Why don’t you use me more?

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Why won’t you use me more?

The often heard cry of frustration from a professional PA/EA resonates through the office – except it isn’t; this is what they scream inside their own heads, but rarely out loud where it might make a difference.

 Every year ISE Partners produces a Market Report that looks in detail at what PAs and EAs want from their employer, who they are and what makes them tick.  We publish it and duly deliver our findings which are always well received.  But does it make a difference to how companies behave towards their assistants?  Can they innovate beyond a job title to really harness what they have in their talent pool?  The evidence points to ‘no’ being the generic answer.

 This year we find that the steady climb in required educational achievements continues; over 75% of the PA & EA roles we hired for in 2014 required a graduate, and of those we find that strong academic subjects and a notable university were also required.   While the tasks that these high-achieving candidates can perform in these are complex and require application of the grey matter, they are not often analyst/investment professional duties; so why do the hiring managers stand firm that the applicant cannot be considered without a strong academic performance?   Or, more importantly, why are the companies then not engaging this confirmed intellect in such a way as to garner greater results for the company and increase the prospects of the person in the role?

Something we are seeing more and more frequently from some of the highest performing funds we represent is the emergence of the ‘hybrid’ EA role.   As belts tighten and investors ask for more transparency about how their management fees are spent, the innovators of this sector are looking to how they can get more for less; they’re exploring the untapped talent and resources that they have at their fingertips and that has hitherto gone unused.

 Just this month ISE Partners has recruited two such roles, an IR Analyst/EA to IR Team and an EA/Research Assistant.  Both roles have been successfully hired for and all parties happy.  How did we do it?  The IR role was a battle of the wills between a need and a want – with a strong team already in place (all of whom had slightly different ideas how this new position would develop), there were many roads to cross before we found the perfect blend of skills, experience and motivation.    The role will provide full administrative support to a busy and diverse team across all areas of IR for the fund, but will also have responsibilities beyond the scope of an ‘EA’ role and eating into the traditional ‘Analyst’ tasks.

The result: A graduate EA with strong experience who is now building a career that will enable her to develop in a slightly different direction, should she choose to do so.   The company has an employee who is incredibly motivated, grateful for the opportunity and with increased loyalty.  They have also put this person in a position which means they are highly unlikely to lose her for some considerable time to come.   This ‘hybrid’ role is neither one thing nor the other; happily occupying the void between EA and IR Associate and performing well under both, but not experienced enough to move into a fully-fledged IR role and highly unlikely to revert to a ‘standard’ EA position.  Clever.

We took the same ethos with the Research Assistant role and found someone that little bit special; someone who perhaps in a different life wouldn’t have been in the admin field at all.

The thing is a good EA is always that little bit special.  They know the business, know the investors, and understand how things piece together.  They are (if you have it right) your culture-carriers and have insight beyond their own desks because of the very job they do.   Have you taken stock of what you’ve got?

When it comes to pulling together that next job description and working out how you can take things to the next stage, look at what you have already in your organisation and work out how to use it better.  Perhaps it’s a tough conversation because the CEO doesn’t want to lose his EA to the IR team, but chances are he’s going to lose her anyway if she doesn’t get something meatier to chew on soon.   Better to keep that knowledge and talent in your firm rather than have to start again with someone new.

 You might say this is an odd approach from a recruiter, persuading you not to hire a new person!  At ISE Partners we work with our client partners.   We’re not about the big fees; we’re about the big relationships.  ISE Partners is in touch with what is happening in the employment market which means we are in a unique position to advise, consult and discuss real options for you.