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How can PA and secretarial staff increase their salaries in 2018?

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Over the past few weeks, the news that salaries haven’t risen much this year has consistently been in the headlines. Our recent Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2018 guide showed that for PAs and secretaries average wages rose by a very modest 0.7% .

Of course, it’s no surprise that employees are consequently dissatisfied with their earnings. Our report revealed that 58% of PAs and secretarial staff are unhappy with their salaries. In fact, it is the main reason why many are planning to leave their current roles over the next year.

Not all doom and gloom

However, this isn’t to say that there are no opportunities to progress in this industry – quite the opposite.

Despite the ongoing political and economic uncertainty, 62% of all office support employers anticipate activity levels will increase in 2018, which is marginally above the overall UK average (59%). As a result of this anticipated increase in business activity levels, 68% are planning to recruit.

Furthermore, acute skills shortages are gripping the country. Whilst this is not good news for many employers, it does mean that talented candidates can easily set themselves apart to businesses eager to recruit the best and brightest.

Skills shortages are so acute in the world of office support that 21% of employers do not feel they have the talent needed to complete current business objectives and 57% think they will face a shortage of suitable candidates when recruiting staff over the next 12 months.

How can you get a salary increase?

There are many things a talented EA, PA or secretary can do to take advantage of skills shortages and even move up a salary band.

Here are the 3 skillsets that PA and secretarial employers will be looking for in 2018:

1) Specialist focus, but with an understanding of the wider business

PAs and secretaries with experience of the specific industry in which they work continue, as always, to be in demand. Further, experience not only in the relevant industry, but in a specific function such as HR is hugely desirable.

However, as the remit of EAs, PAs and secretaries expands and organisations come to expect more from these roles, the candidates who set themselves apart are those who have an understanding of the operations of a business as a whole and who have commercial acumen. In order to demonstrate this, PA and secretarial professionals should work to understand the responsibilities and challenges of the various teams, get involved in budgeting and forward planning, and aim to contribute on a more strategic level.

2) Excellent relationship management

Relationship building is now a vital part of any PA or secretarial job role, and is especially true the further you progress. When working at a higher level, you may be dealing with very senior professionals – board level executives and members of the c-suite – every day. You need to build good working relationships with them, their clients, as well as internal stakeholders within your organisation.

Of course, being able to secure consistently successful relationships requires a combination of soft skills. Effective communication is of course the most important, but you also need to be resilient and confident. If you can master these, you will find yourself in high demand amongst employers.

3) A proactive and flexible approach to tasks and responsibilities

All organisations today are looking for someone who is willing to go beyond the confines of their job specification. They are looking for a proactive problem-solver, who can identity new ways to fix problems. For example, if you notice that the turnover of office support staff is high in your organisation, they want you to be able to come to them with a solution – despite this not being your ‘remit’.

The candidates who demonstrate this mentality the most are those who have created or benefited from internal networks of other PAs and secretaries in their business, or who have found a mentor. If they have had the opportunities, they may touch base with those holding similar roles in offices across the world, and draw from their experiences and learns. If you don’t work for a global company, you can also take advantage of one of the many networking events available to you.

Find out how more on PA and secretarial recruiting trends, request your copy of the Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2018 guide.


To speak about how best to progress your PA career, find your local recruiting expert here.


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What impact has Brexit uncertainty had on salaries and recruitment plans?

How to become an award-winning PA with Charlotte Wood

Why PAs need mentors too

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