- exceptional written and oral communication skills;
- excellent word processing and IT skills, including knowledge of a range of software packages;
- ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines;
- good organisational and time management skills;
- ability to research, digest, analyse and present material clearly and concisely;
- excellent interpersonal skills;
- ability to work on your own initiative;
- honesty and reliability;
- attention to detail;
- flexibility and adaptability to juggle a range of different tasks and to work extra hours to meet deadlines;
- discretion and an understanding of confidentiality issues.
Although this area of work is open to all graduates and those with a HND, a degree in business or management may increase your chances. Some subjects are more relevant for certain industries, e.g. English literature for publishing; law for legal work.
For HND holders, the following subjects may increase your chances:
- secretarial studies;
Entry without a degree or HND/foundation degree is possible as personal qualities, experience and general office skills are generally considered more important.
GCSE English and mathematics (or equivalent) are standard entry requirements for many positions. A qualification in IT may also be required.
Most positions will require a minimum of two years’ relevant experience, which will generally have been gained in a more junior secretarial or administrative role. Working as a temp, either during or after your studies, can provide the opportunity to acquire office experience and develop higher-level secretarial skills. Many personal assistants (PAs) will have worked their way up from office junior and general secretarial roles.
To work as a PA, you should have proven experience of administrative work, such as:
- office administrator,
- office manager.