Believe it or not, recruiting quality executive personal assistants in today’s job market has never been more difficult – even taking into consideration that the industry is flooded with candidates. Essentially, this is due to the fundamentally flawed system of recruiting. Because celebrities and billionaires are surrounded by sycophants, nobody will tell them the truth about their hiring methodology, especially employment agencies that are hungry for commissions. Here are a number of reasons why some employers always fail to attract the best applicants:
Hiring multiple employment agencies: It’s common practice for employers to hire a number of employment agencies. Basically, employers put a piece of meat in the middle of a room (the commission) and they let the agents tear each other apart fighting over the commission. This method is detrimental to both the employer’s reputation and their ability to attract the best candidate.
Under this flawed system, the name of the game is “speed”. Headhunters are racing to be the first one to get a resume to the employer for selection. Also, word quickly spreads throughout the assistant community that the employer is clutching at straws trying to find a candidate. When an assistant knows that 50 or 100 other candidates are up for the job, they don’t take the opportunity seriously and will often tell their agent to withdraw them from the race.
Being too rushed to find a candidate: Employer’s often tell recruiters that they are in a big hurry to find a candidate. “The sooner the better” methodology is just about business suicide for executives and celebrities who want the best of the best candidates. World-class assistants are very business savvy and are reluctant to leave an established position for an employer who is in a rush (or one that seems to be unsure about what they want).
Focusing too much on how the candidate looks: There’s nothing wrong with wanting a personal assistant that’s well-groomed and professional-looking. But CEOs and celebrities sometimes obsess on the idea that their PA should be “athletic” or need “model looks”. Employers need to understand the role that headhunters play: to fill the position based on skills listed in the job description, not to find a supermodel or companion.
What employers need to know when hiring a headhunter
Hire the right firm: Retained search firms are, by far, the best way to go when searching for elite executive assistants. The world-class candidates that have worked with celebrities and billionaires know when employers are serious about the process (and when they’re not). Hiring a retained-search firm allows the recruiter to take time in getting to know both the candidates and employer, which puts assistants at ease. Under these circumstances, an executive assistant is usually willing to risk leaving a tenured job to get a better position.
Be realistic about your job description and salary: Thrifty billionaires who want to pay an assistant half of what they are worth because of the “opportunity” and “education” they will receive during their tenure is a formula for disaster. Personal assistants who are attracted to those kinds job offers are minor league players, and PAs who have won a gold medal at the Olympics (metaphorically speaking of course) are going to scoff at those opportunities. In short, those billionaires who offer gigs like that will continue to burn through a new assistant every year.