To successfully recruit a Personal Assistant (PA) you will need to carefully define the requirements of the job (‘tasks and responsibilities’) and the type of person you need for the job e.g. skills, knowledge and experience. This is called a job description and person specification, ultimately it will form part of your PA’s employment contract.
What is a job description?
A job description lists the main tasks and responsibilities of the job and details what tasks need to be carried out.
Taking time to write an effective job description will save you time in the long run and is part of good management as an employer. This is because job descriptions are helpful in the recruitment, induction and supervision of PAs.
Why should I write a job description?
The job description will form part of your PA’s employment contract and will also be useful for:
- Deciding the scope of the work involved in the job.
- Effectively advertising the job and detailing what applicants will have to do as part of the job.
- Assessing your PA’s performance and determining training needs once they are working for you.
If you intend to use employer template 4.3(a) Example employment contract (written statement of employment particulars), it is essential that you write a job description to accompany it.
The job description will also help you to develop interview questions which ask candidates about the previous experience/transferable skills they have, which makes them right for the role.
All employees like to know what is expected of them and how their performance in the role will be assessed. A job description is a very useful tool which you can use to help you do this.
If there is ever a misunderstanding between you and your PA over what the job involves, a well-prepared job description can help both of you to reach a common understanding of the role and where the PA’s duties start and end.
What is a person specification?
A person specification will be useful when writing a job advertisement and defining the qualities you are looking for in a candidate. The person specification should include the knowledge, skills, and experience that you would like candidates to have. You should separate those which are essential from those which are desirable. For example:
However you must remember that it is essential not to discriminate and to value diversity. For more information on this please see factsheet 2.5: Avoiding discrimination in PA employment.
A person specification will also help you to formulate interview questions so that you can make sure you employ the best person for the job.
For example, using the person specification above you might ask interview candidates:
‘Can you give me an example of a time when you have had to maintain good hygiene standards as part of your job?’
‘What methods would you use to make sure you completed the tasks involved in this role to a high standard?’
Writing a job description and person specification
If you wish you can use employer template Job description and person specification template -2.1(b) as a template for writing your job description.
What basic information should I include?
You should include the Job title and location of the position in your job description.
Detailing tasks and responsibilities
If you wish you can use employer template 2.1(a) Preparing your PA job description to help you think about the tasks and responsibilities involved in your role.
You may wish to use the following key headings when writing your job description:
Summary of the role
In this section you may wish to include a brief summary of the role (inc. key tasks and responsibilities) and the purpose of the role.
E.g. This role involves assisting and supporting me with domestic and personal care tasks to support me in my role as a mother and to enable me to live as independently as possible.
Under the sort of headings listed below you should provide a detailed list of the tasks your PA will be expected to perform.
- Personal care tasks
- Domestic tasks (washing up, cooking light meals, accompanying me shopping)
- Admin tasks (helping me with paperwork)
- Social support tasks (accompanying me to appointments)
You may also wish to add ‘any other reasonable tasks requested’.
In this section you can provide details of the skills and qualities that you would like your PA to have.
For more information see above.
What types of tasks and responsibilities might be involved in my PA’s job?
The tasks involved in your PA’s job will be specific to your personal situation but might include: