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


Practically Perfect PA giveaway: The Brother winners are…

Practically Perfect PA giveaway: The Brother winners are…

Last month, we teamed up with technology specialist Brother to give you the chance to win one of five state-of-the-art office labelling machines, the PT-D600VP.

The labeller, which won an iF Design Award for outstanding design quality earlier this year, is the perfect partner for any PA and can bring a touch of colour to your office.

Thank you to everyone who entered the Brother and Practically Perfect PA giveaway. I can now announce the winners… drum roll please… are:

  • Raquel Ruiz
  • Mandy Towell
  • Bridget Clifford
  • Claire Bell
  • Sara Brown

Congratulations to all five of our winners! We will contact you to get your details. Thanks again to Brother for hosting such a fantastic giveaway with us.

To find out more about the PT-D600VP, read the review from four of our assistants from across Europe who put the device to the test in their workplace.

You can find the P-touch range from all good office suppliers or online at

Practically Perfect PA giveaway: The Brother winners are…

This post is sponsored by Brother. Follow the link for more information about Practically Perfect PA’s sponsored posts.

The Practically Perfect Business Traveller’s guide to Boston

The Practically Perfect Business Traveller's guide to Boston

Founded in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest and most illustrious cities in the U.S. It’s where the pilgrims landed and the Red Sox play and with its many educational institutions, stands as a modern-day Athens. Culturally and historically rich, this enchanting metropolis is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and stands as a crossroads, where colonial history meets contemporary innovation.

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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.

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The Future of Business Travel and the Millennial Traveller

At the recent Assist Travel event we were lucky to have Tae Lee, the founder and CEO of Travo talk to our delegates about the future of business travel and the millennial traveller. He covered a lot of interesting points and I thought it would be useful to share his video with you today. I just want to give you a bit more of an introduction to the video.. .here is what Tae covered in his session:

A new generation of business travellers are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. The Millennials, the generation of tech savvy digital natives currently in their twenties and early thirties, will account for nearly half of the workforce by 2020. In this session a true Millennial will look at how the travel industry is already gearing up for this new cohort. Tae will also look at how individual Assistants can prepare as increasingly their Executives travel habits and expectations start to change. So how should Assistants react to their Executives:

  • Travelling more often
  • Loving gadgets
  • Increasing their expenses
  • Spontaneous nature and
  • Ease in voicing dissatisfaction

A bit more about Travo

Our Motto: “TIME IS MONEY”

We believe that time is money. Time can be exchanged for money by working, but it can also be spent curing a disease or spending time with your nine-month old son. Admins and travel planners spend way too much time planning and booking trips. Travellers dread planning their trips until the very last minute because it’s time consuming to not only find flights, hotels, and ground transport, but also to figure out if all the arrangements are timed correctly. It’s hard. TRAVO makes it easy.

Go play, invent, study, love. Let TRAVO do the hard work.

This post is sponsored by Travo. Follow the link for more information about Practically Perfect PA’s sponsored posts.

So, Assist Travel happened… again!

On Friday 9th September we held our second Assist Travel event at The Grange Tower Bridge and from the feedback we received it looks like everyone had a thoroughly good day. After spending quite a bit of time shaping the programme and finding the right speakers I was really pleased with the content which gave lots of practical support for assistants booking business travel. I thought the exhibition space worked well with lots of great suppliers who all contributed to the sessions during the day. The speakers were great and really informative. For those of you that couldn’t make it, here are some of the slides from the morning sessions… I will post the slides from the afternoon later this week!

Stress Free Speedy Travel

Lara Morgan, Serial Entrepreneur and extensive business traveller

How to get the most out of your Travel Management Company

Lyndsey Atkins, Marketing Director, Reed & Mackay

Peter Navickas, Team Leader, Flight Centre Business Travel

We are looking at our event programme for next year and I will keep you up to date on all of the developments. In the meantime, we do have the Assist Conference taking place on Friday 24th February 2017. The conference programme, speakers and registration details can be found on the website.


8 Easy Contract Changes to Make for More Sustainable Events

8 Easy Contract Changes to Make for More Sustainable Events

It is our responsibility to make the changes we can to be more sustainable but naturally we cannot all chain ourselves to an oil rig and declare to stop flying places. We can however use the events industry to make small but significant changes. We can review our venue contracts and make conscious decisions to ask the questions about waste and sustainable resources.

Here are 5 easy changes that can be made today.

1. Food wastage

Think of the amount of food waste during any one event. Whether it is a corporate dinner, a lunch buffet or a mass participation sporting event.

Catering is greatly wasted and not only is it environmentally really bad it is ethically heartbreaking.

Ensure your venue has special measures in place for its food waste. Healthy and safety laws make it much more difficult now with food leaving premises but with the right disclaimers and pre planning you can have local food kitchens collect the unused food or at the very least packaged up for crew to take home.

2. Buy local

Wherever you are planning your event ask your venue to ensure they buy local food and drink product and wherever possible use local suppliers. We are able to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by reducing our import levels and more importantly we are supporting our local workers. This notion is true of whatever city you are in.
If you are buying wine in France, buy French wine.

3. Recycle

I’m not saying you have to go paperless. Sometimes we just need things written down and all we really want is an agenda on a piece of paper! But make sure the venue has suitable recycling facilities available and put confidential recycling bins all around your event.

It is not the use of paper that causes the problems, it is the lack of correct disposal facilities meaning paper goes into the regular bin, then to the regular dump and then into good old regular landfill.

4. Reduce washing

Ask your venue what its policy is on towel and bedding washing. Then also explain to your delegates that this is the case. Most people know that a towel in the bath means wash me, but if people thought about the frivolous waste of detergents and water that washing towels and bedding once a day creates they might think twice. After all, do you wash your towels every day at home? Unlikely.

5. Utilise Students

Developing our future event professionals is key to ethical sustainability. Ask your venue what their policy is on work experience and graduates and if they don’t have something in place bring in your own! The University of Greenwich run a great placement programme for corporates and agencies looking for interns and event students. They may also be your most enthusiastic and dynamic employees and are perfect for registration and hospitality support.

6. Arrange arrival and departure transfers

Commuting accounts for a third of all car travel and events are a great opportunity to reduce that. Make sure you have provided in advance adequate group transport instructions and also utilise coaches to reduce individual cars. Organise arrival transfers from the station, from the office, from a convenient location. Just don’t leave it up to all attendees to “hop in a taxi.” It affects both carbon emissions and the amount of expense receipts coming through!

7. Save energy

Have your venue put in writing that they will turn off all lights and air conditioning when meeting spaces are not in use and make sure they stick to it. Have your event manager walk around the venue an hour after the meeting and turn off all switches and electricity outputs. If you are at an offsite dinner you do not need the air conditioning on in your meeting room!

8. Communicate

Let your delegates know that you are making these changes. Do not just call your event “green” and hope that does the job. It is not enough and it will not resonate with people. Outline the exact changes you have made and what they can do. It also reduces resistance if they are prepared in advance that towels are not being washed daily!

Sustainability is not just about being “paperless” but it is easier than you think to bring sustainable measures into your programme. No event manager really wants to see food go to waste when someone is in need and every successful event professional was given their break by someone, so pay it forward and get event students on board!

Chances are your venue and suppliers are willing to make all these changes, they just need to be asked the right questions!

Hannah Luffman

Hannah very kindly spoke at Assist Travel which took place in London on 9th September.

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