Employers…Please don’t put people in boxes!

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I felt the need to blog about this as it frustrates the life out of me.

What am I talking about you’re wondering? Well, I will tell you and try not ‘rant’ (But i might)

So, what is frustrating me is this; Recruiters, employers, that don’t hire people based on ‘age’ or for not having certain ‘qualifications’ I am sure they end up shutting out a lot of great potential candidates because of this.

I have seen it so many times in recruitment ad’s ‘A bachelors degree essential’ errr.. why? or ‘Degree preferred’ again, why? Especially in the PA roles, this seems to me ridiculous. Employ someone on their merit and experience, don’t put them in a box of a job advert and then not look at any CV’s that haven’t got that certain qualification.

I’m not just talking about PA jobs either, I have also seen this for people I know that work in finance. They are looking for a new job, they have been a good solid finance job for over 8 years, has over 10 years worth of finance experience, but can’t get a new job due to that fact that he is not ‘ACCA’ or ‘CIMA’ qualified, they don’t care about his great experience, they just dismiss CV or if he is lucky enough to get an interview, because the job spec says the certain qualification is ‘desirable’ he might as well have not bothered as he always gets to the 2nd stage of the interview and then hears he has been unsuccessful because…. ‘They really want someone qualified’ !!!!!! and…. breathe!!! But this is what frustrates me. Why can’t some people look beyond qualifications sometimes. Yes, I know they are needed in some professions but when the job spec is identical to the job you are doing now or very similar and they don’t give you a chance because of those 4 letters above?! It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

The other box is ‘age’ I wish more employers would give over 50’s a chance. There are quite a few out there looking for work, not through choice but they can’t retire due to money issues, or they lost their job just before retirement and need to carry on working. It is such a struggle for them. I have told some older friends that are looking, to take their age off their CV’s as unfortunately it does them no favours. I just wish people wouldn’t look at age and the person that is in front of them or the experience on the CV, before they dismiss them completely just because they think they’re ‘too old’ Makes me cross!

So recruiters/employers out there…Please please please don’t people in boxes and give people a chance. Give someone the precious break they might need so desperately… Look beyond qualifications and age. Hire the ‘right’ people not people that just tick boxes on your job advertisement.

Rant…. over! Told you it would turn into a bit of a rant.

Confessions of a very untraditional PA!

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OK, so confession time… I have been a PA / EA now for around 12 years now which makes me feel a bit old but i’m not too old… 33 actually in case you wanted to know. Anyway, I digress. I have worked in many different industries and for men and woman (men are far easier to work with in my opinion) & I have never had any real complaints about my work and PA skills. But, sometimes, well a lot of the time, I do feel like a bit of charlatan… the reasons why are below, WARNING: if you are a very ‘Traditional’ by the book, prim and proper career PA, then please do not read on, as you are likely to have a panic attack! You have been warned.

So, this is how I work as a PA:

  • I don’t file anything… Not a thing, I don’t file paperwork or e-mails. I currently have 5,914 e-mails in my inbox and that is where they will stay, until I got forced into archiving, but I find it easier to work this way, I can find things much easier. If I file, I would forget where and what folder it was in etc… This works for me.
  • My desk is a total mess… paper piled up, not in any order, bosses old expenses in an envelope in that pile along with invoices that I need to sort, contracts that I have signed, it all just sits there, because I know that, that messy pile has everything I need and I just pick it up and go through it when I need to find something. I have post it notes dotted about all over, reminding me of things to do also, they are in pretty colours by the way, pink, purple etc.. not dull yellow!
  • I never write ‘To do Lists’ I can’t think of anything more dull than writing down all the things you need to do., I prefer to use my memory and just get on and do them one by one. Yes I set reminders in my outlook calendar sometimes if I think there is a bit too much to remember but I luckily have a great memory and so I don’t forget much. A To-Do list would stress me out by just looking at it.
  • The way I work with my e-mails on Outlook is this —> I have about 20 e-mails all open at the bottom of my outlook and then I close them once I have finished with that task, this then reminds me of what I need to do, so I suppose that is my to do list! (Any PA’s freaking out yet?!) 
  • I don’t make tea or coffee for my boss, bad PA I know… but he can make it himself, he never makes me tea or coffee so why should I. I am his PA not his minion! & yes of course I make it for his customer meetings, but I wouldn’t offer if he is sitting at his desk, unless I was making it for everyone.
  • I have never and will never suck up to my boss, or act any differently to who I am, to please him.My motto is always: Stay true to yourself, you can’t go wrong with this in my opinion.
  • I can never just do one job at a time and focus on it. I usually am doing about 4 different things at once, I know that is probably standard for a lot of PA’s but it is how I prefer to work. I get easily distracted.
  • I don’t colour code my calendar or do follow up flags on my e-mails either.
  • I talk a lot and laugh loudly and I swear…I would not be suited to very quiet corporate offices, but luckily I have always worked in fun laid back environments.
  • I don’t deal with structure and authority very well at all. I like flexibility and I have been fortunate enough to never have strict hours at work, so I can come and go when I please (within reason of course!) and work from home once or twice a week or when is needed, which is perfect for me. I don’t like to be chained to a desk and to be bossed about. Again, I am lucky to have a boss who says ‘sorry’, before asking me to do anything’ which I find quite funny! Maybe he is scared of me… ? Just to note: I am not scary at all!!

But…. having said all of the above, I think I am a great PA (you have to blow your own trumpet!) and… I have never been told otherwise & have always had great jobs and feedback from my bosses, so I say, whatever works for you. I know some would freak out with my way of working, but this is what helps me and I doubt I will change my ways now, well I know I won’t, I enjoy being in my organised chaos. I will never be a neat and tidy, prim and proper PA and I don’t think that is a bad thing, it has worked for me so far just fine and as the saying goes,  ‘If it ain’t broke…’

Oh and If my boss happens to be reading this… don’t panic, I know where your expenses are and they will be done on time…honest ;o) 

New Girl… Again!

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So, it is my first day at a new job tomorrow in London, one of my favourite places to be! I am not all that nervous really, as I am a bit of a dab hand at being the ‘new girl’ … as I have had this experience about 8 or 9 times now in the space of 15 years! This isn’t because I am fickle I have you know, it is just how it has happened. My PA career has been a bit of tricky one and a bit too complicated & long-winded to explain, but let’s just say I haven’t been the luckiest of people when it comes to working along side some women, as they have been the most awful women I have ever had the dis-pleasure of knowing! They seriously give us women a bad name!!  But, I like everything there is good and bad and I like to think I have been lucky too, as I have landed some fab jobs and have met some great people along the way too, to restore my faith that there are some non back-stabbing women in the PA world ;o)

So, here I go again tomorrow morning, into the unknown ish… hoping and praying for the best. I feel I deserve a bit of a break you know, with the amount of shit I have had to deal with in the past work wise, I feel this is my time and as the job found me and not the other way round, I like to think it is meant to be and fate played a little, or maybe a big part in this new job.

So, think of me tomorrow and please send me good vibes… I am hoping I won’t even need them, but it is nice to know some people are rooting for me :o)

I will putting on my brave face, a big smile and going for it and I really hope in a few years time, I can be blogging you all again, saying; ‘See, I told you I had a feeling this job was going to be ‘the one’ Everything crossed…

I will keep you posted!

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Why finding the right job is a job in itself!

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I thought I would write a blog about the struggles that come with finding a job, the ‘right’ job.

I have been a PA (Personal Assistant) now for the last 12 years and have enjoyed it, mostly, other than a few other females making it miserable for me. I have worked in various big, global organisiations, so when I deiced to leave a job I loved dearly after nearly 5 years, it was a hard decision, but the company were re-locating to London and not central either, so I had to think of my sanity as the hours were long as it was and boss used to call me at all hours so I didn’t fancy the long 2 hour commute on top of that!

So, now I am job hunting and it is harder than I ever imagined it would be. It looks like there are 1000’s of candidates registered with the recruitment agencies and you are unfortunately just a number. I have been unemployed (hate saying that!) for a week, and I hate it already, I want to be working, I am good at what I do, someone give me a break and a job! 

The problem I find with ‘some’ agencies are this; They tend to like people who have degrees over experience. Well I am the latter, I have tons of good old fashioned experience, I didn’t want to go to uni, I chose to start working as I just wanted to earn money, so therefore I started on reception and worked my way up. Graduates have just come out of uni, having probably never worked in an office and they get given the job over someone like me, who has worked hard to get where I am. Now, I know they may be able to pay a graduate a cheaper rate, but surely a grad has gone into the company, wanting to do the PA job for as little time as possible, to then move into a role more suited to their degree? So then the recruitment process starts all over again? Otherwise, why would you go to uni to become a PA? Now, I am not dissing us PA’s, it is a worthy job that is hard-work and bucket loads of common sense is needed. I am also not slating graduates either, maybe there are some out there, that do want to be a PA/EA, but many of them don’t I am sure of it. So can companies and agencies please stop being so obsessed with the ‘Degree essential’ bit on their job ad’s. There are so many great PA’s out there looking for work who have worked hard to be where they are, they need to be given a chance, I wish people would stop looking at qualifications so much over good old fashioned experience.

So, as you can see. I am finding job hunting a bit of a struggle in itself, it feels like a full time job, one that I am not getting paid for! How unfair is that? I am doing all I can, I with countless agencies, OK I will count them.. 8, OK, that doesn’t sound like loads, but the one’s I have tried to register with say they cannot help me with my search? I assume because they are overloaded with CV’s that look just like mine!

I also find some agencies a little OTT, don’t get me wrong, you do find some gems, but some are just soul destroying for me. I walk out of there, knowing I probably won’t hear from them again, or I will, but they will call me with a job that doesn’t suit me at all and not the right salary etc.. (this happens frequently) So, they don’t tend to listen to what the client actually wants or needs, surely that is vital, to stop wasting both mine and their time?

I find LinkedIn a good website to search for jobs, along with secs and the city. I have had a few interviews but the end results were no’s which, I will admit doesn’t feel great. Being rejected feels crap, it really does, as your confidence then takes a knock and you then think, why wasn’t I good enough, did I come across badly at the interview.. it must have been my personality etc.. That is what happens to me anyway. I am a wee bit sensitive, something I am working on 😉

I just have to keep thinking that, the jobs that I didn’t get were not for me, and not meant to be and that a job I sorely deserve is out there somewhere soon. I just have to keep plodding on and stay positive, when sometimes all I want to do is sit on the sofa and cry lots. I deserve a break, as I am sure many other PA’s do too. We just have to keep at it and the right one will find us when it is good and ready.
Oh and tips for people that in the same position as me is:
1: Don’t let knock-backs get you down – unfortunately it is part and parcel of the job hunt, there are so many candidates going for each job, you might just not be the right ‘fit’ for that certain company, doesn’t mean you weren’t good enough. Ask for feedback if it helps put your mind at rest.
2: Be persistent – Agencies have 1000’s of people on their books, so keep reminding them who you are and that you are still looking, even if it sending them a weekly email to tell them rather than calling them all the time. This helps them keep your name fresh in their minds, I am not sure if it works, but it doesn’t do any harm and could help you bag that job.
3: Don’t give up! – Even if you feel like you will never get there, you will. It just sometimes takes time. It can be depressing and draining, but keep going, keep applying for jobs you know you can do well at and are worthy of. Soon enough something will come up that is right and meant just for you.
4: Job site alerts – Obvious one, but keep alerts on your job websites that you are registered to, as then any new jobs come flying into your inbox and you can apply for straight away.
5: LinkedIn – If you are not on there, get yourself on it! I can’t tell you how helpful this has been for me in the past for networking and jobs too. Recruiters in-house tend to look on there for suitable candidates. Make sure your profile is up to date with all your job history on and turn the job alerts on there too. Also, ask for any recommendations from previous bosses as this can help too, as it is an instant reference for an employer to see straight away.