Friday, January 21, 2011


In addition to my job as a recruiter, I am also a psychotherapist. Not licensed or anything, just by default. I spend HOURS on the phone with clients and candidates discussing why things aren't working out. Often times, this happens when I am in a public place and am trying to do something else (ALWAYS multitasking). So usually, people will hear only one side of the conversation and it usually goes something like this -

Hi...I'm good. And you?

small talk...then...

"Uh huh...I understand you wanted clear labels and she did opaque."

3-5 minutes of silence

"No...I can't blame you for being upset that your driver showed up 10 minutes late...all of the calendars should've been synced."

5 minutes of silence

"I don't think you're crazy AT all" (eyes roll). It's DEFINITELY not you (even though this is your FOURTH assistant in ONE year). You're the boss and either she does it the way you want it, or don't keep her."

10 minutes of silence

"Really? She TOLD you she was taking day off instead of asking you. No, I believe you..."

2 minutes of silence followed by a bunch of "uh huhs" and "yups."

"Not a problem. I will look for someone else. Like I always, say, there's a lid for every pot and she's just not your lid!"

And there you have it...basically this is why I can't stop biting my nails. The littlest thing can cause a deal to fall apart...I mean I do sell PEOPLE for a living. Everyone has an ego, an agenda or some warped idea of what it's going to be like working for a socialite/celebrity/high level executive as their assistant. I can't tell you the number of people who think being an assistant is "easy." But I can tell you FIRST HAND that other than being a mom, it's one of the more difficult professions (probably because it's like being a mom at the office). Having to check your power to think, reason or rationalize, along with your ego at the door is not for the weak or feeble minded. As someones assistant you have to be ready, willing and able to conform to their every whim. Sure, there are bosses out there who give COMPLETE autonomy and are wonderful to work for, but those are the minority.  All assistants need rhino thick skin, the ability to do 8,290,699 tasks at once, and know the answer to a question, three minutes before it's asked. It takes a special person to be able to completely manage another person's life, EXACTLY the way they want it. I'm talking window or aisle seat; blue folders with red labels vs. white folders with clear ones; coffee with two splendas and a splash of skim, NO FOAM; two black pens, one blue pen and yellow legal pad in the right corner of their desk...the devil's in the details and your boss has horns, a tail and a pitchfork!

I tip my hats to the career assistants who have devoted their lives to taking care of their bosses...making sure that they get to their meetings on time, their wives get flowers on valentines day and their coffee is on their desk, HOT, exactly the way they like it. This job is not for everyone...but for the chosen few who have conquered this beast, they are often rewarded handsomely. I know one assistant who upon returning to her boss after a brief hiatus, was given a $4M house in the Hamptons. Or another who drove her jaguar to work courtesy of her boss of 20 years. Huge cash bonuses, trips around the world and the best seats in the house are just some of the perks assistants receive. But those are rarities. Most just get their check every two weeks, a bonus at the end of the year and a thank you every now and then. Remember, it's work after all...if it was anything other than tedious and necessary, it'd be called something else.

I've met some amazing assistants during my ten years in the business...many of which I've placed in their jobs and still speak with today. They are the best there is and from them I've heard, seen and learned so much. So don't get me wrong...being an assistant can be tremendously just have to be the right person for the job. Because ultimately, there's a little micro-managing meshugana in all of us.

Good night and happy job hunting,
The Job Yenta

1 comment:

  1. For some reason, I really love this particular post. I can't put my finger on exactly what it is... Hmmm...