Tips on how to transition from a corporate PA to a Private PA

A Private PA typically works for one individual, be that a celebrity, high-net-worth individual (HNWI) or entrepreneur who needs assistance with a wide-range of tasks. Whilst many of the key skills required to undertake a Corporate PA or EA role are similar to those required in a Private PA role, there are also many tasks, duties and responsibilities involved in a Private PA role which go above and beyond what would be classed as your ‘normal’ PA or EA duties. In addition to the more traditional duties such as diary, inbox and travel management, a Private PA role may also require you to liaise with family members, book personal holidays or travel, be responsible for the individual's property or property portfolio, organise personal events and run errands, to name but a few.

If a Private PA role is something that really appeals to you, you may be unsure how best to go about making that transition from Corporate PA to Private PA. As such, in this blog we have put together some tips on how to go about landing your first Private PA role.

Work On Your CV

If you are currently working as a Corporate PA for one or more individual, or have done so for the majority of your career, then it may be that you have experience undertaking more personal duties in your roles or are performing private duties for your boss within your current position. This can be anything from booking a personal holiday or party for your boss and their family, or assisting with arranging childcare, tutoring, birthday parties, etc. for their children or extended family. If any of your current or previous roles have included more personal support, and relate to your boss's private life, then this is classed as relevant experience and, as such, you should highlight this on your CV.

It may also be worth considering how to structure your CV. For example, if you have experience of business and personal support within a corporate setting, then why not split your role(s) into two separate sections with the headings of ‘Business Support’ and ‘Private' or 'Personal Support’. This will enable you to demonstrate the duties you have undertaken, and the skills required, within both aspects of your position and how you have excelled at both the business and private duties within your role(s).

Demonstrate Flexibility

Corporate and Private PA roles can differ insofar as the level of flexibility required in each. Although you may be required to work outside of hours every now and again to meet the needs of the business within a Corporate PA role, most Private PA roles will demand a higher level of flexibility as a result of the unique requirements of whomever it is you are supporting. For example, a Private PA role may require you to support a HNWI who travels frequently across multiple time zones and this will involve you being contactable during your boss’s working hours, whenever they might be. One week you might have to work alongside of them on New York time, and the next they might be somewhere totally different with a completely different time zone. It is therefore extremely important that you can get across the fact that you are flexible with regards to working hours, out of hours contact and the possibility of travelling alongside your boss, if and when required.

In addition to this, with regards to your job role, there will be times within a Private PA role where you are asked to do last-minute odd jobs or are given unusual requests, such as buying a specific gift for a family member or friend, picking up an item of clothing for your boss or booking a venue for their child’s birthday party. As such, flexibility and the ability to think on your feet and be a decision maker, even in the most unusual of situations, are key skills required in this line of work. With this in mind, it is important that when applying and interviewing for Private PA roles, or working alongside a recruiter to find a Private PA role, you are able to give examples and demonstrate times where you have been flexible and gone the extra mile in your current and previous roles.

Trustworthiness and Discretion

Discretion and trustworthiness are probably the two most vital skills that someone would look for in a Private PA. As a Private PA you’ll most likely be working alongside HNWI’s or entrepreneurs on private matters that could be extremely damaging if they were to fall into the wrong hands or to be released to the public. Therefore, it is vital that you work discretely and with strict confidentiality at all times. Make sure you can give examples of where you have dealt with confidential information or handled tasks which require the utmost discretion, so that you can demonstrate to a potential employer that you are someone who can be trusted to work professionally at all times.

Widen Your Search

As many Private PA roles support high profile individuals, it is rare that you would find job adverts for Private PA positions on your standard job boards, such as Indeed or Totaljobs. Typically, people tend to land Private PA roles through direct referrals, word of mouth or by working alongside a specialist recruiter. It is therefore important that you widen your search when looking for a Private PA role; we recommend reading local magazines and newspapers in areas where HNWIs and entrepreneurs may be based (i.e. Country Life, Cheshire Life) or working alongside a boutique agency that deals with Private PA roles, as you are more likely to hear about suitable roles through these means.

Another way to widen your search is through networking. Networking alone may mean that the process takes a little longer, but attending networking events in Cheshire, such as Alderley Edge or Hale as just two examples, may result in you connecting with people who, if you make a good impression, could point you in the direction of someone they know who is looking for a Private PA.

Brush Up On Your Tech Skills

Compared to working as a Corporate PA, within a company where typically you would have some level of office support or assistance with skills such as IT, marketing, social media, etc., being a Private PA means that you will need to be much more self-sufficient with regards to these types of skills. As such, it is important that you are competent with a number of systems such as Microsoft Office, project management tools, travel booking systems and social media software in order to manage your boss and the various tasks involved in your role. PAs with strong tech skills, and those who are competent working alone and using their initiative, will be the most sort after in Private PA positions. Again, if you are someone who possesses these skills, make sure you have examples on your CV and can demonstrate these skills in an interview setting. The more self-sufficient and self-motivated you come across, the more likely you are to land a role as a Private PA.

Photo by Alexa Williams on Unsplash.

Have you listened to The Power of the PA Podcast yet?

The first episode is full of inspiration and positivity from Sophie Chapman, who supports Steven Bartlett, CEO and Founder of Social Chain. If you're interested in pursuing a Private PA role and keen to hear what it is really like to make the transition, this one is for you.

Topics from this blog: Personal Assistant Private PA

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