Why Asking for Feedback After an Interview Is a Bad Idea

Focus on what you can control in job interviews and don’t worry about feedback

If executive personal assistants are applying to work for a high net worth individual, billionaire or celebrity, then they are inevitably going to be confronted with disappointment when they don’t get the dream job. The first knee-jerk reaction is to ask for feedback because they want to know what went wrong. Taking such a stance is pointless and even counterproductive. While some recruiters and headhunters may feel it’s OK to solicit for feedback, here are my reasons for being against it:

 

The statistics are against you: Mathematically speaking, open positions with the one-percent are in very high demand. Candidates that apply for any position (estate manager, PA, social secretary, etc.) are going to be up against world-class competitors – most of which are more experienced. It’s not uncommon for industry leaders and Fortune 500 executives to get hundreds or even thousands of applications for open jobs, so the chances are simply against you. Don’t worry, the employer probably didn’t feel a “connection” (professionally speaking), even if you were qualified for the job.

 

Employers aren’t going to be truthful: Even if someone does give you feedback, they’re not going to be completely honest anyway. Because of human resource managers that enforce company policies (and other miscellaneous employment laws), the information that flows out of companies about job applicants is very washed-out. There are dozens of (negative) reasons they may not have liked you, but they’re not going to admit it. Maybe your interviewing skills aren’t up to par, or perhaps they thought you weren’t well-groomed. In the end, there are a number of unspoken qualifications they are looking for that simply are not listed in the job description (fair or not, that’s the world we live in).

 

It’s in the eye of the beholder: Even if you could get the employer to be 100% honest with you about why you were rejected, it should be taken with a grain of salt. What one employer may not like may be perfect for someone else. Your focus should be to keep moving forward and put the past behind you. If you really want unfiltered information about why you’re not scoring jobs, then you should speak with a career coach because, ultimately, they have no stake in the game and will give you honest feedback from a third-eye perspective.

 


How to Create a Healthy Work Environment

Personal assistants can be difference makers at work

When working for celebrities, high net worth families and billionaires, executive personal assistants have enough pressure as it is – so they don’t need to be working in a toxic environment that will add even more stress to their burden. In the world of the super-rich, it’s common for the staff to be living in fear and never knowing if it will be their last day at work. If you’re working in such an environment, you can turn the tides by being a leader and eventually your positive energy will be contagious.

 

Don’t adopt the sycophant (“yes-man”) mentality: If people at your private office are living in a perpetual state of fear, then it’s likely there is a lot of back-biting in your organization. This “Emperor’s New Clothes” mentality breeds contempt and you want to stay away from it. Set a positive example and be the one that everyone can count on to save the day. Positive people are a breath of fresh air in environments that need a turnaround.

 

The glass should always be half full: Of course the work as a personal assistant is sometimes grueling, but that’s why you were hired for the job – because you can take it. But don’t let it get the best of you. Stay optimistic and take little breathers in-between your accomplished tasks (to-do list). Even if it’s just for five minutes, step outside for a quick walk to re-focus yourself. Studies show that if you unplug yourself for a short time, then in the long-run you’re going to be more productive.

 

Don’t enable the complainers: Sometimes the path of least resistance is just to appease the domestic staff by agreeing with them (or at least not disagreeing) when they complain about working conditions. The problem with this is that you will perpetuate the complacency and apathy. If there are any OSHA violations, then of course it must be addressed immediately. But, in many cases, it’s just a case of pessimism. So, in that case, try to inject some perspective into the situation by pointing out all of the positives about the job.

 


When You Should (Not) Quit Over Your Salary Dispute

Working hard isn’t grounds for a raise

As sure as the sun rises and sets each day, it’s inevitable that I will get a daily email from an executive/personal assistant somewhere in the world wanting to know if they should quit their job because they “aren’t getting paid enough”.

 

I can say with confidence that nearly everyone on Earth feels like they’re not getting paid enough, regardless of their position. I know assistants that are making $200,000, and they’re utterly convinced that they are underpaid.

 

What does your contract say?
Don’t get emotional and just quit your job in protest. Look at your contract. What does it say? If you’re supposed to work 40 hours a week but you’re working double that, then you do have a legitimate gripe. But most executive personal assistant positions to celebrities, high net worth families and billionaires are going to be salary positions, and you’re going to have to work overtime without getting extra. That’s life. Your contract must specify when you’re supposed to get extra money (like for leaving town or working extended hours, for example).

 

What’s the market rate for your position?
Some personal assistants just randomly pull a six-figure number out of their hat without any consideration of what the market rate is for their position. In order to command a fantastic (above-average) salary, then you need to be able to back up your claim. Executive assistants in the $150,000 range, for example, will usually have at least 10 years of experience to high-profile individuals, have a relevant BA or MA (related to their employer’s field), and possess specialized skills that are hard to find (phenomenal dictation ability or special certification like six sigma).

 

Prove your worth and ask for a raise
Your boss isn’t going to let you hold them hostage. Just because you threaten to quit (politely or not) doesn’t mean they’re going to bow down to your command and give in. You need to weigh all the facts, and take into consideration that we are in the down-market because employers get a lot more bang-for-their-buck these days. The market is over-saturated with quality candidates, so this is the “new normal”. If you can prove your worth to your employer and present a case that you should be getting more, then you have a much better chance of getting a pay raise. And, finally, NEVER quit your current job unless you have a solid job offer (in writing) on the table from another company.

 


Why 110% At Work Isn’t Good Enough (If you’re doing the wrong thing)

Stop wasting energy: focus on what you can control

It sounds so cliché but the old adage is still true: work smarter, not harder. So many personal assistants find themselves completely burned out because they are always giving 110%, but sometimes it’s not good enough – that’s if you’re putting your energy in the wrong place. Here are some lessons to maximize your time when working for CEOs, celebrities or high net worth families:

 

Focus on what you can actually control: An executive assistant’s work is never done. If you go home every night feeling troubled because you left some unfinished business, then you should reevaluate your priorities and to-do list. Don’t spend so much time focusing your energy on problems you can’t actually solve.

 

Being busy isn’t the same as working. An assistant is paid for results, not effort. Let’s look at this analogy: Suppose your niece or nephew is at your house doing some chores, and their first task is to clear some grass from an area you designated so that you can plant some flowers. Three hours go by and then your nephew steps inside – covered with dirt, sweat and gasping for breath. Yes, they’ve been working so hard and you can see that. Then you go outside to look at the finished work. Oops! They dug a hole in the wrong place. This is the perfect analogy for executive personal assistants. Don’t be busy doing the wrong thing and focus your energy on getting results that will meet your employer’s needs.

 

Going “full blast” all the time: Don’t be on full blast all the time. If you do that, you’re going to get burned out. Many personal assistants operate in fear of being fired, so they want to impress they employer by showing they’re hard at work. Instead, know when it’s time to turn the volume up to 11 and save your extra energy for the times you will really need it.

 

Be proactive, not reactive: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be a forward thinker and head problems off at the pass. Instead of spending so much time on damage control, focus your energy on preventing problems at work. This is especially helpful if you’re working for celebrities or billionaires because there’s no such thing as a small mistake. It can cost a person or company big.

 


The Raw Truth: Why Some Employers Will Never Get Their Ideal Candidate

Companies often sabotage their chances of getting the best of the best candidates

When it comes to finding the ideal personal assistant, employers need to be realistic when it comes to their expectations. Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get the most for your money, but there’s a fine line to walk when it comes to being too thrifty or unrealistic. Time and again, some high net worth and celebrity employers put themselves on an unofficial blacklist with candidates and recruiters alike.

 

Eccentric behavior is one of the most common causes when it comes to lack of interest. If you’ve been burning through candidates and are having trouble finding talent for your organization, then perhaps it’s time to evaluate the culture in your company. Even if you’re paying top-dollar for personal assistants and simply can’t attract or retain them, then it’s a sure-fire sign there’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

 

Bargain basement job offers are a death sentence when it comes to finding and keeping top-tier personal assistants. Even billionaires on the Forbes top 100 list are guilty of this no-no. Some employers put too much stock in “gaining valuable experience” and offer candidates ultra-low salaries in exchange for a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. Reality check: even if you’re a billionaire, it’s not a once in a lifetime opportunity because there are 1,500 other billionaires in the world offering the same opportunity.

 

Lightning in a bottle syndrome is all too common when searching for the “perfect” executive assistant. Employers should focus on quantifiable job skills instead of having a laundry list of expectations that have nothing to do with the position. If your checklist is too long, then essentially there will only be a handful of candidates in the world that will fit the bill and you won’t have any interest (even if you’re offering a phenomenal, above-average compensation package).

 

Looking for a supermodel instead of an assistant is the fastest way to get your company blacklisted in the EA/PA community. No matter how sly and sophisticated you go about it, world-class assistants know immediately when “looks” are too much of a consideration. Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting a professional-looking candidate, but if it’s a “companion” you’re seeking, then there are agencies that specialize in obtaining one for you. Don’t use a legitimate headhunter to recruit a beauty queen.

 

Bad, immature or diva-like behavior: If you value your reputation, don’t let yourself get out of control. If you are condescending, abusive or throwing temper tantrums at work, then not only are you opening yourself up to lawsuits, but it will be impossible to attract top-tier personal assistants.

 

A bad job description: Even if you’re not guilty of any of the aforementioned situations, not having a good job description is a killer. An experienced executive assistant who has served celebrities and Forbes list billionaires isn’t going to leave a tenured position for your job if you don’t know what you want. Not having a thorough JD (or not having one at all) is often a sign that the VIP is actually looking for something else instead of an assistant.

 


Assistant Resources

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