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.

If you haven’t looked for a new role in a while you may find the whole process daunting. Firstly, you will probably have to apply to an agency first, through an online application. You then have to cross your fingers in the hope that your CV passes through whatever keyword algorithm they have in place that matches your CV with your potential employer’s job spec. This in itself can put anyone off applying for a new role. But! Don’t let the keyword algorithm scare you! Get that CV out, dust off the cobwebs and make sure you have the right keywords in place to land your perfect PA role.

Key word searches for Assistants

I have asked our fantastic recruitment partners Career Moves, to show us how they use keyword searches to place assistants in new roles. It really does make for interesting reading and will help you structure your CV accordingly. Over to Sarah at Career Moves…

There are so many searches that can be performed when trying to find that perfect candidate. The requirements vary depending on what our clients are looking for and there are pros and cons of doing wide searches as well as more narrow searches.

When looking for an experienced assistant for a more ‘traditional’ supporting role I often begin my search with:

(‘Executive Assistant’ or ‘EA’ or ‘Business Assistant’ or ‘PA’ or ‘Personal Assistant’) AND (‘Founder’ or ‘CEO’ or ‘Chairman’)

Depending on whether the opportunity is business or personal I may search the following:

(‘PA’ or ‘Private Assistant’ or ‘Household Assistant’) AND (‘Celebrity’ or ‘HNWI’ or ‘UHNIW’)

It is always a good idea, when writing a CV that you state the position of the Executive that you support and the industry, in addition to the above we will search for specific industries too:

(‘PA’ or ‘Personal Assistant’) AND (‘advertising agency’ or ‘Media Agency’)

We can add as many industry variations here in these brackets.

Similarly, we will also search for specific computer packages or languages or anything else that is a prerequisite for the position:

(PA or ‘Personal Assistant’) and ‘PowerPoint’ / (‘PA’ or ‘Personal Assistant’) AND (‘Spanish’)

We find that more and more clients with roles supporting at that very senior level, ask for experienced EAs from top universities and so we need to search on academics as well as experience.

To search for candidates with strong academics, we would go about this in two ways – searching for top educational institutions, or searching for candidates for postgraduate qualifications.

When searching for candidates who have studied at the top educational institutions, we would search as below. This is an example search looking for candidates from the top universities across the UK and Europe:

(‘PA’ or ‘personal assistant’ or ‘EA’ or ‘Executive Assistant’) AND (‘University of Oxford’ or ‘University of Cambridge’ or ‘Imperial College London’ or ‘University College London’)

When searching for candidates with the top degrees from these universities, we might restrict the search further and look for candidates with first class degree qualifications. Candidates will write this one of two ways on their CV: First class or 1st class. So our search would look like something like this:

(‘PA’ or ‘personal assistant’ or ‘EA’ or ‘executive assistant’) AND (‘University of Oxford’ or ‘University of Cambridge’ or ‘Imperial College London’ or ‘University College London’ or ‘Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich’ or ‘Heidelberg University’ or ‘University of Edinburgh’) AND (‘first class’ or ‘1st class’ or ‘first-class’)

This search does not necessarily produce the desired results every time, as there will be candidates who have perhaps worked at one of these institutions or have used the words “first class” when discussing a particular skill-set. Advice to candidates would be to write it as “1st class” as this seems to be the most common way of displaying this qualification result. Using “first-class” (with the hyphen) potentially is too uncommon for all recruiters to include this in their search.

If for instance, we really want candidates with post-graduate qualifications we would search for either “masters” or the specific abbreviation for a master qualification. There are many, but we would perhaps look for ones that are most relevant: MA OR MSc OR MBA.

I would suggest candidates with post-graduate qualifications use the word Masters – perhaps in their profile when discussing their level of qualification – but also the specific abbreviation for their type of Masters in their educational history. They could also go one step further and use the words “post-graduate” somewhere in their CV.

A search for this would look something like this:

(‘PA’ or ‘personal assistant’ or ‘EA’ or ‘executive assistant’) AND (‘post-graduate’ or ‘post graduate’ or ‘MA’ or ‘MSc’ or ‘MBA’ or ‘masters’)

(‘PA’ or ‘personal assistant’ or ‘EA’ or ‘executive assistant’) AND (‘academics’ or ‘principal’ or ‘professor’ or ‘educational’)

Alternatively, we may look to pick the top institutions in a certain location such as:

(‘PA’ or ‘personal assistant’ or ‘EA’ or ‘executive assistant’) AND (‘London School of Economics’ or ‘Imperial College London’)

The difficulty for us with these searches is that we run the risk of finding lots of candidates who have just studied at these locations. So, if candidates can make themselves stand out by using multiple keywords for their chosen industry, they have the opportunity to make themselves more visible.

The key for candidates is to try and include as many relevant keyword searches in their CV. Job boards will often filter candidates by the most relevant first. It will either be done by this or filtered by date last logged in/registered.

The relevancy is based on a keyword search from the CV. So, if a candidate is seeking work in a particular industry – in this case academics – I suggest trying to include as many keywords in their profile as possible (such as ‘academics’ or ‘educational’ or ‘educational establishment’) Note: I have not used Education as the majority of CVs will include this in their Education History.

It’s key to make it clear in the profile that you are seeking work in your relevant industry (if that is the case) and that is one of the best areas of your CV to include these keywords.

Your second opportunity is within your Career History. For instance, rather than calling yourself an EA or PA, consider putting who you support (if this is industry relevant) for instance ‘PA to Professor’.  

10 essential CV writing Verbs

I also came across this Infographic that I think will also help you construct a pretty kick arse CV:

The keywords to help you land your next PA role

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

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A word from our sponsor

The Career Moves Office Support Team are thrilled to be the main sponsor for the Practically Perfect PA E-book and the Assist Conference 2017. The Office Support Team has more than 25 years’ experience working with highly experienced administrative professionals. Our network of clients ranges from startups and SME’s, to global tech and media brands. We also work with a number of high-net worth individuals looking for a private or business PA.

Roles that we regularly recruit for include: executive assistants, personal assistants, team administrators, receptionists, operations managers and facilities managers.

Please get in touch with a member of the team for a confidential conversation and see how we can help you find your perfect role.