How to Hire a Personal Assistant
It’s 11 a.m. and you’re working from home. You have a meeting in 15 minutes, a plumber coming to fix your bathroom sink, and an important email to fire off — and all you’re thinking about is how you can’t concentrate because you ran out of coffee and don’t have time to go to the store.
Just imagine how much easier life would be if you could flag down a personal assistant to manage a few of these tasks.
In the modern workplace, the concept might seem foreign, but it’s something that many people actually do. This post covers what a personal assistant is and why hiring one could be the best move you make in your professional career.
What is a Personal Assistant?
A personal or administrative assistant is someone you hire on a part-time or full-time basis to help you complete tasks throughout the day. For example, a personal assistant can take care of administrative tasks like scheduling calls, setting up meetings, and event planning. A personal assistant can also handle personal errands, such as grocery shopping.
Alternatively, this person can take on higher-level responsibilities — serving as an extension of yourself, or as an executive assistant.
It all depends on what you need help with.
Why You Need a Personal Assistant
1. Your time is valuable
The higher you progress in your career, the more valuable your time becomes.
Think of it this way: Top-earning executives are paid to make just a few decisions over the course of a day, but those decisions can impact the entire trajectory of a company.
The more time you spend getting tripped up on tasks that are unrelated to your personal or professional development, the further you stray from your goals.
By hiring a personal assistant, you can reclaim a few precious hours into your schedule.
2. Too many tasks is draining
Even if you do have time for administrative tasks like bookkeeping or making travel arrangements, is that really how you want to focus your energy?
A simple errand like dropping off your dry cleaning or taking your car for an oil change distracts you from what’s most important. And as a result, those distractions can cause stress and reduce the potential value that you achieve in whatever project you’re working on.
3. Two eyes are better than one
An assistant can offer a unique perspective or advice that you might not otherwise pick up on.
For example, suppose a client comes to you with a problem and you don’t know what to do. With a personal assistant, you can talk over the problem and determine an appropriate course of action as a team.
You may even be able to hire someone who has also been a business owner and has many years of experience in your field.
4. Become a better manager
Oftentimes, the most talented professionals tend to make the worst managers.
There’s a big difference between excelling in a particular line of work and being able to motivate others to work as a team. That’s because managing takes a lot of patience and stellar communication skills. Many people are just bad at it.
Hiring a personal assistant can be a great foray into management because you can gain experience from delegating work and managing progress.
5. Levelling up
One of the best parts about hiring a personal assistant is that you’re advancing yourself professionally.
Little things that used to trip you up — like missed deadlines or payments — become a thing of the past because someone else is taking care of them for you. Your work output and personal relationships are most likely also going to improve as a result.
At the same time, you’ll be directly helping someone else in their career, giving them an opportunity to make money and further their goals. So there’s also a pay-it-forward aspect that you can feel good about.
Tips for Hiring a Personal Assistant
Have a formal interview
The personal assistant hiring process may feel awkward at first. However, it’s important to have a formal interview. If you want to attract top talent, approach the task professionally, like you would at any business.
Remember that the first interaction is critical for establishing mutual respect and understanding. If you’re paying someone for a job, they need to act professionally, too. This person is not your friend — they are a potential employee and should be treated as such.
Make sure it’s someone you can trust
Spend some time vetting the individual before you hire them. Ask to run a background check, and for references. Check out LinkedIn to get a sense of their past work history.
This is especially important if you’re going to be trusting this individual to manage sensitive accounts or data. If possible, hire someone based on a recommendation from a business colleague instead of bringing a stranger into the fold.
Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who apply to personal assistant or virtual assistant roles for nefarious purposes like information or financial theft.
Be clear about the personal assistant job description
Before you go about hiring someone for a personal assistant role, spend some time outlining a formal job description.
Make a list of roles and responsibilities, and have a general idea of what a typical work week will look like for this person. The last thing you want is for someone to show up on the first day of work with nothing to do. This can make for a stressful situation, or send the impression that you either don’t know what you’re doing or are unprofessional.
Remember that to succeed in entrepreneurship, you need to maintain the image that you are serious about your profession and someone who is dedicated to his or her job. Otherwise, you could frighten away both potential employees and clients.
Consult with an attorney
If you hire someone to work for you, it’s a good idea to consult with a local attorney to protect yourself. An attorney will be able to recommend specific actions you should take to avoid getting sued or taken advantage of by an employee. It’s also a good idea to understand local employment laws so that you don’t miss filing important paperwork.
In addition, you should consult with a financial advisor to clarify if your personal assistant expenses qualify for a small business tax write-off.
So long as you do your due diligence before hiring someone, you should be able to avoid any confusion or legal issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are personal assistants risky?
Personal assistants can be risky if you hire someone you don’t know or have never worked with.
At the same time, you should be cautious about bringing on a friend or personal connection to work as your personal assistant.
Just because you like someone or they have a particular skill set that interests you does not automatically guarantee they are easy to work with. People tend to act differently in professional settings than they do outside of work, which can lead to annoying conflicts.
In most cases, it’s a better move to hire someone you don’t know that meets your hiring criteria (e.g., passing a background check, having a solid work history, and strong professional references).
Is a personal assistant right for me?
To be clear, personal assistants aren’t for everyone, and it’s a good idea to make sure you’re pursuing one for the right reasons.
First and foremost, you need to have enough income rolling in to pay this person decent hourly rates. If you’re already having trouble paying the bills, then hiring a personal assistant could add considerable financial stress.
In addition to having a healthy cash flow, you should have a genuine need for a personal assistant. In other words, you should be overloaded with work and unable to keep up with everything you’re doing on a daily basis.
If you’re sitting around on social media all day, or are simply not busy, then it doesn’t make any sense. Make sure they have work to do or a role to fill — and that you’re not just seeking companionship because you’re bored or lonely.
Can I have more than one personal assistant?
Yes. There is no limit to how many personal assistants you can have, other than your budget.
For example, you may choose to have a personal assistant to oversee family matters or household management while you work during the day. At the same time, you may have a personal assistant who deals solely with your job, or with project management.
To start, determine the area of your life where you need the most assistance and build from there. If you can find one person that’s good at multitasking both your personal and work responsibilities, that’s probably your best bet.
What should I ask when interviewing a personal assistant?
You’re going to want a formal interview process. Form a list of questions, starting with why they’re applying for the job, and what they have been up to lately. Ask for a resume, and have them walk you through it. This way, you can ask new questions that come to mind as you go along.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when hiring is they ask for a resume, and tell the potential hire they will go through it after the interview. Do this on the spot to expedite the vetting process and save time.
Do yourself a favor and skip asking dramatic questions designed to trip the person up or confuse them. Keep the interview to the point and just be yourself. Remember that the person who you are interviewing is also interviewing you, too. If you want that person to accept your offer and take you seriously, show them courtesy.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that hiring a personal assistant can be life-changing. It can improve your personal life and professional endeavors while making you happier and more productive.
Just remember to treat hiring a personal assistant as a formal process. Conduct a serious interview and come to the table with questions. Most importantly, you want to ensure that this person is going to be trustworthy and reliable. If the person that you are interviewing hesitates to provide references, or if you get a funny feeling, you might want to keep looking.
Here’s to getting the help you need as you pursue the good life!