Hays UK jobs and employment blog


New year, new career: how can you land your dream PA or EA role in 2020?

By Roddy Adair, Director, Hays Personal & Executive Assistants


The role of the PA and EA is evolving.

Employers today want candidates who are not only able to perform basic administrative tasks, but who can also offer more strategic support to executives – whose own evolving roles as leaders necessitate that their assistants operate as true business managers.

The increased emphasis on the more strategic value that PAs and EAs are now providing has resulted in an opportunity-filled job market for those professionals that possess the right skills. 

Is now a good time to apply?

Skills shortages within the profession persist, with a huge 86% of PA and EA employers experiencing skills shortages in the past 12 months, according to the latest Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends report.

With demand for the right professionals ongoing, now is the perfect time to begin searching for your dream role. But exactly what skills are employers looking for? What can you do to set yourself apart and land the job you want, with the pay you deserve?

1. Look to gain specialist expertise
Employers are increasingly supplementing the traditionally secretarial PA and EA role with additional responsibilities in specialist functions such as HR and finance.

A background in these areas will provide you with the opportunity to add insight and business acumen to your day-to-day role as well as traditional PA support. If you don’t have a background here, try to get involved in projects that enable you to work closely with specific functions – and pay attention to what makes different areas of your organisation tick.

This will stand you in good stead for a competitive salary and put you well ahead of the competition.

2. Embrace new technology
Automation is revolutionising the world of work, but for the PA and EA profession it could transform careers for the better, freeing up time from administrative tasks such as diary management and allowing you to be more analytical and managerial.

Pre-empting how new technology will potentially affect both your organisation and your own day-to-day role is an important step for utilising automation to its best advantage. Taking responsibility for innovating your role will also stand you in good stead, allowing you to free up your time for more strategic duties. 

Finally, I cannot stress enough how important it is to take advantage of as many technology training opportunities that you can. This will help you ‘futureproof’ your skillsets and remain adaptable to the implementation of any new tech tools or software. Technology is always changing – so stay up to date.

3. Hone your soft skills
Despite accelerating technological innovation, soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence and relationship building remain key to any PA or EA role, and the most successful professionals will possess these qualities in abundance.

Exemplary soft skills allow you to build strong alliances with the teams and individuals you support, and help you align with other departments across your organisation. In turn, this will help you better understand how you can add value and where you are most needed.

Identify which soft skills you need to work on and upskill in these areas. If you are applying for a new role, be prepared to show how your soft skills helped achieve wider organisational objectives.

Think you deserve a higher salary or looking for a new role this year? Visit our New Year Career Hub to assess what you could be earning, read our Hot Jobs 2020 report, discover career advice and more.

About this author

Roddy joined Hays in 1999 as a Recruitment Consultant. In 2012 he took over operational responsibility for Hays in Scotland, managing dedicated teams providing expert temporary and permanent recruitment services for a wide range of sectors and professions. From 2017, he has been the lead for Hays Personal & Executive Assistants business across the UK, providing strategic leadership to over 200 consultants.


Free staff diversity training

Sign up to Hays Thrive so your team can benefit from our Diversity & Inclusion package – as well as dozens more free training courses.

Sign up now


My Learning

My Learning is your portal for free training courses to support you throughout your career and get you market-ready for your next job search.


Hays Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020

In our latest Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Report, we explore whether flexible working can help create more diverse workforces and more inclusive workplaces.


Job search

Search for a job

Looking for a new role? Search here for your ideal job or get in touch with one of our expert consultants.


Register a job

Register a vacancy

Have a vacancy? Fill in your details here.


Contact us

Find your nearest Hays office

Hays has offices across the whole of the UK. Contact us to discuss your employment needs.