Charlotte Biss did not have years of experience working as an Executive Assistant when RMS Recruitment put her forward for a top EA job working for the CEO at luxury brand Clive Christian. What she did have was bags of personality, drive and transferrable skills which made her stand out from a more experienced field. Read Charlotte's story and be inspired to strive for the top EA jobs in London.
WHAT WAS YOUR BACKGROUND BEFORE WORKING AS EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT AT CLIVE CHRISTIAN?
After graduating with a 2:1 BSc Hons in Exercise, Nutrition and Health from Oxford Brookes University, I temped for a year before working as an Executive Assistant and Events Co-coordinator at Centaur and Buy Time. These roles helped me to develop my organisational skills and become adept at prioritising and handling multiple deadlines.
What attracted you to working as a PA?
My friends and family suggested I work as PA or Executive Assistant as I was always trying to organise their lives for them! Although I loved working in Events, I was attracted to the idea of working with one person for a brand or company I valued.
How did you hear about RMS Recruitment?
I had registered with RMS Recruitment in London years ago during the year I had spent temping. They were one of 5 or 6 agencies I registered with and they had really stood out for taking care of their candidates, so I remembered the name when I came to look for more permanent roles.
What was it that attracted you to the role as Executive Assistant at Clive Christian?
I am not really the personality for traditional corporate environments so I was excited by the idea of working for a luxury brand. I was also aware that roles like this rarely come up -Executive Assistant to Clive Christian Group CEO Amy Nelson-Bennett, working in Mayfair. It sounded more than interesting and I knew the salary would be good for the right candidate.
What was your first reaction to the proposal to interview for the job at Clive Christian?
I was pleasantly surprised when RMS Recruitment put their faith in me and agreed to put me forward. I knew it was a senior role and thought my experience wouldn't necessarily meet their requirements. I was really happy to be considered at all!
What was your interview like at Clive Christian and how did you prepare?
I researched the brand as much as I could ahead of the interview. RMS really helped me prepare and briefed me on the company and the culture. Amy interviewed me initially. I was incredibly nervous as I knew she would ask lots of competence- based questions but it seemed to go well. The second interview was with Amy again but I was also interviewed by Clive Christian himself as well as the Operations Manager. They had to be sure I would be the right fit.
Why do you think you got the job?
Amy told me afterwards that mine was the shortest interview but she liked the fact that I gave very clear and concise answers to her interview questions. Amy works at a million miles an hour and that suits my work style too. I also think it helped that we lead similarly healthy lifestyles, both hitting the gym before work!
What are your qualities which make you good at your job?
I am efficient, fast and always meet deadlines where possible. I am sufficiently organised and prioritise well so that when things happen at short notice I am able to rearrange my day accordingly. I exercise a lot so that helps me have the energy I need for the job.
How are you finding your new job?
There have been no real surprises but as I anticipated, it is an extremely interesting company to work for and an incredibly varied role. Whereas I had previously worked for several clients at once I am enjoying supporting just Amy and getting to know the brand. It's a change working for one person, but a positive one.
What are the most challenging aspects of working as PA to a top executive?
I had perhaps underestimated how fast-paced it would be but I'm getting used to it after just 2 months in the job! I am responsible for the office management so it's a lot to juggle at once and I hate letting things slip. There are always so many balls up in the air at one time!
What role did your recruitment agency play in getting you the job?
RMS were very good at providing detailed background information on the company and role. They also gave me lots of support to prepare for the interview questions and gave me a useful checklist before the interview. They also gave really thorough feedback they had received from Amy after the first interview so that I knew how to overcome the potential barriers to me getting the job before the 2nd interview.
We hear you are already using RMS to recruit others to your team?
Yes, our office coordinator left during my first week in the role so I was immediately tasked with working with RMS to recruit the replacement. From candidate to client within a week!
What advice would you give other people looking to work in similar jobs?
Don't be afraid to apply for a job you love because you think you are underqualified. Don't be scared by your lack of experience as your personality could be the perfect match. Clive Christian were wary of my inexperience but liked my personality and drive enough to hire me! Like many candidates, I had the wrong perception of recruitment agencies. If you work with the right one, they really can help you get your dream job.