Are you good at managing the strings of a kite? Can you walk “the tightrope”, successfully making many people happy without losing your cool? If yes, you may have the qualifications necessary to work as a personal assistant or estate manager. Starting salaries run $70,000 or higher and with experience you can earn in the six-figure range.
Meet Susie (not her real name), the new Chief of Staff for a woman with a large on-line business. People like Susie are usually hired by the rich and often famous– those who require an unshakable level of discretion and trust. Highly successful people have hired Susie to oversee their household staff, manage their family’s affairs and scheduling, and in general act as their personal concierge.
Years ago (before marriage and children) Susie was my administrative assistant at work, helping me remain calm during the emotional rollercoaster of working for a man with mental illness. Highly perceptive, unflappable, honest and loving, Susie never took anything personally– what happened at the office stayed at the office. She couldn’t be more perfect for this line of work.
Susie’s most recent job search began a year ago while she was still employed. She submitted hundreds of resumes, receiving a (very typical) 1% response rate. After applying for a position last summer, she learned that the job she applied for had been filled with another candidate. Several months later when Susie checked back about the same position she learned that the hire didn’t work out. She was invited to interview, was subsequently hired and couldn’t be happier with her new job.
Her advice to those who are interested in this line of work is to visit EstateJobs or Indeed and search for “estate manager”, “personal assistant”, or “butler”. There are also recruiting agencies (Homeland Staffing in Texas, The Lindquist Group in New York and many others) that specialize in this line of work. She advises tailoring your resume to the audience, giving greater prominence to any assistance you provided a boss in vacation planning, gift purchasing, managing his/her communications with other parents, etc. And be a “research fanatic” as she calls it because, as Susie says, “you have to be in this economy”. At this level in particular, you have to stand out. After the interview–especially if you really liked the recruiter or employer and you felt a connection–send/drop off/have delivered a small box of Godiva chocolates, a small bouquet of flowers or a book they mentioned. The next time you call to check in or reconnect they will remember you, and perhaps (as was Susie’s experience) they will be willing to take your call and try to be as helpful as possible.
Years from now, when CareerFuel is a well-known brand, I will be stealing Susie back. Meanwhile, I will be taking the calls, shuttling the kids, managing the calendar and wishing I had a wife or a husband who didn’t work two states away.