not only needs to be extremely organised and pro-active, but also act as an ambassador with great diplomacy and communication abilities. Good networking and project management skills are also very important.
What advice would you give to professionals looking to start a PA career?
Know what your skills are and sell them. However, you also need to recognise that actual skills aren’t everything - your behaviour and how you come across are very important too. A good relationship with your boss is crucial so if you don’t like him or her at your initial interview, it probably won’t work in the long run. Whilst you’re focusing on impressing at interview, think about whether you’ll enjoy the job as depending on your boss and the company, the role can, at times, be quite demanding and unpredictable.