For example, a businessman or businesswoman may have a personal assistant to help with correspondence and run errands. The title of a business personal assistant is often shortened as "PA". There are also personal assistants who work specifically for disabled people, and whose salaries are paid by social services. Families in which both parents work may also employ personal assistants, often referred to as household managers. The role of a personal assistant can be very varied.
Business PA job duties can range from menial tasks such as picking up the dry cleaning to more important tasks such as attending contract negotiations, briefing journalists on which questions can and can not be asked during interviews, travelling etc. A PA is their employer's "go to" person. The position normally covers a variety of positions. They are receptionists, administrative assistants, runners, managers, publicists, agents etc. The job has a wide range of requirements and can often be extremely demanding as employers normally expect their assistants to be there whenever they need them. An older term for a PA was a "Girl Friday" or a "Man Friday".
To do their jobs well, all personal assistants must apply excellent organizational skills, tact, diplomacy, effective communication skills, maintain confidentiality in sensitive matters, and display excellent judgement. These are the same "soft" skills required for many other professional roles, such as middle management, public relations, and high-level administrative assistance. The best personal assistants have the ability to anticipate their employer's needs and take care of them before they are asked to do so.
A personal assistant can help a disabled person in many ways. A personal assistant may for example read text in leaflets and notices for the visually impaired, type documents on the computer when a disabled person is not able to use their hands, and assist a wheelchair user into a bus. Our surrounding environment is often still built in such way that lots of things accessible to the rest of us would be inaccessible to a disabled person without the help of a personal assistant. The social aspect of the job is also important.
People who cannot afford to hire their own personal assistant to run errands or answer phone calls full-time can hire a concierge company or a part-time assistant. Most companies offer secretarial personal assistance as well as basic assistant services like research, scheduling, travel arrangements, and more. Costs of a part-time employee can end up exceeding how much it would have cost to hire a full time employee. Other companies charge a flat monthly fee for personal assistant services, based upon the number of requests you think you will place each month. In addition to the personal assistant services that are provided with the membership, other incentives such as local discounts, concierge services, dining recommendations and overall knowledge and expertise may even outperform the skills of a regular personal assistant staff member.
Smaller companies, especially start-up and real estate development companies, may desire the services of a Personal Assistant to "manage" an individual executive or to assist in the office as the new company goes about setting up their new business. These Personal Assistants may develop great skills at the "birth" of a new company and have opportunities for advancement. Other Personal Assistants will have garnered incredible knowledge and experience if they choose to move into other positions.