Have PA roles become much more stressful, or am I past it?

(49 Posts)
dreamofastressfreelife Wed 13-Mar-19 23:50:13

I'll have to change details here as this could be outing. I worked abroad for many years, and have a good education (finance, law), excellent organisational and administration skills, and excellent technical skills. I have moved back to the North of England and wanted a 'nice' admin job. I find myself in a PA job where I am working flat out all day, simply due to the amount of demands placed on me. I handle it all, well, but I hate every minute and am wrung out and exhausted and stressed post work every day. My boss is not a nice person - I feel I am a minion to be dumped upon. I am scared to move to another PA job in case this is now just the norm. I'm scared to apply for something like Project Management in case that would be even more stressful. I'm scared to try to do something like become a postman in case I then deskill myself out of work that I now hate. I suppose my questions are: for long term PAs, has the job changed dramatically over the past 20 years, or was I just lucky in the past having a more interesting, manageable workload and pleasant boss; 2 has anyone got to the point where they just can't bear it any more, and moved into another sort of role which seems less frenetic/friendly...fun?

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Sarcelle Wed 13-Mar-19 23:59:03

Don't have any knowledge of PA role, but at least you should try another PA role on the off chance you are currently in a bad one. It wouldn't be any worse?

HarrietSchulenberg Thu 14-Mar-19 00:29:52

A PA role is very dependent on the demands and personality of the boss as you work so closely with them.
A good boss will understand that you have limits, will give you the autonomy to manage your workload and will listen when you advise them you are at capacity.
A poor and weak boss will treat you like a workhorse and not respect you.
I'd suggest you try another boss as yours sounds like they're not very good at managing what should be a strong relationship.

SingingSands Thu 14-Mar-19 00:48:40

I think you've correctly identified the problem: your boss.

dreamofastressfreelife Thu 14-Mar-19 01:34:25

Thank you! I managed a wry chuckle there...

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Decormad38 Thu 14-Mar-19 02:14:19

I think it also depends on your skills. Maybe you have become a little deskilled with being away for a while and your boss has picked up on that. I say this because I have someone who is lovely working with me currently but she struggles with some elements of the role and I find myself doing it because Im quicker. That isn’t a good use of my time.

dreamofastressfreelife Thu 14-Mar-19 02:27:55

No decormad - I am very highly skilled. My boss is chaotic, contradicts themselves, can't spell, can't read a simple spreadsheet/financial statement, can't follow a map to a hotel, can't check themselves in for a fight...

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FinallyHere Thu 14-Mar-19 02:39:34

* My boss is not a nice person - I feel I am a minion to be dumped upon.*

Find someone decent to work for.

The person or people with whom you work are much more important IMO that the actual role. But then, judging by your latest post, I think you really know that already.

Are there opportunities within your current organisation to move bosses ? Where I am at the moment, there are a few people whose PA's seize any chance to move on. New PA's tend to be recruited for them, and then if they are good move in to someone who is nicer to them.

mimibunz Thu 14-Mar-19 02:46:05

Find a new boss. Too many people these days have PAs and don’t deserve them because they don’t know how to use them properly. Sounds like he needs a couple of admins.

Polarbearflavour Thu 14-Mar-19 14:39:18

I used to be a PA.

My last role started out as a 1:1 role then become a 3:1 role! PAs are seen as low skilled and replaceable. At least in London I was earning nearly 40k, secretarial roles in the regions seem to be paying 18-22k!

It’s not the job it used to be. I think with increasing automation and outsourcing (is it EY that has outsourced some PA roles to Eastern Europe/China/India?) PA jobs are not going to be around that much longer.

dreamofastressfreelife Thu 14-Mar-19 15:17:58

Thanks polarbearflavour for the insight. I suppose I may be grateful for having a job , for now, and just ride this out. I’m in a large institution, and although other opportunities are as rare as hens teeth...perhaps my tenacity and institutional experience will stand me in good stead for a lateral move...(she says, in an uncharacteristicly more positive way!)

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Polarbearflavour Thu 14-Mar-19 15:20:07

I would look and see what other roles you can move into. Project support, office management, finance, HR, health and safety?

Megan2018 Thu 14-Mar-19 15:21:15

It's not like that here for my PA's - but I'm in the HE sector

It is very busy but the people are overwhelmingly nice. I'd look for something in that arena - the pay isn't high but there are far more perks.

dreamofastressfreelife Thu 14-Mar-19 16:37:01

Thanks all for your insights, it has helped. I do welcome more pa talk, as I’ve no network here. I have talked to some colleagues in lateral move roles and I definitely think moving towards project management might be my goal. Honestly, who will want a 68 year old PA?!

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Loopytiles Thu 14-Mar-19 16:39:08

As PPs say, your boss sounds like a PITA!

KateAlexander Thu 14-Mar-19 16:53:01

I’m an EA (similar just more business focused) and I think every role just depends solely on your boss. If you get on with each other and can work well together then the job works for both. My boss is extremely demanding and impatient but it’s my job to understand that and help him try not to get to these stages!

An ea/pa is the only person in the business that makes the CEO’s life easier not harder! When they understand this you’re treated with respect. I’ve had bosses like yours and I now judge interviews very carefully to ensure we’re a personality match as much as a role match.

Polarbearflavour Thu 14-Mar-19 16:54:57

I worked for a nasty woman when I was temping at a local council. I walked out after a month!

My best bosses have been male directors within banking in the City.

SnuggleSnuggleBlanket Fri 15-Mar-19 10:58:53

I would look and see what other roles you can move into. Project support, office management, finance, HR, health and safety?

I would also suggest the same. I took on a PA in my HR function as a HR assistant, best decision I made. She’s amazing. Efficient, capable and has skills that I haven’t got. I love her and she’s worked her way up to HR business partner.

Whippit Fri 15-Mar-19 11:02:22

I work in the NHS as a PA. Very much dependent on your boss. One consultant has had the same PA for 16 years. The other is on his third PA in under a year. He's a dick!

PrincessScarlett Fri 15-Mar-19 11:17:23

I worked as a PA for 20 years. The role has definitely changed. A lot of firms have changed the label of legal secretaries to PAs which actually downgrades the traditional PA role as everyone is now a PA.

I've been PA to several lawyers over the years. Some want a PA in the traditional sense but in my experience and most recently PAs have been treated like dirt by bosses who don't deserve one and the role isn't as interesting, proactive or ambitious as it used to be.

In your shoes OP I would move jobs as not all bosses are dicks but in my case I increasingly worked for more dicks than nice bosses and decided to career change.

dreamofastressfreelife Fri 15-Mar-19 12:05:52

Thanks for all the feedback - PrincessScarlett, may I asked what you changed to? I'm looking for inspiration!

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f83mx Fri 15-Mar-19 12:49:13

Apt timing for this thread for me! I’m considering pushing send on a private sector EA application but would be moving out of public sector if was successful - salary higher than I’m on now but just thinking about how many hours/stress/loss of flexibility id be sacrificing for a bit more dough/change of scene. Gah.... feels like a risk!!

PrincessScarlett Fri 15-Mar-19 12:51:57

Dream, I had a complete career change to childcare. Although dealing with stroppy bosses is much like dealing with stroppy children!!

mummyofdaughters Fri 15-Mar-19 12:55:18

All depends on the job spec and environment and what is expected of you. Before I became a sahm I was on £50k as a PA at a venture capital firm in London. I was expected to answer phone calls and emails at night and on the weekends though and dealing with complex and time sensitive issues.

Polarbearflavour Fri 15-Mar-19 13:11:50

I was a PA in banking. I much preferred it to the private sector. I was never expected to be online in the evenings or weekends. I had a Blackberry and a laptop and could work from home two days a week.

There is much more money obviously! I got to travel abroad and fly business class which you don’t get in the public sector. My bosses were much nicer than in the NHS/local government/civil service.

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