Personal Assistant Tips on Finding Where the Jobs Are
As someone looking to find a job as a Personal Assistant, you can be assured that by the time you find the position others have also found it, but the second part of getting hired is to stand out. In the next few pages, we'll discuss the secrets you can use to rise above the competition and how to make yourself look like the perfect selection for becoming their Personal Assistant.
Agencies, headhunters, networking, word of mouth, special lists, the Internet, job sites, friends, family, and using your brain to find every place that could be a lead for a Personal Assistant position. There is even a technique using Who Representations.com that we will also go over.
Once you've figured out which area you want to work in (music, entertainment, politics, sports, etc.), you can begin outlining your search criteria.
One of the better places to begin is with the placement agencies. The good ones should not charge you a dime for registering with them. Inside is a list of the better agencies, but you should be leery of the ones who want to test you like they would a secretary. It is not often that you would have to take a typing, spelling, and math test like some placement agencies have their candidates do. If your agency is seasoned in placing Personal Assistants, then they should sit down with you and thoroughly go over and review your entire background. Remember, some of the Personal Assistant positions out there never do a single day of typing or filing. There are many that do, in fact a majority of them, but this is not the only criteria for getting the position. As you will read again and again through this guide, the things you will be hired for first and foremost are, if your personality is similar to your boss's, and that your skill set compliments the position. Your age, experience, and job longevity are also important but secondary to these.
Another source for job seeking are your connections. Word of mouth can sometimes lead to an opportunity you might never have heard about through conventional methods. You never know who knows whom. Your father may have a friend at work who just got an account with Shaq, and he just happens to be looking for a new Personal Assistant. You just never know. So put the word out. A lot.
Let's talk about back doors. Sometimes, especially when you are newer to this field, the doors all seem locked up tight. So how do you get in? One of the many things you'll learn in this guide is that when you are on the job, you must find creative and resourceful way to get a task done. So why should not job hunting be just as creative?
You've heard this term many times before. Internet Hackers often use back doors to get into sites that are protected. So why should not you use creative back doors to get closer to celebrities, or high-powered people who are also protected. You just have to know how to get in.
Let's say for example you are one of the many people who want to work within the entertainment business. It's a hard business to crack and very often you find that you have no allies. So how does one get close to the stars or the producers or directors?
One method is to do extra or background work. You will need to register with one of the agencies, pay a fee and take almost an ent day to get registered, but once you do, they will start calling you for various TV shows and movies. If you are lucky, you might work on a show for several days. The bad thing is that the pay is not great and the hours are long. The good thing is how fast you can meet people and create connections which potentially could get you're the kind of work you're really looking for.
As you spend your time on a set, get to know the higher-ups. The production people, the crew, even the producer's assistants. As you begin to build a rapport with them you can slowly let them know what your real goals are. Sometimes they will invite you to leave a resume with them as, periodically, they hear of a position opening here or there.
This same technique can be used in volunteer work. Again, depending on the type of Personal Assistant you want to be, a number of celebrities, athletes, and politicians volunteer their time to various projects and this is a great opportunity not only to give to your community, but to work along these people. I even know one woman who is now the Personal Assistant to a politician who she met while working with Habitat for Homes.
Do you work for a florist who delivers to high-end people? Are you currently working in the mail room of an agency or PR firm who represent A-list clients? If you let them know your ambitions after you've proved what a loyal, hardworking, dedicated employee you are, chances are you can be recommended to one of the clients who needs a new Personal Assistant.
Again, any avenue or creative way that you can put yourself into a position where the opportunity is there to meet the right connections, then you should take full advantage of that back door.
I'm not condoning running up to them and getting in their faces. This can backfire in so many ways, you can come off like a stalker, or weird, or pushy. But, if you do it in a subcont way, perhaps by making acquaintances with the charity staff and letting them know what you do, then perhaps they may hear of something and since they appreciate the volunteer operations on your part, it is a good chance that they may pass along your resume or information. But first, you must ALWAYS show that you can be a hardworking, dependable volunteer.
Searching on the Internet can be a good tool to start with. You never know who is going to be doing the job posting; it could have the manager, the agent, a friend, the old assistant, a relative, or even a search firm. So yes, while hundreds of others may be seeing this same ad, you must take the opportunity to investigate because they may not want all the others, there might be something that stands out on your resume that tells them this person may be the one.
You can never be sure when someone will post a new ad, you should do your searches twice a day. Once around 10am (because that's when the databases of new information are typically uploaded, and again around 4pm. Okay, so by this time you're probably saying big deal I put in Personal Assistant and I get the same worthless junk everyone else is already seeing.
This may be true in some cases, but what we will learn here is how to maximize the Internet to tell you more about a job then the information the ad gives. Let's say that again; the ad you find about a particular position may not have enough information about the job, the people, or the company. This guide will give you some tips and show you some tricks that can often reveal a lot more information then they wanted you to know.
Why is this helpful? Because sometimes an ad may promise more than the job actually is, and by finding out deeper information, you can assess whether you really want to pursue that job or not. Or, the opposite can sometimes be true. An ad may give little information and turn out to be for a big, important person and they were afraid to divulge too much information.
So let's try some experiments. It's true that hundreds of people are going to come across some of the same results as you will find in your searches, but then again, some will not know how to search correctly. And just because you and someone else finds the same job lead, it's the rest of your package that makes the difference in who gets hired. Your resume, your experience, how you interview, your clothes, and your personality, all goes into the mix when someone is deciding whether or not to hire you.
Let's get started. For our example we'll use Google since many of the search engines use Google's database for some of their own searching. Type the words Personal Assistant and see what you get. At the top of the list you'll notice the first couple of results are those that pay to be listed there. After that, you are most likely to find sites that are trying to sell you something or get you to try some product. Not much help.
Now try it again and this time place quotation marks around the words "personal assistant" but this time let's also ad some key words. You can try job, classified, celebrity, placement, job, position, actor, etc.
Try substituting words, such as help, hire, work, employment. Or try describing the area you want to work in, "personal assistant" AND "clothes design". Even better, let's use some examples from ads and take some key words to create a search criteria. Try typing the following into Google's search bar: "personal assistant" savvy, or try organizing, or computer skills. Notice now the different results you get. You'll still have to weed through a few important lists, but notice also that your search returns are richer and with closer results.
Now, let's say that there is a job that you find interesting on Craig's list or Monster or EntertainmentCareers or showbizdata. But the information is very limited. You may be surprised by all the information you can obtain from this cryptic job description. First, let's look at the ad itself. What are they looking for? Pay attention to the kinds of phrasing it uses and the descriptions. For example, does it use the word entertainer, or actor? Does it say athletic or sports personality? Grammy winner, or Grammy nominee? Do you get where this is going? The words they use can indicate if the position is for a true working star or someone who was a star and is now a personality. You are welcome to apply for either but know what you are getting into. Approach every job interview with open eyes and do your homework.
The second thing to notice is if the ad says that the tasks are simple but they want you to have a bevy of skills; computer, internet research, errands, shopping, managing the household, and they are asking for a few years experience, you can be sure that they think the job is easy, but they have no clue as to what's involved.
Why do they have no clue? It could be a manager or a representative who is posting the ad and really does not know all the details important aspects that the job entails. Often a placement agency who does not typically place Personal Assistants will get one odd job thrown at them by a referral. Or, the last Personal Assistant could have been so good at the job, keeping the minutia from the employer that the employee actually thinks the job is easy.
The next thing to ALWAYS look for is the contact information. Did they leave a fax number or an email? If it's a fax, it can sometimes be easier to research a position based on the number. Again, using Google you can type in the fax number using dashes or dots and then press search:
Try all three versions until you get the correct results 310-555-5555, 310.555.5555, (310)555-5555
Want a real example of this? Scroll down to the ICM Talent contact information below and cut-n-paste their fax number into the Google search bar and look at the results.
A good deal of the time you will find search results with a company name. If there's a contact name as well, even better. Why? Now you can go to their web site and see if there is a company directory. If not, you might still be able to get some research done. If there is only a first name, then it may be harder, but if the person listing the position has also put their last name, then the next immediate step is to figure out is how the company lists their emails.
Let's say for example the person, Judy Blah, is from the ICM Agency. You go to their web site and immediately look for the "contact us" page. The first thing you should try to find is how they list their email addresses. You'll definitely see that the end part says @icmtalent (dot) com. But does the beginning part say info (at) icmtalent? Or, Submission (at) icmtalent? What now? The next step is to figure out how they enter a person's name on their email address. Because if you can figure this out, you now have a direct contact within their agency. The way to find this out can be simple.
Type in: http://www.betterwhois.com . Type in the web address for that company (in this case http://www.icmtalent.com , or whatever follows the @ symbol) and you will come up with a page that says reserved. Next, scroll down the page and click on the "more info" link. Now you can see their contact info? No big deal, right? But hey, the contact and administrator emails have the same last part icmtalent.com. And, this time it has by their name:
Administrative Contact: International Creative Mgmt Chun, Greg gchun (at) icmtalent (dot) com 10250 Constellation Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90067 Phone: 310-550-4000 Fax: 999 999 9999
So now it's a good bet that ALL the company email addresses use a first initial and last name, just like Greg's email does. Great. Now, using this same logic, you can be assured that you may have the right email address for the Judy Blah, the person looking to fill the position. You can then email her directly. But there's still more information you can gather.
If you now type "ICM actors" in Google, you will eventually find some pages with names of clients, former clients, and some of their agents:
ICM represents high-profile clients including Chris Rock, Halle Berry, and Beyonce Knowles. ICM also arranged financing for Oscar-nominated films such as "Gosford Park, Moulin Rouge," and "The Fellowship of the Ring." The agency has lost several star agents in recent years, along with big-name clients (including Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts) to its competitors. ICM was formed in 1975 by the merger of Creative Management Associates and The International Famous Agency.
More good info. Using this new information, let's move on.
Next, let's go to whorepresents (dot) com. For this one, you may need to sign up for a subscription (about $ 12 a month). Here, if you type the Agent's name you will get a list of their clients. And vice-versa if you type in the Actor you'll get a list of their representatives.