This is a question we are often asked! The thought of working as a Private PA is an attractive proposition for both experienced PAs as well as junior PAs. You may be enticed by the thought of working for a high net-worth individual, perhaps even a celebrity, travelling with them around the world or working from their own home, or working 1:1 with the Chairman of a top company looking after all his personal needs.
Before I answer the question, we need to be clear on what a “Private PA” actually is. Is it a PA who works from an office and only handles the private affairs of an individual? Or is it restricted to those positions working from someone’s home, doing everything from their accounting to overseeing their household staff?
Some believe the latter is the only accurate meaning of a true “Private PA” although I beg to differ and would suggest that both should be included in the definition. We are often briefed on private roles where the job content is the same and it is irrelevant where you are based. If the role is office based, then there tends to be quite a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to the individual’s residence in any case. As with any PA role, and actually even more so, the role of a Private PA can be extremely varied where no two days are the same, one day you may be planning a business trip overseas, the next acting as the family nanny.
So, how do you find a Private PA role?
The key is experience. Many employers in the private space feel more comfortable if their PA has done a similar role previously. I guess there are greater issues of trust and also some of the responsibilities can be very different from the usual PA duties. For instance if someone has managed household staff before then this is going to be an advantage. If someone has experience of dealing with yacht charter companies and this is part of the role, then box ticked.
In short it is a lot easier to find a Private PA Job if you are already in one, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible to make the transition from Professional to Private PA. Many candidates are looking for a Private PA role but don’t have the experience, so what do you do if you are in that position?
The best bit of advice I can give is to consider your move to becoming a Private PA as a two-step process. In other words, you need to find a new job which is going to give you the 1:1 or private experience, or both that you need.
It is unlikely that you’ll be able to move into such a role in your current company so you need to find a position probably working for one of the most senior individuals in a company where you are providing 1:1 support and at least 25% of the role is providing support on the personal side. You need to make very sure that the personal work is there and challenge the agency/ employer on this in interview.
You need to check what “private” duties will be in the role, clearly the more household and lifestyle responsibilities the better. You may also want to check what the chances are of developing the private side are. As mentioned previously, your employer will need to trust you enormously, given that you could be the person running their life and have access to all their personal information, therefore they may need time to get to know you before they can hand over great responsibility.
This “interim” move if you like should be for a minimum of 18 months to build up good solid private experience. You’ll then be in a position to apply for private roles, with experience on your CV.
Of course there will be occasions when Private PAs are taken on without experience, but from what I have seen this is quite rare. I hope the above is helpful if you should not be one of the chosen few, and that you can use this advice to progress your career.”