Chapter one

So you want to find a new Assistant role?

The initial steps Assistants should take when starting a new job search.

For whatever reason, you have decided it is time for a new job. It can be tempting to take the first offer, particularly as finding that perfect Assistant role can be long and arduous.

However, with some planning, Assistants can increase their chances of landing the ideal job that pays the bills and lets them shine.

This chapter will cover your motivations for finding a new Assistant role. It is a long process, and we want to ensure you have everything covered!

We all know that looking for a new job isn’t easy.

It can take a lot of time with hours of searching through job descriptions, speaking to recruitment agencies and then preparing for and going to job interviews.

It is a job in itself!

But, most Assistants start a new job search because they are ready to move on from their current role.

So, often Assistants jump into a new job search without considering what they want from the next job, what they have learnt and what they can contribute to a new organisation.

Asking yourself questions and following a proven process will hold you in good stead regarding your next job search.

Let’s have a look at what we are going to cover in this chapter:

Are you outgrowing your Assistant role?

I think we’ve all been there.

You’ve been working in your role for a few years. You know everything there is to know about the job, and you’ve settled into a reasonably easy routine that doesn’t come with too much pressure.

Life is good.

But then comes the day when you start to feel a bit bored and unmotivated; the stuff that used to make you feel excited just doesn’t anymore.

I’ve felt like that in some roles, particularly after a few years when every day was good but not in the slightest bit challenging.

If you feel the same, maybe it is time to ask yourself, ‘are you outgrowing your PA role?

There are tale signs that you are outgrowing your PA or EA role, and here are just a few….

You’re not feeling motivated

This is a biggie.

When you are not engaged with your work or don’t feel like you are helping the organisation, it is time to think about your role.

Are you unmotivated because you need a more challenging role ultimately?

A new role and environment will undoubtedly give you that creative spark again. Or, are you just bored with your day-to-day role and perhaps you could ask your Executive for something more challenging?

Every day is the same

I would be worried if I was in your shoes and every day was the same.

In pretty much every good role I’ve been in, I have been able to say that variety is the best thing about the job. For most PAs, every day is entirely different; that is what we love.

If every day is the same and you have little or no variety, you could have outgrown the role.

Also, if you are so good at your job, any problem is easily solved, and you don’t get that rush of excitement when something new crops up – also a sign!

There is no room for growth whatsoever

Okay, this is tricky for PAs because we often ask ourselves, ‘where is this role going?’

Firstly, many of us are put in pay brackets that don’t reflect our worth.

Secondly, our role is not part of the career development path within the organisation, so there aren’t any promotions or job title changes available, and thirdly moving from being a PA to a non-board level Executive to an EA to a CEO doesn’t necessarily mean that the tasks and the day to day change.

So traditional growth within an Assistant’s career is challenging anyway!

Suppose you find that you are not being given any new opportunities to grow within your current role, which could be new projects, being allowed to travel with your Exec or having a new job title to get a pay rise. In that case, it is time to ask if you are outgrowing your PA role.

Your expertise is not being used

Assistants have many skills and knowledge; obviously, some will be used more than others, depending on the role.

If you find that your favourite skills, the stuff that you are good at and what you love to do, are not being utilised, then it might be that you’ve outgrown the role.

Especially if you have skills that came with a degree or skills that took years to perfect through hard-fought experience.

What should you do if you have outgrown your PA role?

If you have read this and thought, yup, that’s me, then don’t quite pack up your bags just yet!

The first thing you have to do is talk to your Executive.

If they are a good manager, they will probably have noticed you aren’t wholly as motivated as you were.

Be honest. Tell them how you feel.

Your manager’s answer will tell you everything you need to know about your next move.

Either they will be supportive and help you rediscover your love of the role, or they will say something like (and this happened to me), ‘oh, yeah, it’s not great being an assistant. It must get a bit dull after a while.’

At this point, I decided to start my next job search.

Before you get fully involved in your job search, there are a few questions you should ask yourself that will start the process correctly.

Hard Skills for Assistant Template

 Assistant Skills to include in your CV

Use this guide to capture all of your high-level Assistant skills.

CV template for Assistants

CV Template for Assistants

Use this template to craft the perfect resume for your Assistant job search. 

Five questions to ask before you start your next job search

These five questions will hold you in good stead regarding your next job search.

Is my CV up to date?

Many people lock their CVs away when they have a new job and rarely look at them again.

If you’ve been in your current role for a while, you will have gathered many new skills to add to your CV, so it might take longer than you think to whip your CV into shape.

Take the time to perfect your CV to reflect the best version of you when you send it out into the world.

Should I leave this job?

Why are you starting a new job search? Is it because you’ve been at the company extended and are ready for a new challenge? Have you been made redundant or just out of school?


If you hate your job, lack motivation and can’t stand your boss, then take a moment to ponder whether or not you can turn the situation around without moving to a new employer.

Have you had an honest and open conversation with your Executive?

Is there more you can do?

Suppose the answer is no, then great! Start looking for a new job. It is always worth reflecting on your current situation before starting a new search.

What are my salary expectations?

Your salary expectations are worth thinking about before you start your job search.

Many Assistants only get significant pay increases when we job hop (move from one position to the next quickly).

So do think about getting to that next pay level seriously.

You will have increased your skillset in your current role and are worthy of a pay rise (even if your current employer disagrees).

Look at the job market and go for those roles with a higher salary. You never know. You might be a great fit and what the employer was looking for.

What do I want in my next role?

More responsibility? A better office culture? An increase in pay and benefits?

Hopefully, all of the above, right?!

Do spend some time reflecting on what you want in the new role. This will help you narrow your job search and deal with recruiters who try to put you forward for positions that don’t fit your expectations.

If your criteria are specific, it might take you longer to find that perfect job, but it will be worthwhile.

Do I have all the requirements for the next job?

Once you have decided what you want to do in your role, start building the skills required.

Once you’ve done this exercise, you might realise that you need a further qualifications or a bit more experience and decide to take a new job that gets you moving in the right direction.

Or you stay in your current role until you finalise your qualifications. The job you accept now might not be your dream role, but it is a stepping stone in the right direction. If you have everything you need for the dream job now, go for it!

Five steps to take before you start actively looking for a new role

One: What are you looking for in your new role?

It’s time to think about you. As Assistants, this is not something we do very often, but when looking for a new role, you must reflect on what you want.

Asking yourself this question will not only help you understand what jobs to apply for it will also help you prepare for the interview process.

Do you want to advance your career?

Do you want a better work/life balance?

Do you want more responsibility in your new role or more creative tasks?

What type of work excites you?

Before you begin looking for a new Assistant role, it is worthwhile defining what exactly you want from your new role and what your aspirations are for your future (not just salary but what you enjoy in your work).

Two: Tailor your cover letter and CV

We will cover this in greater detail later in the guide, but make sure to tailor your CV and cover letter for each job you are applying for.

For example, applying for an Assistant role that supports a Communications Director emphasises your marketing skills. Or, if you are using this for your first role working with a board-level Executive, ensure you highlight any previous experience working with senior staff members.

Three: Applying for roles through a Recruitment Agency

Recruitment agencies want to find candidates that their clients are happy with.

Usually, this will mean that they only place a candidate in a position they have experience in, ideally one that they have done in the past and have a proven track record.

This is why you must tailor your resume before approaching an agency; otherwise, you will do what you have always done.

Ensure you are clear with the type of role you want and stick to it, so the agency doesn’t send you unsuitable opportunities.

When applying for jobs through a website, ensure your CV has all the keywords appropriate for the job you are applying for. The agencies will only call you if your CV has passed their keyword algorithm.

Unfair but accurate!

Once you are invited to see an agent remember that they are the gatekeepers to the organisation you want to work for, do think of it as an interview.

Dress appropriately and be prepared to answer questions about your career to date and experiences. Also, remember that you can interview them too. You have every right to make sure they are the kind of agent you want representing you.

Four: Remember to apply directly too!

Targeting organisations you would like to work for and connecting directly with them is an excellent idea. They may not be recruiting then but might keep your CV on file if anything arises.

As ever, it is also worthwhile making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and you stay connected to your ideal employers on social media just in case they post any recruitment opportunities. Also, network with other Assistants and attend local events; you never know which contact might think of you when a job arises.

Five: Should you go to every interview?

It depends on where you are in your career.

Don’t waste time going to interviews that are unsuitable for you.

However, if you are not confident in interviews or are not 100% sure what you want your next career move to be, you have nothing to lose by attending most interviews.

You will gain interview experience, learn more about the job, and like its sound or meet the Executive and click. Once you are at a level where you are confident in yourself and your skills, you will become much more selective with the jobs you pick and the interviews you attend.

Job hunting tips when you are already employed

It can be tricky job hunting when you are already employed, but the research suggests that the most desirable candidates already work full-time.

So, how do you search for a new job without jeopardising the one you already have?

Here are our five tips for those of you who are job hunting when you are already employed.

Find the time to search

You will have to dedicate some of your time to the job search because it is unethical to research a new role during your working hours.

While your current employer still pays you, please don’t spend time researching new roles on their computers. Plus, you’ll probably give the game away that you are looking for something else.

Recruiters work the same hours as you, so if you need to take a call or answer an email, wait until your break, and never use your current work address to communicate with a recruitment agency or new employer.

Everything can be done online now, so you can look at job boards, apps, LinkedIn and other sites in your own time and outside of working hours.

When updating your LinkedIn profile, it is worth turning off your notifications so that your current colleagues cannot see you making changes and don’t change your status to ‘looking for a new job’.

When you post your CV onto all the various job boards, remember that you will initially be inundated with calls from recruitment agencies, so either turn your phone off during working hours or at least put it on vibrate!

When do you go for an interview?

Good question.

Before or after work or during your lunch break, if your new employer insists that you interview during work hours, you could take a personal day or vacation.

If you have flexible working hours, now is the time to use them.

To tell or not to tell

I wouldn’t recommend telling your current boss you are seeking a new job.

Even if they know you are unhappy in your role, things will differ between you. Sometimes job hunting doesn’t lead anywhere, or it takes forever, so best to keep the search to yourself until you are sure you are leaving (when you have a firm offer from your new employer).

I also suggest you not tell your colleagues that you might be the best of buddies, but why share something that will negatively affect your personal life and money situation if word gets back to your Executive?

Who should you ask for references?

You can ask a past employer to provide references (that isn’t your current one), or you can ask someone that is an old work colleague or someone high standing in your community or someone that knows you well and can sing your praises (not your mum).

Your references do not have to come from your current employer.

What to wear for the interview?

How often have you dressed up for work, and someone has said, “going for an interview?” Ha Ha… Anyway, best to change into your interview outfit once you’ve left the office.

Or switch back to your regular office clothes after the interview, especially if you usually wear casual stuff to work.

My last piece of advice would be this.

Don’t check out of work once you decide to look for a new job.

Job hunting can take a while, and if you go to work every day with a ‘couldn’t care less attitude, you will be sussed out immediately and remember you’ll need these people to give you a reference in the future.

So, be on your best behaviour until the day you leave!

Now that you have the information and the motivation to set out and find your ideal Assistant role, it’s time to start researching your next opportunity.

Break down any mental obstacles you may have built up in yourself, and take action today. Instil confidence within yourself as you go through the job search process. Be proactive; connect with contacts, network, sign up for relevant newsletters, browse job sites, and create strong CVs and applications.

A successful job hunt requires days, if not weeks, of dedicated effort. The reward for this hard work is immense: that perfect job which helps you achieve all the goals you have set out for yourself! So keep a positive attitude while finding a new Assistant role – it will pay off in the end. To best help with your job search process, why not look at our Accelerate Your Assistant Job Search Online Course? We wish you luck on this exciting journey!


Next Chapter:

Looking for an Assistant role online
Chapter TWO