The general job duties of a secretary can vary, and a special type of secretary who works exclusively for one person is known as a personal secretary. This employee will play a support role that tends to the professional needs of an individual, usually an executive or other important organizational leader, rather than to a group of people within an office. The specific job duties of a personal secretary may include maintaining a schedule, contacting vendors, booking travel, organizing meetings, maintaining contact with the press, and much more.
The personal secretary's role can shift from day to day as the needs of an employer changes. Much of the secretary's work may take place in an office, and he or she may be responsible for filing paperwork, keeping track of invoices and other payment paperwork, answering phone calls and e-mails, meeting with clients or other office visitors, and in some cases even overseeing a staff of assistants. Outside of the office, a personal secretary may travel with an employer, book hotel reservations and flights, and tend to other professional needs of the employer while out of the office.
In most cases, the personal secretary will have worked in a particular industry or office for many years as an entry-level or mid-level secretary before advancing. Many secretaries earn post-secondary certificates in order to become better qualified for higher responsibility positions. It may also be necessary to earn some qualifications that are specific to an industry; this is especially important if the personal secretary will be handling paperwork that pertains directly to the industry. In a medical setting, for example, the secretary may need to take a class on medical terminology so he or she understands various terms used to classify certain paperwork. Law secretaries will need to understand various types of legal terminology in order to manage paperwork or other correspondence that pertains to the job.
It is important for the personal secretary to be extremely adaptable, as his or her responsibilities can change moment to moment. The job can be fairly high stress in some settings, and some employers will be far more demanding than others. An ability to communicate effectively is essential, as the secretary will spend much of his or her time coordinating with others, interacting with the public, and managing correspondence on behalf of her employer or employers. In some instances, the secretary may attend more than one employer, which means he or she will need to balance multiple workloads.