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What skills do you need to be employable as a PA in your 50s?


Interview with Lesley-Anne Hornbogen

In today’s highly competitive employment market we all need to ensure that we keep our skills and qualifications up to date. This is as true for women in their fifties as it is for any other age group.

For anyone who is looking to seek a role as a personal assistant or administrative support, it is important to understand what systems and applications are in demand and  which will provide you with a competitive edge when applying for a new post.
You may have been highly efficient in your previous role, but if your employer was not investing in new technology, through no fault of your own, you may have fallen behind the skills curve.
We asked Virtual PA, Lesley- Anne Hornbogen of On The Go what systems and applications she feels are essential to help make you shine when looking for a new role.

Q.  Lesley-Anne, what are the applications which are used most on a daily basis?
A.   All the Microsoft Office applications i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher and  Outlook as well as digital transcription software i.e. Speech Exec Pro   Some PA’s will need to  have good knowledge of Skype to arrange conference calls, or Go To Meeting

Q.  What social media platforms should people be proficient with?
A.   Certainly the main four which I consider to be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

The Best Way to stay on top of New Tools in Social Media

Q.  What is the best way to stay on top of new tools in this field?
A.   By setting up your own profiles first you will get a good understanding of how Social Media  works. Utilising sites such as Mashable, Social Media Examiner and TechCrunch will keep you  up to date with all the various platforms and what’s new.   Following someone like  Marie Smith will help keep you up to date.  Social Media changes every minute of the day,  everyone has their own opinion on it with regard to what’s right and what’s wrong.  My  general rule of thumb is don’t put anything out on social media that you wouldn’t be prepared  to say face to face.

Q.  Do you have to attend courses or can you be trained on these via online training?
A. You can learn Microsoft Office applications on line as well as over Skype through a trainer  such as Mary Thomas of Concise Training.  Make use of the Web first, there are a lot of free  trainings available before you consider paying.  YouTube is another excellent resource.
Q.  What general advice would you give?
A. Never be afraid to ask for help either on-line or off.  There will be somebody out there who  can help you.  One of the marvels of Social Media and the Internet is you have a global  audience to ask.   Likewise give your advice back freely.  Starting something new whether that  is a new job, new skill is always daunting at first – take each step at a time.  If you are starting  up your own business make sure you have researched other people who are in the same line  of work you will be doing.  Don’t view them as competition, get to know them, ask them  questions, you will find they are only too happy to pass on their advice, the pitfalls they  encountered when they first set up and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

I was made redundant just before I turned 50. Although this was a shock I’ve never looked back. I knew I didn’t want to have to work for anyone other than myself and so armed with my experience as a PA set up On The Go as a Virtual Assistant in November 2007 providing on-line secretarial and social media services.

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