Personal Assistant Top skills – Outlook

For Personal Assistant  top skills – Outlook  was the number one on my list. Developing all the PA top skills was my focus to growing my profile, but Outlook was clearly the lead.

If you are a new Administrative Assistant, or if you worked yourself up to a Senior Admin, I have to tell you – you cannot ‘top off’ any skill set. I say this because regardless how good you get, technology changes, and our roles require we technically know our way around Outlook more than our bosses!

Which brings me to Outlook, or the calendaring sytem. I could give you a full training session on Outlook alone (note to self: will definitely work that into this website!)

These are the skills that we must know in our sleep. They are also the skills that we move through so quickly, that we make mistakes. So beware, and keep on top of your game.

As a PA or EPA, Outlook or the calendar system you use will always stay open on your desktop. You probably don’t even bother to check your own calendar because it’s your boss’ schedule you care about the most. It simply cannot be wrong.

When Outlook 2010 came out, I gotta admit, it took me a couple of weeks to get my navigation down. There were so many more ‘VIEW’ options and icons I didn’t use before that I had to start from a pretty bare view and then added them back in slowly.

Personal Assistant Top Skills  -Outlook

The biggest glitch that got me in trouble was actually having my boss’ calendar on my phone. When a meeting request would come in, I would hit ‘ACCEPT’ but for some reason it wouldn’t show up on the calendar when I logged in at my desktop at work. Of course I learned the hard way when someone called me and asked me why he wasn’t in the meeting and to my spinning stomach, my phone version had the correct info but I wasn’t seeing it on my monitor.

Every person has their preferences. Obviously you will get to know your boss well and will know the do’s and don’ts in managing their calendar. Some of these may not apply to your situation, but with the many people I have supported,

The most important things I learned about managing the calendar:

  • Do not schedule back to back meetings all day or majority of the day. I don’t know anyone who likes this. You have to give your boss enough time to prepare for the next one.
  • Is there a meeting offsite? Remember to block out TRAVEL time (to and from).
  • Block Desk time. if you have an executive who gets invited to a lot of meetings, block desk time after every 2 hours of meetings. They need time to work and make calls.
  • BLOCK Time. This can be seen as desk time as well. I supported an executive who was okay with one meeting on a Friday morning and then requested the rest of the day blocked. It was by far his sacred time and I certainly honored it.
  • Check all the meetings your boss owns. If you initiated the meeting request, he is the owner. Make sure you have the agenda ready and any materials printed or sent out to the attendees prior to the meeting. That is just a preference thing.
  • Know who isn’t coming and why. If there are attendees required to attend and they are unable to come, move the meeting before the boss asks, “Who is coming to this meeting?”

There are a lot of things about managing the calendar that don’t have to do with the tool itself. I think those are the skills that really make you a rock star or someone who is just a scheduler.

I know how fast these schedules change. When you know it’s a busy day, week, or month, always be a step ahead.

If you are lucky enough to get a 1:1 with your boss, review the calendar together. Discuss each meeting, the purpose, who owns what, the status, and any materials needed. I always looked a  month ahead and made sure everything was up to date.

Call to confirm meetings.

Make sure you have all standing meetings and that they are accurate.

Don’t forget about including conference call information, updating location changes, and any other information provided in the body of the meeting invite.

Stay tuned. More Outlook and calendar skill development information will be shared soon!

Personal Assistant Job Description

Personal Assistant Job Description - The Personal AssistantIf you are looking for an industry standard of the Personal Assistant Description, you may find that although the role has been around for a long time, it has evolved as business and personal demands have increased.

The job role can vary depending on who you support. The tasks vary based on the industry of the person supported. The role has evolved to include assisting a family, juggling multiple calendars, both professional and personal.

As I did some research in the past couple months, I found a general description that overall encompasses the basic skills of the personal assistant:

Job Responsibilities:

1. Handling the daily activities of the manager or the executive they are working for. This includes handling phone calls, meetings and appointments.

2. Apart from these responsibilities, this job also demands to take care of small yet, important matters like managing the accounts, checking on the stationery, writing minutes, taking dictations and so on.

3. Many times, a personal assistant is also expected to handle unofficial work of the principal, which usually happens in case of ministers, millionaires, or movie stars.

4. Keeping the boss updated about the recent updates like emails, letters and information of similar nature.

5. Preparing correspondence on behalf of the boss.

6. In case the job involves traveling, a personal assistant is expected to make all the necessary arrangements and accompany the boss, if it is required.

Additional job responsibilities (this is very common for Executive/Personal Assistant crossover roles)

• Organize, prioritize and archive business documents 
• Organize, track and archive research and marketing materials
• Work independently and with minimal supervision.
• Anticipate support needs
• Track and record business expenses
• General errands
• Minor Mac/Apple troubleshooting
• Anticipate Executive support needs
• Additional duties as assigned


  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite and/or Mac platform.
  • Strong ability to multitask and manage incoming information with ease and efficient response time.
  • Highly organized, responsive, efficient, and able to handle multiple projects simultaneously
  • Have own laptop computer and smart phone (this is a requirement seen more and more)
  • Own reliable transportation, complete a background a check

Training and Education Requirements:

The personal assistant job description may not need education beyond a high school diploma, however a growing number of principles seek assistants with higher education.

High school graduates with some experience in an executive support role may already have the skills needed to become a personal assistant. Some principles will not require a four-year degree but will request a number of years experience that would replace the education. Experience, good references, and great skills will take you far without having attended college or a university.

Who the Personal Assistant Supports

Depending on the level of support you will be required to do your job, the role will be either fairly light on the workload or just as busy as any office paying, or corporate job. I would call these environments ‘cube land’.

If you are assisting someone who owns their own newer business, it will most likely be a part-time job and the pay rate will be low, most likely by the hour.

If you are assisting someone who is at an executive level, or high-profile in the community, possibly a celebrity, the job description can easily span two or three pages!

Stay tuned, so much to share!

The Personal Assistant Blog

Welcome to the Personal Assistant blog!

I will also be sharing about the Executive Assistant role as well, since there are so many in this job role who end up crossing over or doing multiple tasks that over time really do overlap both roles.

I have a lot of goals in starting this blog, my main intention to share my experiences and be a resource to those who are seeking the career of an Executive/Personal Assistant.

Thank you, and I hope you return to visit me soon!


The Personal Assistant