What are the qualities of a good personal assistant?

Written by barb nefer
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What are the qualities of a good personal assistant?
The qualities of a good personal assistant (Getty Premium images)

A good personal assistant can be a huge help to a busy professional in virtually any business. Executives, sales professionals and even celebrities use personal assistants to handle their appointments and correspondence and perform other important and time-saving tasks. If you are considering hiring a personal assistant, you should know the qualities to seek. This will allow you to hire a good assistant who can make your professional life much easier.

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Communication skills

A personal assistant communicates with other people constantly, setting up appointments and meeting and carrying out other business-related tasks. She must be able to communicate clearly to avoid any misunderstandings. She should be able to keep her composure when communicating with difficult people or those who might be argumentative.

Personality

A personal assistant deals with a variety of people every day in the course of his business. This requires a pleasant, outgoing personality. Politeness and courtesy must be maintained no matter what the circumstances. Most people can be pleasant when things are going well, but a personal assistant needs to be able to do it under stress and pressure. He must also be able to balance courtesy with assertiveness when necessary to insulate you from unwanted solicitation and other distractions.

Organisational skills

A personal assistant must be highly organised and detail oriented. She will be handling your calendar, scheduling appointments, taking calls, writing down messages, screening postal and e-mail and doing other duties that require care and accuracy. She must be able to distinguish and handle high-priority items and set aside unimportant ones. She should be proficient in calendar and scheduling software.

Flexibility

Sometimes the most carefully laid plans can fall apart with little or no warning. A personal assistant must be flexible enough to deal with this. Instead of panicking or giving in to stress, he must be able to go quickly into damage-control mode. He must also be ready to handle any task the boss might toss at him.

Problem-solving skills

A personal assistant often acts as the "blocker" for her boss, screening calls and visitors and handing as much business as she can. This frees up the boss to concentrate on more important and pressing matters. The assistant must have good independent problem-solving skills so she can handle tricky situations herself and solve problems rather than consulting the boss for guidance.

Experience

A good personal assistant needs on-the-job experience. Education is important, but it cannot replicate the wide variety of situations that will be encountered in the workplace. Personal assistants get practice and hone their skills while working in the real-world environment. It takes some time to learn how to apply school learning and theoretical knowledge to real job situations.

Computer skills

Personal assistants use computers to carry out many of their duties. A good personal assistant will know how to use word processing software, e-mail, calendar and scheduling software and other programs that help him carry out his duties. He should also be able to use the Internet proficiently, including research skills.

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