Personal Assistant Tips: Survival Techniques for the Job

You’ve worked yourself to the bone getting the job and they finally hired you.  Now what?  It’s time for the adventure to begin.  As hard as it was to get the job, it’s even harder to keep the job because so many things can go wrong.
Here’s how it works:  when things go wrong, the personal assistant takes the blame (even if it’s not their fault).  When something goes right because of your efforts, someone else takes the credit.  Welcome to the unfair world of the personal assistant!


Each day is going to bring new challenges and will test your patience.  Here is another list of things you can do to make your life easier.  Again, some points are recaps, others are new:

    • Plan your daily tasks in order of importance.
    • Have back-up plans with contingencies built in.
    • Always over prepare in case something goes wrong.
    • Always have a full tank of gas so you won’t be suddenly stranded.
    • Always have extra food, like energy bars, in your car for the busy days.<
    • Always have extra clothes for you and your boss in your car.  You never know when someone is going to spill something on a shirt on the way to a meeting.
    • Never try to be a friend to your boss.  Be friendly, but keep it professional.
    • Stay fit by exercising regularly.  This will give you more energy and keep you sharp for the job.  It will also help reduce stress.
    • Always have extra cash, bills and coins, hidden in your car in case you lose your wallet and you’re stranded.
    • Keep an extra key to your car (in one of those magnetic cases) hidden in case you lock yourself out of your car.  AAA can take up to one hour to come save you.  Perhaps you won’t have that kind of spare time, usually not.  Also, keep 3 numbers to local taxi companies programmed in your phone.  If your car breaks down and you have a deadline, call all the companies to see who arrives first.
    • On days you have a very important task, make sure you have a friend handy in case you need help meeting a deadline.  Never wait until it’s too late to get help.
    • Get additional training.  Go to your local community college or university and take a typing or computer class if you need to.  One can never know MS Office too well.  There is a very good chance that you don’t know all the features to programs you use every day.  Knowing how everything works will make your life easier.  It may actually get you the job.  Most employment agencies are going to sit you in front of a computer and give you difficult tasks to accomplish, all while being timed.  If you don’t know the functions of MS Office Suite, you could be blowing it for yourself.
    • Know where the private jet landing strips are in your area.  If you don’t know about all the different models of charter jets, find out so that you can be proficient when you do have to do it for real.
    • Learn as much about your boss’ business as possible.  If you want to move up, you don’t want to be left behind by someone who may outshine you.
    • Keep very accurate records if you have to spend your own money for business related expenses.  Make sure you submit your receipts sooner than later.  Try to ask for spending money ahead of time so that you don’t have to use your own cash.  I’ve seen assistants lose their jobs and never recover hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices.  As you are probably aware from news stories, some high profile assistants have sued their former celebrity employers for unpaid wages.
    • When you’re in a jam and either decision has some negative consequences, always pick the lesser of two evils and do damage control later.
    • If there is bad news to be delivered to your boss, don’t procrastinate.  Tell them right away before they find out about it through someone else or on the news.