Factsheet number: 2.1


Last Updated: 24 June 2021

Introduction

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.

Contents

1. What is a job description?

1.1. Why should I write a job description?

2. What is a person specification? 

3. Writing a job description and person specification

3.1. What basic information should I include?

3.2. Detailing tasks and responsibilities

3.3. What types of tasks and responsibilities might be involved in my PA’s job?

1. 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.

1.1. 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 4.3a: Example employment contract 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.

2. 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: Employer template 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?’ or ‘What methods would you use to make sure you completed the tasks involved in this role to a high standard?’

To help you prepare your job description, you may find it helpful to use: Employer template 2.1a: Preparing your PA job description

For a template job description & person specification, please use: Employer template 2.1b: Job description & person specification