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Personal-Assistant-Tips Newsletter

 

SEPTEMBER 2014


 
HOW TO CAREFULLY ASSESS THE SUITABILITY OF YOUR NEXT PA ROLE 

"Is the Job a Good Fit for You?"

Most PAs have hated their job at some time or another in their career.  Reasons given for hating a job are wide and varied but an overbearing boss, a bullying co-worker and a mind-numbingly boring job rank highly on the list. Some PAs resign from a great job because of people problems, while others endure an intolerable situation for the sake of a regular salary. 

People problems can arise suddenly in a previously relaxed environment as a result of a company merger, a new boss or even changes in working arrangements, such as part-time working.  All of these factors are variables that cannot be controlled.  Due to the nature of the PA role, if a PA’s relationship with their boss has irreconcilably broken down, the PA has no option but to look for another job. 

On the positive side, looking for another job presents an opportunity to consciously assess a new working environment.  Asking the kind of questions at the interview that drill down to the core of the issues will allow PAs to determine the probability of things going wrong. The following questions are essential for your list.


IMPORTANT QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR PREDECESSOR

Find out how long the previous PA was in the job. Use this question to get an explanation for why she/he left the job.  Be alert to suspiciously short employment durations and press the interviewer to get as much information as possible about his/her relationship with the previous PA. 

If the previous jobholder left after a short period of time, try to find out how long her/his predecessor was in the role.  If they were both in the role for a short time, chances are you will be too, for two reasons: 1) the boss is possibly a difficult person to work with, and 2) if they were both incompetent you will have to sort out the mess they left behind, which might be an impossible task with an impossible deadline. This could lead to your resignation or even dismissal.  It is unlikely that the PA that just left was able to sort out the mess left by her/his predecessor, otherwise, she/he would probably still be in the job. Consider that a red flag. 

You should also be alert to possible issues if temporary PAs have been covering the role for more than three months, particularly if the job pays well. 


UNDERSTAND THE BOSS’S WORK STYLE 

Try to find out if the boss is a hands-off kind of boss or if he/she has a micro-managing (inspects everything you do) work style.  If you have just left a job because you were worn down and undermined by a micro-manager, would you choose to work for another micro-manager?  If you like to get on with things, make decisions for yourself and enjoy a certain amount of autonomy, a micro-managing boss could quickly become tiresome and overbearing. 

On the other hand, if you think the job would be a challenge, given your skills-set, and you are unsure about your ability to quickly learn new systems discussed at the interview, you will probably need a boss that is not too busy to initially oversee what you are doing and offer guidance.  If you suspect that you will be completely abandoned to get on with the job on your own, then you could be setting yourself up for failure – consider that a red flag.


ASSESS THE DEPARTMENTAL CULTURE

“Corporate culture” is like the family you marry into so it pays to know what you will have to put up with.  Try to determine and assess the corporate and departmental culture.  Departments and companies are often made up of similar types of people, because people who are comfortable in their environment tend to stay on. Those who don’t fit in tend to move on eventually.  A good way to draw out information about the company's culture is to ask what kind of employees generally do well in that company/department.  Are they go-getters, workaholics, or laid-back (unambitious) types?  The answer to this question should give you some insight into your boss’s preferred culture, particularly if he has been the main hiring manager for some time.

IS THE ROLE RIGHT FOR YOU?

Study the job description carefully. Did you miss the part that suggests sixty per cent of the job is diary management?  Asking the right questions at the interview will help you to determine if your suspicions are accurate.  If you consider any amount of diary management to be exasperating, then the job clearly is not a fit for you.  Accepting the job would, at the very least, lead to boredom.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!

No matter how good the money is, try not to accept a job simply because of money.  Use the suggestions above to determine if the job is worth your while, otherwise, you could be living from “pay day” to “pay day” because that is the only thing you like about the job.  If money is your sole objective, it may appear to be a fair trade, but for how long?  Perhaps the money is exceptionally good because the boss, the working environment or the role is intolerable. 

Finally, always remember that an interview is your chance to fully assess a prospective employer, so prepare well and use the opportunity wisely. If you still decide to take the job, given all the above issues, you will be walking into the job with your eyes wide open.


Written by: Marguerita King, Personal-Assistant-Tips
 

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SOME FINAL REMINDERS FOR
ARRANGING BUSINESS TRAVEL
  • Have you specified late arrival to the hotel?
  • Have you negotiated late check-out from the hotel?
  • Have you booked an extra night’s stay for very late check-out travellers?
  • Have you sent traveller’s flight details to the hotel?
  • Have you sent copies of the traveller’s itinerary to colleagues on the same trip, as appropriate?
  • Have you notified the hotel about last minute cancellations in time to avoid cancellation charges?
  • Have you notified the ground transportation company about cancellations/changes in the traveller's schedule?

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