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Why PAs need mentors too

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 As part of our commitment to helping personal assistants progress their career, we are working with Birkbeck, University of London to offer advice on professional development. Here, we look at why you should enlist the help of a mentor.

Today’s PAs have a long list of common responsibilities – and this list just keeps growing. As a result, it can seem impossible to keep on top of all the new skillsets you need to master. However, by prioritising your Continuous Professional Development (CPD), you will ensure that you have the skills you need to move up the career ladder and reach your long-term goals.

A well-chosen mentor can be an invaluable resource on your CPD journey, as they will be able to offer practical and relevant advice on how best to realise your ambitions. Whether a colleague, manager, or other senior professional you know, it’s always advisable to pick a mentor who is experienced, with an in-depth knowledge of your profession. It also goes without saying that they also ought to be trustworthy, authentic and, perhaps most importantly, a good personal match for you, as you need to feel comfortable enough to be honest with them.

With that in mind, here are four ways you can benefit from a good mentor:

1. Learn from their mistakes

An experienced mentor is likely to have faced – and indeed overcome – many professional challenges in their career. As a result, they are uniquely positioned to share practical advice, guidance and expertise derived from their own experiences. Ask about the difficulties they have experienced, and how they handled these situations. This can help you avoid similar mistakes, pitfalls and missteps that you otherwise may not have even anticipated.

2. Do you know how to market yourself?

It is important to be aware of your professional skills and competencies, and to conduct regular, honest self-assessments. However, ensuring others also recognise your strengths can be difficult. A mentor will deliver constructive and candid feedback on how to market yourself and network – ensuring your managers, colleagues and potential employees all have an accurate perception of the full range of your abilities.

3. Supporting you through the ups and downs

Unfortunately, stress and career set-backs are a part of working life, and they can have a serious impact on your confidence and self-worth. In these moments, having someone on-side who can empathise and act as a support system to you is a valuable asset. An invested mentor truly wants you to progress and do well, and will offer the experienced counsel needed to stay focused, determined and on-track for success throughout both good and bad times.

4. Facilitating your career acceleration

It is likely that a good mentor has moved ahead quickly and achieved much in their career, and as an ambitious PA, you will want to follow in their professional footsteps. Mentors can offer advice and even resources to help accelerate your progression – from giving examples of their own advancement strategies, to allowing access to their professional network. A more senior mentor is also likely to have an in-depth understanding of the direction the profession is moving, and thus identify the skills you need to remain a valued asset to an organisation. In this capacity, they are well placed to recommend what other CPD methods you should persue in order to fast-track your career.

A mentor shouldn’t be mistaken for an educational training service. The true value of having a mentor is providing a more intangible, but no less vital, service: helping you develop leadership skills, being a sounding board at critical junctures in your career, and advising on further professional development steps. Listen to, and learn from them.

Look out for the next article in this series produced in association with Birkbeck and contact Birkbeck, University London to find out more about their evening study options in Bloomsbury, Central London, or Stratford, East London.

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