We interview many candidates on a daily basis who want to be a Private PA. Our answer is always the same, it is not that simple! I hope this piece helps you in your quest, if it is truly what you want to do!
Myths and Rumours
There is this idea that Private PAs lead a glamorous lifestyle; jetting off to the South of France in the Summer, staying in a stunning hotel or on board your Boss’s yacht. Yes, occasionally these roles do come in, but the norm is very different and you’ll find many Private PAs who will tell you their position is lonely, isolated and very admin heavy.
I guess what I am trying to say is sometimes the Private PA role is not always what it’s cracked up to be. So really think hard whether this is the route you want to go. Nina Hind, one of our top EAs wrote a fabulous piece on “A Day in the life of a Private PA”.
What is the secret?
Ok, so you want to become a Private PA! The easiest way to land a Private PA job is if you already are one. If you are not, then the next best thing is to build up Private PA experience. If you are currently not in a role where there is this scope, then you need to move to a “halfway house position” where at least 20% of your PA role revolves around the private side.
Typically, you’ll find that most hybrid PA roles (i.e. those incorporating a split between business and personal) are 1:1 positions providing support at board level. Understandably it is those that have “made it” that tend to have the lifestyle that warrants Private PA support.
It is very difficult to find a Private PA role without previous experience, so the above is the recommended course of action.
Are there any other courses of action I can take?
Yes, but before I go into further detail, it is important to differentiate between the different people who require a private PA. Below are the most common categories:
- Successful Businessman
There is clearly some crossover between these categories. However, the point is that not all Clients will be looking for previous private PA experience from a corporate Business Environment. A Celebrity might prefer someone with a TV background, who is used to travelling, dealing with important people in the creative industry and logistically strong within their sector. Such an individual may not require Private experience. Equally, a Fashion Mogul may require someone with strong credentials from the Fashion industry – someone able to organise shows etc might be perceived as far more relevant experience than someone from a non-Fashion background.
By the same token, an UHNWI may be happy to look at someone who had worked on yachts or managed a chalet because that type of private experience is more relevant to them.
There are many ways to skin a cat, so my suggestion is to work out what type of individual you want to support and then tailor your experience accordingly, or even better let the experience you already have dictate the type of individual you support and the further experience you need to build up to land the job.
What impact will becoming a Private PA have on your career?
As long as you have made a conscious decision that the Private PA route is the one you want to follow long-term, then this is going to be a good move for you. That said, if you one day wish to return to the Business PA World, then this move could have implications, particularly if you work in the Private PA World for 5 years.
Simply, the longer you are a Private PA, the harder you will find it to return to a purely business PA role because Employers will be concerned about hoe committed you are to change tack and as importantly how you’ll react to the change in pace from private to business.
It seems strange that it is so difficult to become a Private PA and then it becomes so difficult to then become a business PA. Unfortunately that is the way it is so another reason to really think carefully about your career choices.
What salary should I expect to be paid?
This varies enormously and whilst most Private PA roles tend to be targeted towards those candidates with a good length of experience, we have seen employers look for suitable candidates with 1-3 years previous experience. These positions tend to come in at the £28-35k range. The senior Private PA roles pay anywhere from £40-100k in today’s market. This depends on who the role is working for, where it is based and how many hours in the week you are working. For instance, some employers expect their PA support to work 24:7. Understandably there needs to be some level of compensation for this.
Equally, some Boss’ can be extremely demanding, whether this is through workload or the way they interact with their PA. This again can lead to higher salaries. N.B. this is often because the person you are supporting is working under high pressure and has exacting standards and expectations.
To conclude, the Private PA role can be a fantastic career choice, but it is not for everyone. Really think carefully about whether this is the right career choice for you and the implications for moving into the industry. If you decide to follow this route, then don’t expect to suddenly land your perfect job, use the tips above to help you structure your CV and experience to make your CV as appealing as possible to prospective employers.
Take a look at the Private PA section of our website too for further information and have a look at the job section of the website to see if we are working on something suitable for you at the moment.