As a PA or Executive Assistant you will undoubtedly be aware of the competition that always exists for the most sought-after roles. However you can greatly improve your chances of being seriously considered as a candidate by focusing on the following areas in your CV.
Sector or Industry experience
Employers of PA roles often seek out individuals from a similar professional background. In this way top-tier Professional services firms often insist that candidates come from a rival firm and a similar situation happens in other sectors, such as investment banking, media or public sector. Where you have this experience tailor your CV accordingly so that your relevance is clear. Of course, where your background differs from a job you are applying for, omit this to avoid early stage rejection.
Assist and contribute to projects
Think of any projects that you have participated in, what your role was and the significance of the project to the company. Even if your contribution was relatively minor you can still utilise the experience. For example:
“I was part of a special project tasked with researching the viability of ABC Ltd. launching its key product line in France. My role involved contacting French suppliers and researching pricing, supply timeframes and volumes. I also monitored team progress on a weekly basis and communicated with senior managers on results. Following three months of preparation the company successfully launched the product in four major urban locations.”
As one of the essential criteria in most PA and Executive Assistant roles, your experience should feature prominently among your achievements. Make clear the nature of your diary management activities including the seniority of those you have managed diaries for and any complexity involved, especially concerning International or remote-based staff. Has your role involved booking hotels overseas, researching airline schedules, ordering foreign currency or producing a travel itinerary? If so, highlight this on your CV.
By the way, organisations use different diary management packages so it is worth including a section in your CV listing the diary management packages you have used e.g. MS Outlook, LotusNotes etc.
PAs and EAs are often the people tasked with organising events and therefore you should highlight your relevant experience. Have you organised conferences, Christmas parties or other corporate hospitality events? Provide details in your CV including the internal departments and senior managers you liaised with (Facilities, Finance, members of the board etc.), external suppliers and other relevant groups you contacted.
In your CV describe your experience in terms of achievements, rather than just listing details. For example:
“Successfully organised a national conference on behalf of XYZ Ltd. requiring research of over 30 venues, hiring 20 catering staff via Facilities and coordinating the attendance of 300 employees including 30 senior managers and the company board.”
Finally - Attention to detail
This means no spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or inconsistent fonts, margins and so on. Your CV must look neat and uncluttered with a clean, professional font. As a tip, Calibri works well and is very legible both on screen and on paper.
Once you have completed your CV, read it and then read it again. After this give it to a person whose English is of a high standard and ask them to try to find errors. Doing this will ensure the final document is error-free portrays you in the best possible light. It also helps avoid embarrassing errors such as emphasising your strong ‘dairy management’ skills – not often required for PA roles.