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How to Hire a Personal Assistant: Process, Cost, and Criteria

Key points

  • Personal assistants typically support senior-level executives in their day-to-day work and handle clerical responsibilities in the corporate world. 
  • The average hourly wage for a U.S.-based personal assistant is about $15. 
  • Some companies turn to outsourcing options to recruit, screen, and hire personal assistant candidates. 
  • Attracting top-quality talent for a personal assistant role will require robust recruiting efforts and an excellent, accurate job description. 
  • Personal assistants can work in a remote, in-person, or hybrid setting.

It’s been another crazy week for you as you’re rushing from appointment to appointment, checking in with team members, overseeing project management, and reviewing budgets. You hardly have time to grab a 30-minute lunch, let alone book an upcoming trip to visit clients or respond to your hundreds of unread emails.

Let’s face it: You need help. And that’s where a personal assistant comes in. Whether you are looking for someone to help you manage correspondence, assist you with scheduling and organizing, cover tasks that you delegate, or simply function as your trusted right-hand man, a personal assistant can be an invaluable asset to both you and your business.

So how do you find the right person? How much should you expect to spend? And what qualifications should you look for while hiring? In this article, we will answer all of those questions and then some so that you are empowered and equipped with the tools to find the personal assistant of your dreams.

What Does a Personal Assistant Do?

A personal assistant is an individual who is hired to complete clerical tasks, particularly for senior-level staff members at an organization. Their main responsibilities will typically include scheduling meetings and conferences, answering phone calls and emails, and booking any required travel arrangements. They may also perform some of the following tasks:

  • Assist with daily time management needs
  • Run errands
  • Manage correspondence via email, phone, or other avenues and record messages 
  • Arrange meetings and oversee calendars
  • Take robust, accurate notes while sitting in on meetings
  • Coordinate speaking engagements or other events
  • Draft letters or emails for review
  • Plan travel from flights to hotels to rental cars or drivers

Ultimately, the exact responsibilities of your personal assistant will be up to you. Once you determine what you need the most help with, you will be able to assign them various tasks.

5 Simple Steps to Hire a Personal Assistant

If you’re looking to hire a personal assistant, you’re probably already insanely busy. That’s why we’ve put together this simple checklist so that you can find all of the information you’ll need to hire a personal assistant in one accessible place. Let’s dive into the process of hiring someone who will make your life so much easier.

Whether you’re a startup founder, the leader of an early-stage company, a small business owner or entrepreneur, or a senior executive at a large business, a personal assistant can revolutionize your day-to-day life. By the time you finish this article, you’ll be ready to take on the task of hiring one. You will know how to write an accurate job description, the right salary to pitch, and the best places to hire without all of the hassle. 

#1: Determine What Areas You Need Assistance With

It’s not enough to simply post a vague job description that’s essentially a cry for help. You need to slow down and spend some time considering what you actually need the most help with. One way to do this is to list the pain points for both yourself and your organization.

For instance, did you recently catch yourself booking a business trip while you were supposed to be watching your daughter’s ballet recital? Did you neglect to use your vacation days because you felt like nobody at work would be able to manage without you? It happens to the best of us – and in the busy corporate world, it’s hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Having a personal assistant to help you with those dreary administrative tasks can be the first step in achieving that.

In terms of organization-wide pain points, you can think about how you can best use your time as a leader within your business. It’s probably more important for you to spend one-on-one time with your team members, develop new products, or conduct site visits with clients than it is to blow five hours trying to find a new office supplies vendor.

Those are exactly the kinds of tasks that personal assistants can handle, freeing you up to use your time, energy, and creativity in the most productive way possible. 

#2: Create a Job Description

Now that you know a little more about what you are looking for in a personal assistant, it’s time to write their job description. As you’re creating your job description, think back to Step 1 – what tasks or jobs will the personal assistant be taking off your plate? Make sure to include that information in your listing.

You will also want to include some general information that is typical in job descriptions across the board. Candidates will definitely be looking for these inclusions:

  • What benefits or perks you can offer
  • The overall impact of the personal assistant role on the company’s success
  • Expectations for behavior and personal qualities
  • How closely the personal assistant will be working with C-level executives
  • Both “must-have” and “nice-to-have” qualifications and experience

Why is it important to mention all of these? Well, people who are not qualified may self-select out of the applicant pool when they understand the job requirements. On the flip side, talented candidates like to know that they will have the chance to work with senior leadership and make a contribution to the company.

In today’s hiring environment, it’s also important to include whether the position will be fully remote, hybrid, or in-person. You will also need to specify whether your personal assistant will be working full-time (40 hours per week) or part-time. There are pros and cons on either side of the equation.

  • Cost: Part-time employees cost less, both in terms of salary and required benefits. Remote employees may also save costs by limiting the overhead you need for office space, although you may want to consider giving a stipend for internet or work-from-home materials if you choose to hire remotely (read more about how working from home can save costs in our work-from-home guide). 
  • Attracting talent: Most individuals prefer working full-time, so it may be more difficult to find a part-time employee. Remote work is also the first choice, with over 68% of the U.S. workforce preferring that option
  • Learning curve: When employees work full-time, they are more likely to get up to speed faster and become more effective in a short amount of time. 
  • Physical presence: Some organizations like their workers to be in person with them. However, hiring for a remote or hybrid position can give you access to a wider pool of talent, as you’ll be able to search all over the globe.

So which should you pick? Remote or in-person? Full-time or part-time? Well, that all comes down to your personal preferences and the duties that you would like your personal assistant to perform. At the end of the day, it’s your decision which option is best for you and the goals of your company. 

#3: Recruit the Best Candidates

It can be challenging to find the right candidates, even after you’ve written a top-notch job description. In fact, you’ll likely have an abundance of candidates to choose from – did you know that the average corporate job opening receives 250 applicants? That’s a lot of paperwork to sift through!

You will likely need to post your job description on a variety of sites, whether you use ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn or others. For the personal assistant position, you might also consider websites typically reserved for freelance contractors, such as Fiverr or Upwork. Does that sound like a lot of work? It is.

That’s why many people turn to talent management software to simplify the hiring process. In fact, 95% of Fortune 500 companies use it. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are becoming increasingly popular as a recruitment and hiring tool. And outsourcing recruitment efforts is also growing ever more common.

You might want to consider RPO, or recruitment process outsourcing. That is when an organization outsources their recruitment needs to external sources. These external bodies might employ advanced technological solutions or provide an ongoing third-party partnership that is in charge of all recruiting across the business. 

#4: Screen and Interview Candidates

Attracting strong candidates is just one piece of the hiring process. You will also need to think about how you are going to screen and interview them. There is also a potential to outsource this part of the process by working with a staffing agency or acquiring talent management software to help you stay on top of all of the different applicants you’ll be getting. 

#5: Hire Your Personal Assistant

Congratulations! You found the right personal assistant – and your life is about to get a lot easier. But even after you hire your personal assistant, it’s important to keep HR considerations at the forefront. For instance, many small businesses partner with PEOs, or professional employer organizations.

What are PEOs? They’re companies that specialize in HR and often handle benefits, payroll, tax compliances and other matters. The client and the PEO become “co-employers” of the company’s workforce – the PEO handles employment compliance while the company oversees the day-to-day work of its employees.

Ensuring that all of the employees at your organization (not just your personal assistant) are having a positive workplace experience is reliant on a strong HR setup.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Assistant?

You may be wondering how much it costs to hire a personal assistant – in other words, how much money are you going to have to shell out for these services? As with any job, the exact salary you’ll need to pay a personal assistant will depend on the specifics of their job duties and the location in which you or your organization is located.

On average, however, Indeed reports that personal assistants make an average annual salary of $46,546 per year in the United States. That equates to an hourly wage of $15.83. 

What Criteria Should You Look for in a Personal Assistant?

If you are considering hiring a personal assistant – and if you have made it this far in this article, we’re betting you are – you should look for someone who would be able to complete all of the following tasks:

  • Administrative Support: for example, tracking expenses and filing expense reports, taking notes and preparing meeting agendas, dictation, printing, and filing
  • Personal Assistance: for example, picking up your dry-cleaning, grabbing coffee on the way to the office, or walking your dogs
  • Travel Coordination: for example, generating itineraries, booking hotels and flights, coordinating rental cars, and planning client events and meals
  • Communication Management: for example, screening phone calls, taking messages, responding to emails, and more
  • Schedule Organization: booking emails and calls, renting out-of-office meeting spaces, general calendar management, and more.

Even if you don’t need all of these services now, it’s good to find someone who would be comfortable taking care of those needs down the road should they arise. There are also some more general qualities you should look for in a personal assistant:

  • Communication Skills: Personal assistants need to be strong communicators to build partnerships, adapt to diverse situations, and ensure stakeholders are equipped with all necessary information. 
  • Interpersonal Skills: Personal assistants must thrive in interpersonal situations, as they will have to interact with a large range of people to support their employers. 
  • Time Management Skills: Personal assistants must be effective at intelligently dividing time and planning specific activities. They often help out with schedule and calendar management. 
  • Organizational Skills: A good personal assistant will have a high level of adaptability in order to shift schedules according to business priorities. They will also have a robust knowledge of filing systems, databases, and more. 
  • Multitasking Abilities: In the world of a personal assistant, there will always be competing priorities and administrative tasks piling up. That’s why it’s crucial they are quick on their feet and ready to take on many different situations. 
  • Detail-Oriented: Personal assistants should be strong planners and should be able to get into the details. This skill would come in handy, for example, when putting together an itinerary for a conference trip.

As you look at the criteria for your ideal personal assistant, you may also want to consider their existing experience. Perhaps you want to spend a little more money on someone who has been working as a personal assistant for a while now. Or perhaps you want to save by hiring someone brand-new to the field. Whatever option you choose, you should think about the experience necessary for someone to succeed in the role.

Hiring a Personal Assistant — Our take

In the corporate world, personal assistants are an essential piece of the company’s success. They provide managers with support in most areas of the business, boasting diverse and valuable skill sets that enable them to thrive in many different conditions. If you’re overwhelmed and overrun at work, a personal assistant might be just what you need.

While it can initially feel daunting to hire a personal assistant, this complete guide offers everything you need to know about the hiring process, compensation norms, and important criteria to look for. Equipped with this knowledge, you are ready to take on the task of hiring a personal assistant. Get ready, because your day-to-day life is about to improve tenfold.

FAQ

A personal assistant can handle a wide range of tasks to help you manage your personal and professional life more efficiently. These tasks may include, but are not limited to, scheduling appointments, managing your calendar, making travel arrangements, handling phone calls and emails, running errands, coordinating events, conducting research, preparing reports, and providing general administrative support. When hiring a personal assistant, clearly communicate your needs and expectations to ensure they can adequately support you in your day-to-day activities.

To find and hire a reliable personal assistant, start by defining the skills and qualifications you require, along with the tasks you need help with. Then, create a detailed job description and share it through relevant channels such as job boards, social media, and personal networks. You may also consider using a professional staffing agency or an online platform specializing in connecting clients with personal assistants.

However, it's important to note that not all PEOs will be classified as co-employers. In order to make this determination, you'll need to look at the specific arrangement that you have with your PEO.

Quinn Arnone

Fact checked by Charlotte Evans

Quinn is RemotePad’s authority on remote work and HR tools. A Baltimore native, Quinn has a Bachelor of Arts from the College of William & Mary and a professional background in copy editing and education.