Where to find a personal assistant
Where to find a personal assistant can cause a heated office debate. Should you advertise in the local press, look on social media or use an agent, such as ourselves? This is when we hear you say, of course you’re going to promote using an agency. Well yes, we believe in using an expert in the same way that you would use a qualified electrician to rewire your house.
However, I have an admission to make. Before joining 14fiftyseven, I was a business owner who employed staff and had never had a positive experience of working with recruitment agencies. Many seemed not to listen to the brief and would just treat us and the candidate as a means to achieving their all-important targets and KPIs. While I understand the need to make money and cover overheads, I would hate our clients to feel that was all we cared about.
Yes, our staff are incentivised but it’s not all about the commission, which is why our client/candidate retention rate is so high. Any good business owner should reward their teams accordingly, whatever the line of business. All our team members are trained in the art of developing long-term meaningful business relationships, not simply looking for a fast buck.
We are also fortunate to be part of a global operation, Progressive Personnel Ltd. With our partner company Progressive Travel Recruitment operating all over the world, we share business practises, candidates and clients, affording us a wealth of experience across a broad range of industries.
Ask an expert
Specialist agencies know the market they work in inside out – from going rates, good working practises, the best (and worst) companies, to how to spot talent in candidates. They have a sixth sense about who would fit which role, as well as well-honed client and candidate management skills.
Take looking for where to find a personal assistant. What does this role even mean? The truth is that it’s vastly different in different companies and households. For many, the word personal assistant conjures up a Miss Moneypenny figure, for others the poor PA in the Devil Wears Prada comes to mind, and in modern start-up companies a Personal Assistant could be working across home and office. This PA etiquette guide on HuffPost might apply to a corporate PA. Depending on the employer, a PA could be doing everything from tea-making to helping formulate presentations and travelling abroad with their boss.
A different perspective
So where one agency will simply approach the problem of where to find a personal assistant by slotting any old candidate into the role, we delve deeper. When we start to engage with our clients about their vacancy, we ask pertinent questions to understand their exact requirements. Asking a potential client where they like to eat, about their favourite holiday destination and what their office dress code is may seem irrelevant, but in fact the answers can reveal a great deal about the employer’s preferences.
We ask our PA candidates the same questions, plus many others of course. Further down the line, knowing the answers to these questions can assist with managing expectations. If the candidate has come from a strict corporate regime and is applying for a job where ping pong and bean bags are part of the office environment, they want to be prepared, and don’t want to turn up in formal attire for their interview.
As a household recruitment agency we take our duty of care to our clients very seriously. Delivering a service that exceeds expectations is vital to both employer and employee. Personal Assistant covers such a diverse skill set – so we make sure we know where to find a personal assistant that suits each particular client. One minute a PA might be a typist, the next a sandwich maker, then meeting and greeting, you know the score. But what do they do when asked to pick up the dog food or find a caterer for their boss’s mothers 70th birthday bash. Some PAs will say it’s not in their job description and flatly refuse to do certain tasks. But, we value flexibility. If you are walking past the pet store is it such a big ask? Of course, there are boundaries and they must be respected. But for us, finding a personal assistant that uses their initiative, pre-empts needs, delivers solutions, goes the extra mile and enhances productivity, has to be a good thing.
Because we specialise in flexible staff, we sometimes refer to our PAs as Lifestyle Managers because they deliver solutions to enhance your lifestyle, often across home and office. When considering where to find a personal assistant, think about the quality of the candidates you’ll get, rather than concentrating on how to save money. It’s probable that one excellent PA will save you money, time, energy and effort in the long run.
Hopefully if you have read this through to the end and not clicked away at the mention of a PA recruitment agency, you have come to realise that using a specialist recruitment agency to hire a personal assistant will add value to your HR processes. I am now a convert and, trust me, before using them I had a lot to say as to why nobody should. It isn’t difficult to meet and exceed client and candidate expectations. If you operate with a strict code of ethics, listen and empathise, your clients will keep returning, as ours do.
Susie Osborough, Director
14fiftyseven. Because we’ve been there.