After being offered a job I couldn’t refuse, I found myself in a position where I had to hand over my then current role in only a few weeks. Except my replacement would be starting after I had left – I didn’t even have her name yet! I was also time-poor due to the workload that existed regardless of said handover responsibility.

I did end up getting a phone call, a couple of weeks after my replacement had started, just to thank me for what I had left for her – it really was one of those #ProudPA moments

That phone call inspired me to write this article to help other assistants who have no one to pass the baton to, hurry or not.

Here it is list lovers:


Abandon The Written Procedure

I write notes when I’m learning a new role like I may have to hand it over again the next day – I didn’t expect to leave this role so quickly or have so much to learn though so my notes were in my version of shorthand!

I quickly realised I didn’t have time to do my job and write the manual for the complex role every assistant job evolves to be.

Luckily (very) I had just been asked to edit a how-to video my manager had recorded for our clients – it was the perfect timing to allow me to realise that I could keep doing my busy role and teach someone else how to do it at the same time using the screen recording software Camtasia by TechSmith.

If learning by doing isn’t your style, watch a couple YouTube videos or read up – you only need to learn the very basics and I found the quickest way was to start using it.

You can use the free trial version of Camtasia which will give you more than enough time (30 days at time of writing) to record your own how-to videos.

Keep in mind:

  • Try to start with a list of all the videos you want to create so that you can prioritise. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish in that order though – remember the idea is to allow you to go about your job per normal while recording.
  • This is only for your replacement, not a client so tame your inner perfectionist – repeat “only if I have time at the end”
  • Your replacement can put together the written procedure if this is their preference – they’ve got more time than you
  • You can work through each process as quickly as you need – don’t slow down to make it easier to follow, remember they will have a recording and can watch it 50 times if they need to. The benefit of recording is to save you time, so don’t waste time!
  • It is okay to include a couple of how-to instructions in one video – e.g. making a blog post go live could have a number of smaller tasks and I didn’t bother separating these as I was short on time. I also included instructions for other tasks while I was waiting for websites that 2+ minutes to load
  • Convert the first recording straight away to give you an idea of how much time to give yourself to convert the recordings into viewable movie files


Thank Donkeys for LastPass

Hopefully you’ve already joined me… if you haven’t heard, I’m a big LastPass fan girl – it made THE LIST.

You should already have all the login details your replacement will need in one folder, shared from the account of the person you support (or otherwise if you’re lucky enough to work somewhere that has LastPass Enterprise).


Index Your Job

Create one cheat sheet for your job. Include the full names, DOB, addresses, names of partner and children, calendar preferences (including personal commitments which are hard to identify when you support someone who feels strongly about you not being their personal personal assistant) . Then include where to find everything in alphabetical order, e.g.:


Articles – see Blog posts


Blog posts – see instruction video called ‘NAME’, or ask PERSON

Board Reports – saved here: (insert file path)



Passwords – see PERSON to get access to the login details I left in LastPass for you

Printer – Kwik Kopy (ph: ###, email: ***@…)


Security (if you’re privy to information not listed on standard induction manual)


Xero – PERSON is the real expert in the office



Creating an Alias Email

I asked my IT department to set up an email address with {jobtitle} (e.g. – no I didn’t work at apple, this is an example) because:

  • I wanted to start emailing my replacement, though I didn’t know her name yet
  • I started Cc’ing her on my emails so that she would know where projects were up to (and so that the person I was emailing knew that my replacement would still be expecting deadlines – no lost in the hand over excuses!)
  • I also emailed her seemingly insignificant details which normally wouldn’t make it into procedures – little things assistants notice which make the day run smoother – little things like:
    • Not to book specific meeting types before or after events such as webinars – a very person specific thing
    • The best and worst places for coffee
    • Who needs what type of prompting to deliver their share of the board papers
    • The best person to ask on different topics (e.g. the colleagues you discovered ((just lucky!)) are experts on a particular software program)
  • I gave that email account access to all of my inbox/sent items (for when IT don’t have time straight away once she had started)


Craft the Perfect Final Email

I’m not talking about that soppy email people send promising when they leave (Sarah Cooper sums up my thoughts on those in this funny article).

I am talking about a final email to ensure all the above effort isn’t wasted.  You’re the one who put the effort into this handover monster – don’t assume someone will tell your replacement it exists.

Assume the opposite.

Plan ahead – send a final email to the combination you think is appropriate – e.g. HR, IT and the person you support (Cc the alias email!!!), outlining what needs to be provided to your replacement when they start:

  • Access to the alias email {jobtitle} (yep, spell it out) for handover notes
  • Access to your email folders
  • Access/Edit rights for the following folders:
    • list the folders you can access on the network which have restricted access (so your replacement doesn’t have to log an IT ticket, like you did, every time they discover a folder they need access to you)
  • Access/Edit rights for the following emails and/or calendars:
    • If you’re supporting multiple people, list the type of access you have to each person’s inbox and calendar
    • Think of all the shared calendars you may have additional access to such as meeting room with full edit details
  • Attach the index list if created
  • Access to the right LastPass folder
  • Location of all the How To videos you created
  • Your contact details for any questions unanswered by the above

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Fiona Campbell is an executive virtual assistant, assisting clients with content marketing and social media. When she isn't writing articles for executive, personal and virtual assistant community, you'll find her having fun with her young children or listening to podcasts.

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