by | Nov 29, 2021 | Blog, Executive Assistant

Choosing between an executive assistant vs. a personal assistant can be a tough decision at the best of times. But especially if you’re unsure of the differences between the two roles. While the purposes and general skills are undoubtedly similar, the two positions are not interchangeable.

In movies such as “The Devil Wears Prada,” we see assistants working all hours to take care of an executive’s professional and personal life. In reality, two separate people would handle these different sets of tasks. An executive assistant for business-related assignments, and a personal assistant for personal errands. It’s important to know which type of assistant would better suit your needs when you look to hire.

What is an Executive Assistant?

An executive assistant is a high-level professional who supports a company’s senior executives. They assist you in your professional life.

An executive assistant acts as a gatekeeper to your time. They filter calls and emails and manage your professional calendar. They make sure that low-value tasks stay off your desk so that you can focus on high-level business decisions. 

Much like a PA, an EA is there to make your life easier by performing delegated tasks. But an EA also has a strong understanding of your business and can tackle goal-oriented company projects too.

What is a Personal Assistant?

A personal assistant helps manage your personal life and schedule. Anyone who needs help staying on top of their daily tasks can use a PA. They’re for on-the-go celebrities, busy CEOs, stressed single parents, and overworked small business owners.

A personal assistant is there to handle the personal tasks you don’t have time for. They help you create a better work/life balance. Tasks can include managing your family calendar, running errands, and completing basic household chores. Their primary responsibility is to give you more time at home to do the things you love instead of to-dos.

Shared Skills Between Assistants

While the two roles are different, there are many skills that an executive assistant and a personal assistant both need.

Mutual Skillset of an EA and PA:

  • Computer Skills. Strong proficiency in processing software such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Stays up to date with new time-saving tools, apps and resources.
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Professional verbal and written communication to make calls and respond to emails on your behalf. Can represent you in person when needed.
  • Organizational and Time Management Skills. Capability to juggle multiple projects at once. Knows how to manage a busy schedule efficiently. Can prioritize their own and someone else’s time.
  • Trustworthiness. Discretion when dealing with confidential and sensitive personal or business information.
  • Flexibility. Flexible with their working schedule. Can jump between tasks and pick up urgent requests when required.

How to Choose between an Executive Assistant vs. a Personal Assistant

The difference between an executive assistant and a personal assistant lies in the duties they perform. The exact role of an EA or PA depends on your needs as their employer. But knowing the general tasks each type of assistant usually does will help you choose between an executive assistant vs. a personal assistant.

Roles of an Executive Assistant

An executive assistant works in the business side of your life. The role of an executive assistant can vary greatly depending on the company and industry. In general, an executive assistant is there to help you manage your work schedule, filter your communication, and help you be as productive as you can be during the working day.

Common Tasks Executive Assistants Handle:

  • Filtering and routing calls and emails
  • Calendar management
  • Scheduling and preparing meetings
  • Conducting research and creating reports
  • Attending meetings on your behalf and taking notes
  • Implementing office organization systems
  • Accounting and basic bookkeeping
  • Event and travel planning
  • Project support

Roles of a Personal Assistant

The key responsibilities of a personal assistant are in the name itself, personal. These are the people that help you manage your household and personal life. They are typically in your home while you’re not there, taking care of the errands and tasks you usually handle during your free time.

Common Tasks Personal Assistants Handle:

  • Shopping for groceries, household items, gifts, and more
  • Taking care of personal errands, e.g., picking up dry cleaning, going to the post office
  • Managing the family calendar
  • Scheduling appointments and meeting service providers
  • Basic household tidying
  • Organization projects
  • Paying bills
  • Planning events and travel
  • Taking children or pets to appointments
  • Meal preparation and cooking

Bottom Line: Executive Assistant vs. Personal Assistant

Hiring either an executive assistant or a personal assistant can make your life significantly more manageable and help you regain control over your time. But while the purpose and many of the skills of an EA and PA overlap, the two roles are not interchangeable. Without knowing the difference, you may end up hiring the wrong person for your needs.

When deciding which type of assistant to hire, think about which aspect of your life you need more help with. If you’re looking for someone to assist with your business needs around the office, an EA could be for you. But if you need someone to run personal errands and help out around the house, a PA is a better fit. Be as straightforward as possible about these needs when writing job listings and interviewing potential candidates.

Contact LifeSquire

If you still can’t choose between an executive assistant and a personal assistant, you might need both. Many busy entrepreneurs and executives prefer to have assistants for different aspects of their lives.

LifeSquire offers both personal assistant service and executive assistant recruiting and training. Contact LifeSquire to get matched with the perfect EA or PA for you.

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