PAs: the boss can't live without us

Aug 05 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Nearly nine out of ten City PAs say that the idea of doing their managerís job holds no appeal whatsoever, despite the much higher salaries and kudos it would bring them. Manager's jobs were perceived to be "dull", with "too much pressure and hassle."

A survey of 130 City PAs by secretarial recruitment outfit Joslin Rowe discovered that the role and profile of City PAs is changing, with a third being graduates and half of the PAs surveyed saying that firms prefer PAs to be educated to degree level.

But whatever their level of education, over two thirds of PAs think that their boss could not do their job without them. More than eight out of ten PAs also think that their managers would be unable to swap roles and be an effective PA for the day.

Whilst three-quarters of the PAs felt they enjoyed a very good relationship with their manager, male bosses were considered the easiest to work by nine out of ten PAs. The remainder said it was impossible to generalise just on gender. But not one PA said that a female boss was easier to work for than a male.

Two thirds of the survey sample had taken a conscious career decision to become a PA, with only just over one in ten claiming they became a PA thinking it would give them a foot in the door to what they really wanted to do. Almost a quarter became a PA because they were not sure what else they wanted to do.

Variety, responsibility and feeling needed emerged as the top three plus points of being a PA. The most frustrating aspects of the job were found to be the lack of respect which other employees show towards PAs, the smaller bonus potential of the position because it is still considered a support role and the lack of career progression.

All the PAs agreed that their roles had changed considerably over the years. One in five pointed to cost cutting as causing one of the most significant changes to the job description because more and more PAs now work for more than one person.

Jo Bareham, manager of secretarial and support recruitment at Joslin Rowe said that she was not surprised that PAs think their bosses canít do their jobs without their help.

"Whenever I am asked to recruit a new PA the manager in question usually interviews lots of candidates before they hire someone because they are so used to their old PA and their particular way of working. Most managers are just so reliant on a good PA they are literally lost without them," she said.