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What should you look for in an Admin/PA Candidate’s CV?

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

Is your diary in disarray? Are you always double-booked? Have your databases become the sock drawer of your business? If so, it sounds like you could do with a helping hand from a talented PA to lay the foundations for business growth.

But be warned - finding the right Candidate can be a challenge in itself: after all, it takes more than basic admin experience to be a successful PA. Outstanding communication skills, a proactive attitude and the ability to chop and change plans at the last minute are all vital qualities of the perfect Personal Assistant, but it’s not always easy to grasp a Candidate’s strengths from a CV alone. If you’re in the market for a PA to help your professional life run smoothly, here are the key signs to look out for:

Problem solving skills

A solutions-oriented PA can be a company’s secret weapon. Every day, they will be faced with a myriad of seemingly small challenges that can quickly escalate into critical issues if not dealt with in the right way. Ultimately, they must be able to think on their feet; they must have a natural knack for trouble shooting and take a pro-active approach in minimising the risk of reoccurring issues. If successful, you’ll rarely hear about the challenges they’ve overcome as they will be handled with care and competency before they’ve had a chance to grow into serious concerns.

Problem-solving is the mark of an independent Employee - so naturally, it’s a trait which is of utmost importance in the PA role. When screening CVs, keep an eye out for Candidates who detail the impact of their input rather than list off responsibilities. Knowledge of Excel may be pivotal, but examples of a can-do attitude will help separate the good from the great in your search for an assistant.

Outside leadership experience

You may be seeking an experienced PA, but be careful not to overlook potential in favour of qualifications or years in the game. For instance, an applicant with outside leadership experience such as volunteer work or participation in a professional association could be the perfect fit for your company due to their commitment to learning and self-improvement. Outside experience further shows drive and motivation from the Candidate; it acts as veritable proof of their passion for this particular profession. Remember, you don’t want an assistant whose hand you will have to hold should they need training on a particular programme: you want to hire a PA who is self-sufficient and driven to succeed.

A proven track record for reliability

An outstanding administrative assistant can be a company’s secret weapon. However, they won’t be of much use if you can’t count on them to adhere to an issue at a moment’s notice. If a Candidate’s CV has piqued your interest, you might want to dig deeper by browsing through their LinkedIn profile. Here, you may find recommendations from former managers or colleagues which can provide invaluable insight into the kind of worker they are: punctual? Great with deadlines? Organised? This will give a particular applicant an advantage over their competition.

A natural flair for communication

As a representative of your company and often the first voice a caller or visitor is greeted with, your personal assistant should be an expert at easing tension and making people feel comfortable, welcome and understood. The best personal assistants have mastered the art of remaining polite when faced with mounting pressure; they are able to balance a calm and courteous attitude with assertiveness should the situation demand it. When it comes to written communication, the ideal Candidate must be able to transfer information in a clear and timely manner with no fluff, jargon or room for confusion. Fortunately, the CV, cover letter and introductory email sent by a Candidate can be the perfect piece of evidence upon which to determine their skills in communication. If, having read through their resume, you’re still uncertain of the value they will add to the company - they haven’t done a good job in communicating their expertise. If their cover letter and CV combined give you a clear picture of their skill level, experience and motivation for making the application, bring them in: clear communication is the cornerstone of successful business relationships, something your PA will play a pivotal role in following their recruitment.

What skills do you look for, in an Admin/PA Candidate? Get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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