“What’s in a word?”

To educate

Looking for a great assistant – what are your expectations?


Have you ever wondered or considered what creates the difference between an executive/administrative assistant, a personal assistant, and a concierge?  Although the definition cannot be found in Webster’s dictionary, there is a true distinction from which the words have derived from the meaning of “to help, or assist.”  Having had the privilege to hold all three titles at some point and all titles at the same time depending on how my clients have established the relationship with me, I have unfortunately found their meanings are not one in the same and I have found that some people tend to blur the lines when requesting, “Help”.


An executive/administrative assistant may work virtually or in a corporate affiliation whereby he/she is required to adhere to certain policies, procedures set forth by the organization.  Thus it is understood that the organization, the executives, and information therein is legally protected when hiring these individuals.  Assignments might include meeting planning in-house and offsite, expense reports, travel logistics, client invoicing as well as being a bridge in communication between executive and client or executive and staff.  There may also be a requirement to know certain computer software program/applications in which some organizations offer incentives to acquire this expertise.  As an executive assistant, I have pulled together a team to facilitate meetings and events for several hundred or week-long off site events for as few as forty including meals and activities in addition to demonstrating my computer skills/knowledge.


A “personal assistant” is just that.  He or she might take care of any task matter that is personal to you.  A personal assistant has access to your life and there is a level of trust that is established over time in building this relationship.  This is not to be confused with a nanny or babysitter for your children.  He or she might pick up your dry cleaning, shop for a spouse’s birthday gift, assist you in planning an elaborate event, and take care of the weekly grocery shopping because going to the supermarket is not your cup of tea.  As a personal assistant I have a had the opportunity to create elaborate celebrations that including sit down dinners of 20 or more guest in local restaurants right down the personalized menu, flowers and gifts, or just simply running errands to  assist the client with their busy day.  In hiring a personal assistant, please remember this is someone who you have invited into your personal space.  It should be rare that the individual is called upon to demonstrate hard-core computer aptitude.  If the situations should arise, in which one would want one’s personal assistant to act as a personal assistant/clerk typist or secretary, it is good to remember that these are two or three different positions and should be acknowledged accordingly.  Ground rules and boundaries should be well thought out before seeking out an employee or someone to hire.


A concierge is by definition “the keeper of the keys”.  This could also come under home owner’s representative or caretaker.  Most people view a concierge as the figure at their beck and call in a well branded hotel chain, but the fact of the matter is there are well established private concierge services all across the country and the world.  In today’s market, they come under the title of “lifestyle management“.  These are companies or individuals that will assist you in creating your wildest dream or help you maintain your everyday life, by taking care of the little things so you have more time for yourself, family, and friends.  As a concierge, I have located the only Hyatt hotel in Armand, made reservations and schedule a massage for an arriving guest, assisted in making over a kitchen by recommending a specific designer or real estate agent in selling property and literally taken care of all aspects of a home owners property while they were on assignment elsewhere.


Overall, determine what your needs are and establish the guidelines before placing the advertisement.  If there is a need to answer emails and take phone messages, you might only need a clerk typist or receptionist and the price established might be appropriate.  However, if the work and security expectations are at a higher level, let the buyer or solicitor be aware.


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