The keywords to help you land your next PA role

If you are anything like me, the new year brings a lot of soul searching and a nostalgic look back at the 12 months past. I have spent many a January reading self help books, joining gyms, going on diets and making resolutions that are generally forgotten around the middle of the month. Don’t even get me started on the many ‘dry’ January’s I’ve started only to be scuppered by a large glass of Rioja. With a new year comes a new you and I know that a lot of readers will be looking to find a new job in 2017.

Looking through the varies jobs boards for assistants there are plenty of opportunities out there. But where to start? Well, as we all know the first step on the long and winding road to a new role is to dust off your CV and update it with all the stuff you’ve been up to over the last few years.

Read More

Getting buy in from the boss

 

 “Succeeding in business is all about making connections.  Business is all about personal contact. No matter how heavy your workload is… Everyone can and should be a Networker.” Richard Branson

Generation Y makes about 50% of the current workforce.  Millennials belong to a Show and Tell Culture.  This is a culture which embraces tooting your own horn and showcasing your productivity.  I grew up in a different age where working hard and being humble were par for the course for the PA.  There was less sharing of information, silos in place and limited collaboration.

The modern PA must embrace the current culture in order to remain connected, current and relevant.  It is imperative to be proactive about self-promotion in order to showcase your skills, achievements and personal brand.  The role has changed and so must we.

Have the confidence to take the lead, be proactive and have a conversation with your boss.

My top tips before you request Buy-In are:

  1. Adopt your bosses preferred communication style i.e. The language of leadership. The main thing about getting buy in for anything is to speak the language of your boss and company and highlight the ROI (Return on Investment).  Highlight WIFM (what’s in it for me) and help them to see that you will gain skills and knowledge that will be essential for future growth.
  2. Illustrate the benefits of networking with peers and the exchange of best practice. Time out of the office can improve creative thinking and problem solving, it also provides an opportunity to meet new people that can help with resources and connections.    External networking will broaden the playing fields.
  3. Be mindful of your end goal – you need to tie in your request for L&D to your current position and how it will prepare you and your boss for the future. Will you share your learning with other Assistants thus increasing the ROI?  Will the request tie in with one of your appraisal goals?
  4. Be prepared to negotiate if necessary. If your executive is adamant that they can’t contribute 100% of the funding or timing, then outline that you are willing to pay for X if they pay for Y.   Likewise, if they give you a half day, you will take the other half as annual leave.  It is about give and take until you prove the benefits.  If you request to attend a Training Day and they say that time away from the office is the main issue, then you need to make the conference seem as undisruptive as possible.  You need to reinforce that your work is under control and manage expectations.

Managers ultimately want to hear about bottom lines and how you how you successfully planned and smoothly executed your teams’ success in achieving annual targets.  Like everything in business, it’s about negotiation for both funds and time.

Getting buy-in IS ACHIEVABLE and I managed to successfully get the following approved:

  • Business Cards
  • Internal & External Training
  • Magazine Subscriptions
  • Membership to Networking Clubs & Associations
  • Support for an Internal PA Network
  • Support for External PA Awards
  • Revised Job Description
  • Salary Increase

Business Cards:

I was the first PA within my last company of 30+ Assistants to request Business Cards.

I explained to my boss that I had attended a conference without any and had to write my name and details on scraps of paper which did not feel or look very professional.  My boss totally got it, but I had to further explain to HR for the final approval.  Once it was understood that I needed them in order to fully execute my role and be an effective brand ambassador it was signed off.  Moral of the story – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Internal & External Training:

The first external conference that I ever attended was Square Meal Venues and Events. On the day I reverted to ‘show and tell’ and picked up the annual catalogue of restaurants for both of my bosses which greatly impressed them.  Square Meal is a free conference, which I attended during lunch time, over time I was able to extend the hours as they could see the benefit.  This eventually enabled me to then request paid internal and external training.

Magazine Subscriptions:

In the past when I asked for subscriptions to magazines to be paid by the company I made a point of bringing in the magazine and showing the value that it gave to me.  The main benefit was that I became aware of venues, technology and training which could help us all in my daily role.

Membership to Networking Clubs & Associations:

I’m originally from Dublin so in order to get up to speed as a PA in London I started networking via The PA Club.  I figured if my colleagues were members of other associations for their profession that I had an equal right to pursue it.

I explained that I would be networking in my own personal time in the evenings and how I could add value to the role.   If I was ever impressed by a particular restaurant or hotel I would send them the link or bring them in the hard copy brochure to examine.  Over time I managed to add several hotels to our Globally Approved Travel Program, which enabled all global staff to benefit from discounted rates and also obtained supplier discounts for our intranet company benefits portal.  My connections also enabled me to secure last minute table bookings – the value of which was priceless.

Internal PA Network:

When I saw the need for a PA network within my company I submitted a full business proposal to both my boss and the Head of HR – I described the benefits and ultimately the ROI by introducing a culture of sharing best practice and tips.  I highlighted what was in it for everyone and the bottom line and it was approved by both.

Support for External PA Awards:

At the start of 2015 I set myself the personal challenge of entering several PA of the Year Awards.  I figured that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. At the very least it would be a fantastic way to network with peers and widen my circle.  It was also an optimum way of educating and showing my friends and colleagues that I took my role and profession seriously.  Perhaps some of your clients or competitors PAs attend training or enter PA awards? If so highlight this and what is going on in your industry.

Revised Job Description:

A lot of managers and indeed HR are not fully aware of our entire role so I took it upon myself to revise my job spec which was generic and very minimal.  The best way for me to do this was to do an internal time management course.  At the end of the course we had to keep a 2-day log of all the work we did.  It proved to be highly beneficial as our job can be hard to quantify at times as we are spinning many plates, but this gave me a concrete example of everything done over 2 days.  I forwarded it to my boss as a ‘show and tell’ of my job spec and also of the benefit of attending the internal training.  It then enabled me to broach the subject of editing my job spec.

Salary Increase:

Most companies will actually want an up to date and accurate job spec and this can be used as a valuable appraisal document for measuring progression/performance and edited accordingly.  Just because something has always been a certain way does not mean that it has to remain so.   We need to have a job spec based on our actual remit and duties versus an inherited job spec full of clichés.  Over the course of the year I collated a ‘show and tell’ file of all of the internal / external training I had attended and any work related achievement.  When it came to appraisal time I then had a working file to draw on.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.  Nelson Mandela

People buy people, make sure that your boss and company are buying you.

What is your experience? Do you have any other top tips to impart?

The Assist Conference 2017

Do you need to convince your boss to pay for training and to attend the Assist Conference?  Don’t worry, we have done all the hard work for you and produced a business case document. Places are still available for the conference. To find out more information and to book your spot head on over to the Assist Conference website.

This blog has been written by Jennifer Corcoran, Virtual Assistant and Stylist. You can find more details about Jennifer on her website www.jennifercorcoran.me

Photo©John Cassidy The Headshot Guy® www.theheadshotguy.co.uk 07768 401009

Want to work for a startup? What you need to know

With the end of the year hurtling towards us, many of you will be thinking about next year and potentially looking for a new job. Many of you will want to try something different and that may well be in the form of a new and exciting organisation – or startup, as trendy people like to call new businesses these days! There are many pros and cons when it comes to working for any new organisation, particularly when you are part of the initial setup. Working for a startup can be a real challenge, but for assistants it can also bring lots of rewards. Do you want to work for a start up? This is what you need to know!

Read More

Is job hopping the only way up the career ladder for assistants?

Hi, I’m Nicky Christmas and I am a job hopper. There, I’ve admitted it. I’ve spent many years cleverly covering up the fact that I spent most of my career hopping from one job to another in an effort to climb the career ladder. Prior to running Practically Perfect PA, the longest time I spent in any one organisation was 4 years and in that time I took on two different roles. Recently, I’ve been reading quite a bit about job hopping and how common it is becoming, particularly for younger people entering the work force. Apparently, being loyal to one company doesn’t necessarily pay off (both in terms of salary and promotion) and moving from one role to another in pretty quick succession is becoming less frowned upon.

It’s an interesting topic for me because as I said I have always been a job hopper. During my time as an assistant I always felt that I had a variety of valid reasons why I was looking for a new role and in general job hopping didn’t do me any harm. But, I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons a bit more, particularly for assistants. Here are a few of my thoughts…

Salary increase

I didn’t job hop for an increase in salary, it was always for other reasons, but with every new role I did get a pay rise. For many assistants trying to negotiate a pay rise is extremely difficult and many are turned down because of their organisation’s internal structures. It can be a lot easier to find a new role and negotiate an increased salary during the recruitment process.

Applying for jobs outside of the PA role

Over the years I did apply for a few jobs that were not PA roles, but I very rarely got any response. Once you are in a role it can be very difficult to find a different job – you are effectively pigeonholed by recruiters and organisations alike. If, however, you stay within one organisation, gain experience, it can be easier to move outside of the PA role and find something different. During the course of my career, I applied for two roles that were not traditional PA roles. Both were internal positions and my experience within the organisation really helped me during the interviews. I got one of the roles and I didn’t get the other (to be fair, I didn’t have much experience, but I did get down to the final two). If you are looking for a job outside the normal PA role, perhaps job hopping is not the best approach…

Are you worth investing in?

Although I did job hop a lot I didn’t have much of an issue securing new roles. I always had a valid reason for leaving my current employer. It was often because I felt unmotivated and that I had reached my potential in that organisation. Although I would proactively look for new things to keep me motivated and fulfilled my employer wouldn’t be able to offer me anything more and I would reach a point that I was just ready to move on. Looking back, I wonder if this was a bit of a catch 22 situation. I job hopped because I was unmotivated, but my company didn’t motivate me because they knew I would probably leave anyway… I wonder if I was more loyal to the organisations they may have invested more time in keeping me happy.

Lots of different experiences

A huge pro for all of my job hopping is the amount of different experience I have as an assistant. I worked in lots of different environments, industries, countries and supported lots of different types of Executives. All of the different projects I have worked on over the years have provided me with lots of skills that I might not have otherwise acquired if I stayed in one role. For me that has made job hopping worth it.

I do find this topic really interesting. I think it is slightly different depending on where you work. Job hopping is easier if you work in a major city like I did (during a time that jobs were easier to find too). What do you think? Is job hopping the easiest way for PAs to climb the career ladder?

If you are thinking about changing your current job, we have a free eBook that will help you prepare for the perfect PA interview.

The Practically Perfect PA Guide to: Preparing for the perfect job

Download our free eBook!

Download the eBook

 

Inside the Guernsey PA Network

Firstly, can I have a little background about you…

What is your career background?

I started my working life as a Chef. When I left Catering College it was obvious to me that I wanted something with more regular hours.

The hotel where I was working part time to obtain my catering qualification asked me to stay on. When I told them what I was looking for, they asked me to become the receptionist. After a few years of becoming their Head Receptionist and not learning anything new I was ready for a new challenge. I came across a role for a Doctor’s PA and this gave me my first taste of a PA role. I stayed there for four years.

Read More

Smash your mid year review

With September being half way through the financial year for organisations it is most likely that at some point soon you will have a mid-year review with your manager. If you don’ have anything in the diary or your Executive hasn’t mentioned getting together for a review I would highly recommend you do something about it. Mid year reviews are an important element of your career development. After 6 months you can check how you are progressing through your objectives, and goals and make any necessary changes. 

Read More

How important is office culture?

Our lovely friends over at Career Moves recently conducted a survey to find out how important salary is when looking for a new role. You will be surprised by the results. Here is Sarah with more details…

Do we just want a good salary?

The Career Moves Office Support team recently sent out a Salary and Insights Survey, which produced some surprising results. We surveyed over 200 office support professionals, and discovered some interesting facts:

A huge factor for Assistants when looking for their next opportunity is unsurprisingly salary with 89% saying this was most important when looking for a new role. Interestingly, only a 3rd of respondents are actually happy with their current salary and benefits package!

A salary increase can be extremely attractive, and often a big motivator to change roles, or sometimes even move industry. But interestingly, in the results of our survey, salary did not come out on top. The number one is actually job content with a staggering 92% saying it’s all about the job itself. Secondly, was workplace culture. A whopping 90% said that this is their number one factor to consider when thinking about their next opportunity.

So if you’re thinking of moving roles, and salary is a big motivator for you, stop and consider job content and culture. These are equally as important – sometimes even more so!

How to spot a good office culture

90% considered workplace culture to be the most important thing when looking for a new employer. That is a huge percentage! It can be difficult to get a sense of the office culture before you take the job so here are a few tips to help you spot a great work place:

  1. Has the organisation won any awards or put themselves forward for any. Every year in the UK The Sunday Times puts together a list of the top 100 firms to work for. Alternatively, have a look on the organisation’s website to see if they have been nominated or won any accolades.
  2. Extend your research on the firm to include office culture, values and benefits (particularly around wellbeing). If the organisation has a social media presence this is also a good place to look for examples of their office culture. Is their content fun and relaxed or professional and formal? This will give you a good understanding of the culture and atmosphere in the office.
  3. Remember, you can ask questions in the interview about the office culture! You will get a good sense of what to expect from the interviewer’s answers. During your interviews also take a look at the office itself – what is the set up and what does the furniture look like. Again a nice environment shows that the employer is thinking about their staff.
  4. What is the overall package you are being offered? Although salary is not the number one driving factor it is still important. An employer that offers a good salary for the work that you do shows that they will value you. Also look at the overall benefit package. What else do they offer to retain employees?
  5. Last but not least, you can also speak to your recruitment agency about the employer. What type of candidates have they placed before and if you will be a good fit.

If you are looking for a new role please do download our free Ebook – The Practically Perfect PA guide to: Preparing for the perfect job.

The Practically Perfect PA Guide to: Preparing for the perfect job

Download our free eBook!

Download the eBook

We would also like to thank Career Moves for access to their survey results. If you would like to get in touch with Career Moves, here are the details:

Sarah Savage
t: 0207 758 4308
e: sarah@careermovesgroup.co.uk
w: www.careermovesgroup.co.uk