Why personal development is your own responsibility

Why personal development is your own responsibility

That “back to school” feeling affects us all, even if we have left our school days far behind. There is definitely an air of a new start, a fresh approach to work and the motivation for self-improvement every September. It’s that time of the year when we see the full time and adult education terms start up and I personally have spent many an autumn evenings at an evening class in a cold classroom clutching a pumpkin spiced latte!

If you work as a PA/EA or Administrator, you have a lot of options, the obvious ones like advanced IT skills, MS Office et al and maybe some new IT skills (I highly recommend MS Visio). Or you might like to study something that will help you with the strategic end of your role or help with your next career move such as Marketing, Human Resources, or Public Relations. The vast majority of evening courses I have undertaken were self-funded. And I have studied all of the above.

When it comes to conferences, workshops, seminars and on-site training during working hours, however, how proactive are you? The market research I undertook when I was developing my own training courses revealed that 28% of PAs surveyed have not upskilled in their current role. They also expressed that they felt a lack of appreciation for their role from their colleagues generally. If you work in an industry where your co-workers are in other professions, such as in health where your colleagues are nurses or say, occupational therapist, and constant upskilling and keeping abreast of industry developments is the norm and is in fact expected, as an Administrator you can feel left out, left behind and forgotten.

Personally, I don’t believe it’s your manager’s role to provide your self-development. I believe it’s their role to support and encourage it, but essentially you need to be the one to take control. So, if you are not being asked to attend training, workshops and conferences, take matters into your own hands and ask for it. As an Administrator, your skill set doesn’t change as rapidly as other professions.  You may need to put it out there that you want to be involved, you want to upskill, develop and grow yourself and the company. Show your enthusiasm.

If you have never been provided with or funded for formal training in your current role or have never been given an opportunity to attend a conference, workshop or seminar, have you asked for it? Have you asked and been refused? If so, maybe take a look at your approach and ask yourself if you could provide a business case for why it would benefit the business for you to attend. Always sell the benefits to the company first and yourself second. This applies to interviews and it applies to looking for training too.

Remember, if you never ask, then the answer will always be no.

This is a guest post from Margaret Young, owner of Train MY Admin. Margeret will be speaking at the Practically Perfect PA Virtual Summit

Why personal development is your own responsibility

As a PA/EA trainer, I provide training to clients based in Dublin and around Ireland. I am currently organising workshops which will be held in central Dublin hotels and I am also available for on-site, in company training, either 1 to 1 or group, all around Ireland. If this post has struck a chord with you, you might like to contact me for a chat and a training needs assessment. We can plan our approach on how to ask your manager for approval/funding together. You can reach me anytime at margaret@trainmyadmin.ie or 00353 85 7351464 or via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

Is running your own VA business the new career progression for PAs?

Is running your own VA business the new career progression for PAs?

The roles of Personal and Executive Assistants are changing. For many, that means increased responsibility and a role that’s evolved from the traditional one they first stepped into. Many EAs and PAs are therefore looking for viable alternatives, where they can be more in control of their working patterns and tasks – and running their own VA business is becoming a preferred career progression option. Is running your own VA business the new career progression for PAs?

PA & EA roles are changing

Although administrative roles are often still perceived as mainly office-based typing and manual management of diaries etc, the reality is something far different to the average assumptions. Personal and Executive Assistants are facing ongoing changes to their existing role.

There’s an increased need for digital skills, such as managing social media, websites and managing cloud-based applications, from file sharing to appointment scheduling. Many roles are being expanded to include tasks a traditional PA or EA would never had to get involved in, such as finances and industry specific processes and trends.

This means the demands placed on PAs and EAs are increasing, with many needing to learn more than the traditional skills they originally needed, to proficiently carry out their work. There’s an increased need to understand more about the

People are looking for more flexibility

It’s understandable that many are looking for more flexibility and control over what their role entails. They’re looking to work hours that suit, without the need to commute and many, simply want to spend the extra time with their family. With the EA and PA roles moving over to a more digital-based environment, there’s a growing demand for part-time and home-based positions to better suit this evolving need. If you’re running most of your tasks online, it makes sense to no longer be tied to a physical work location and to enjoy a more flexible working pattern.

Self-employment – is not a dirty or scary word

Self-employment is becoming a more attractive option for many EAs and PAs. It’s no longer seen as a step-down to your current position or a riskier way to earn your money, but as something that is a more viable and sensible solution.

Being self-employed gives you the control over your working pattern, your role and your finances. You can build a business on your terms, working the hours and days you want to work and freeing you up to have a better work/life balance, that’s based on your unique needs.

A VA business is a viable option

Many EAs and PAs are therefore making the leap into running their own VA business. They already have the hard and soft skills needed to become a successful VA, and with a little investment into some additional training, they can hit the ground running.

Running your own VA business gives you the chance to work a completely flexible workload, where you can work with those clients who best suit your existing skillset. You’re no longer limited to working with one client either, with many VAs working with several clients at one time – leading to more work variety and a higher sense of job satisfaction.

It also gives you the opportunity to earn a higher rate of pay. You’re no longer tied to a set wage and can instead, package your services in a way that appeals to your target clients. With many clients looking to buy chunks of time upfront or pay a retainer for your services, you’re in much more control of your own earning potential.

Gain a better work/life integration

Many VAs have young families at home, and they want to be there for them. However, they also want to have a place in the workforce too – and having your own VA business opens up the opportunity to have both.

You’re no longer limited to working from one place either, and with a young family this is key. You’re no longer tied to your desk, as you can have a portable office via Wi-Fi and access via your smartphone, laptop or tablet. You can choose where you work and when.

It opens you up to a better work/life integration, as you can spend time with your children in the school holidays, taking them on days out and on holiday, without worrying about missing out on valuable working hours – as you can take your work with you, to carry out whilst your children are asleep on holiday or spending a few hours in the ballpark.

The freedom and flexibility that can be gained from running your own VA business is therefore understandably, becoming an increasing attractive career progression option for many EAs and PAs.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a VA, VIP VA can support you in a number of ways.

To find out more, please visit their site or join their free Facebook group. 

Is running your own VA business the new career progression for PAs?

Charlotte Wibberley

CEO & Founder, VIP VA


Twitter: @vipvaorg

FB: @vipva.org

How to nail a video interview

How to nail a video interview

According to tech giant Cisco, 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019.

No surprise then that the vast majority of employers now use video as part of their interview process, saying it saves a significant amount of time on face-to-face interviews and gives hiring managers a strong understanding of who will fit in a specific role and company culture.

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The benefits of working abroad for Assistants

As many of you will know, I moved to Barcelona a few years ago to work as an assistant and marketing manager for Gallus Events. I must say, looking back, I was pretty brave. Moving to a new country where I didn’t know the language or many people. At the time I had a great job in London, I lived in an amazing part of town, had a fun social life and, well, everything was pretty settled! Saying all that I have never regretted moving here, taking those initial steps have led to so many wonderful opportunities.

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Career development for Assistants: 5 common problems and how to solve them

Career development for Assistants: 5 common problems and how to solve them

Recently, the OpenMeet team had the pleasure of participating in the annual Practically Perfect PA Assist Conference 2017, where we ran a few workshops on career development for assistants: 5 common problems and how to solve them. This is the second of three blogs that we are producing based on all the great information and feedback we got from our workshop participants. Read the first one, on what to look for in an event supplier, and watch out for the third and final blog, on how to ensure organisations value PA work!

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Using networks to get stuff done

Using networks to get stuff done

Just last week I was reminded how brilliant PAs are at using networks to get stuff done. I’m lucky to be a member of a direct messaging group on Twitter made up of some very awesome and proactive assistants. I was on the website the other day and noticed that I had a load of new messages flashing away. When I took a quick peek I saw that one of the PAs had messaged the others to ask if they knew any courier services that could deliver to Germany over the weekend. It was a bit of a tricky and really urgent request. Within the space of an hour the assistant had the contact details for a courier service and had resolved the issue. I can only imagine how impressed her boss was! It showed me how powerful assistants can be when they tap into their networks. We don’t have the answers to everything (although often our organisations think that we do!) but with the help of other assistants we can basically rule the world! So how do we ensure our networks are there to help us get stuff done? Here are a few tips:

Top tips: Using Networks to get stuff done

Get to know your network

Assistants have access to many networks that can help with various aspects of the role. It is important to get to know the people within the networks. If you can all put a face to a name it really helps. If you can get out and about, attend networking events and get to know other assistants this really helps. If you are more of a social network kinda assistants ensure you like, share and comment on other assistant’s posts. Simply getting to know your contacts will make it easier for you to help each other out.

Give and take – networks need to get stuff from you 

This is really important. If someone in your network asks for help and you can help – do! If you have a great supplier that you can share with your network or any advice, training suggestions or something that you have implemented that works sharing this knowledge don’t hold back from sharing the information. Your network might not need that contact now, but it might come in handy another time. Giving back is the number one rule to networking!

Don’t beat around the bush – get stuff done quickly

We are a busy bunch and I think most assistants would prefer a straightforward conversation. If you need help, ask for it up front. This is one of the reasons we network in the first place! We get asked questions a billion times a day from colleagues so we are pretty used to sharing our knowledge and helping other people out. Don’t be shy! Your network will have the answers and if they don’t, they probably know someone who does!

Don’t rule people out – they have networks too! 

Assistants deal with all manner of issues so actually our knowledge is pretty widespread and our networks can be really big. So don’t rule people out because you don’t think they will be able to help – you never know and it is always worth asking the question. It is also well worth being a little creative with your networks. Try to network with people who might be able to help in certain areas. For example, I always found the post room staff to be incredibly helpful when I needed details for a new supplier – they see parcels, packages and couriers bringing new products in and out of the office all day long. They knew all kinds of stuff!

Assistants are naturally good networks, you might not think it, but we are! The nature of our role means we come in contact with lots of different people, companies and suppliers and we generally are pretty helpful types! So next time you need something remember using networks to get stuff done will help no end.

How to make a bad first impression better

How to make a bad first impression better

Last year I wrote a blog about how assistants should always try to make a really great first impression. You never know who you will end up working with, or for, so it is important that you take the time to make that first contact memorable for all the right reasons. Saying that, everyone has their off days and you can’t be ‘on’ 24/7. We’ve all made bad first impressions. But it is important, especially in business, to be able to make a bad first impression better! Here are a few tips:

Opinions are pretty fluid

People change their mind all the time. Try not to worry too much if you messed up the first time you met someone just try to be a little more like your amazing self the next time you meet them…. And a few more times after that. According to a Harvard study, it will take eight subsequent positive encounters to change that person’s negative opinion of you. So if you really do need this person to think well of you be on tip top form every chance you get in their company. 

Fess up

If you did something really bad when you first met someone then honesty is probably the best policy. Take the person aside, hold your hands up and tell them that you weren’t having the best day and that actually you are pretty ace once they get to know you. Honesty goes a long way so don’t avoid the person for the rest of your professional life. Have a quick conversation, nip it in the bud, fess up.

Follow up with an email

The saying goers ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ and in this case you might find it easier to email your way into a better relationship. I can have bad days where I am socially awkward, I think most of us can, but I can be incredibly gregarious over email. Follow up any bad first impression with a lovely email expressing your joy in meeting that person and you might just save the day.

Accept that not everyone is going to like you

Losers! No, seriously, not everyone is going to realise how great you are. Sometimes you have to accept their opinion and move on. They may change their mind once they realise you know everything there is to know about the running of your office, but until then deal with them on a basic level.