Executive assistants perform administrative and managerial tasks for executives in a variety of settings. They help executives keep track of appointments, manage their schedules, and keep up with correspondence. Executive assistants may also help with travel arrangements and expense reports, and some assist in hiring and supervising other employees.
Executive assistants may work for government agencies, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Some may specialize in administrative, financial, or human resources tasks.
Executive Assistant Job Duties
The duties of an executive assistant can vary depending on the company and industry, but some common responsibilities include:
- Organizing, scheduling, and managing the day-to-day tasks of executives
- Drafting letters, reports, minutes of meetings, correspondence, and other documents for executive review
- Answering and routing incoming phone calls and emails
- Managing expenses for office space, equipment, materials, events, etc.
- Conducting research such as background checks on applicants or employees or tracking down hard-to-find sources of information
- Greeting visitors and providing them with assistance
- Coordinating travel arrangements, including flights, hotels and ground transportation
- Maintaining databases of contacts, calendars, and other relevant information
An executive assistant’s role is to free up their boss’ time so they can focus on the tasks that only they can do. They often have a high level of trust with their bosses because they’re privy to sensitive information.
Executive Assistant Salary & Outlook
As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for executive assistants was $40,990. The top 10% of earners brought home $67,510 annually.
executive assistant jobs are expected to decline 9% between 2019-2029. However, there will be some growth in the medical sector, as the baby boomer population continues to age.
In the coming years, the role of an executive assistant will evolve as technology continues to advance. However, the core duties of these professionals will remain the same.
Executive Assistant Job Requirements
The requirements for executive assistants are as follows:
Education: The minimum educational requirement for this role is a high school diploma or GED. However, many employers prefer at least an associate’s degree. There are many associate’s degree programs available that focus on office administration or business management.
Training: Most executive assistant jobs require candidates to complete on-the-job training. This training includes information on the company’s mission and vision and how to support the executives and departments within the company. As executive assistants require prior experience in administration or secretarial work, they will have received more intense on-the-job training in their earlier positions.
Certifications: Certifications are not required for this job, but many executive assistants pursue optional credentials to improve their skills and increase their earning potential. The Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) is one common certification for assistants.
Executive Assistant Skills
In addition to education and experience, executive assistants need a variety of other “soft skills” to help them succeed:
Organizational skills: Executive assistants must be able to handle a great deal of information, keep track of schedules, and prioritize tasks.
Communication skills: Executive assistants must be able to communicate effectively with clients, executives, and coworkers.
Confidence: The job requires self-confidence as well as an ability to make difficult decisions while under pressure.
Ability to learn on the job: This kind of work is best for people who can figure out how to do things without being told. It’s important that you have the initiative to go beyond what you’re asked to do and take on new responsibilities as they arise.
Conflict resolution skills: Executive assistants often handle conflicts between executives and other employees or between different departments within the company.
Executive Assistant Work Environment
Executive assistants typically work in the office of a business executive, and they are often the first person the executive sees in the morning and the last person the executive sees at night. They often have to work irregular hours and be available to take care of the boss’s needs at all times.
Executive assistants are often required to travel with their boss, and to be able to handle their workload while they are away. They also need to be proficient in a variety of business-related computer applications, including word processing and spreadsheets.
Executive Assistant Career Advancement
The job of an executive assistant is to be the go-to person for her boss. As you gain experience, you may be able to move into a more managerial role, like office manager or operations manager, which will allow you to influence more decisions and have greater control over your own schedule.
As an executive assistant, you’ll learn the ins and outs of being an effective leader. You’ll develop strong communication skills, pay attention to details, and be able to multitask. These skills are valuable in any position, so when you’re ready to take on a new challenge at work, you’ll be well prepared.
Executive Assistant Trends
Here are three trends influencing how Executive Assistants work. Executive Assistants will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Expanding Scope of Work
Executive assistant jobs continue expanding into other areas related to a company’s general management rather than just serving solely as administrative support staff–for example, many modern-day executive assistants take on tasks like negotiating deals with suppliers or managing email marketing campaigns.
Data Protection for Organizations
The ever-increasing threat of data breaches has made it important for organizations to take extra precautions when handling sensitive information, including establishing strict security protocols and safeguarding sensitive documents or records from unauthorized access with an airtight locking system.
This trend is largely driven by regulatory changes such as the GDPR, which places stricter requirements on companies that handle personal data and requires all organizations to comply with privacy laws going forward (or face hefty fines).
Collaboration & Flexibility
Collaborative work environments are becoming increasingly common, both within offices and across teams spread out across the country or world. This shift requires flexible collaboration tactics for supporting remote workers with telecommuting technology like Skype, Slack, and Zoom— as well as setting aside time when all team members can come together in person to go over big project updates or complete tasks that cannot be accomplished online without live demonstrations from each team member present.
How to Become a Executive Assistant
1. Planning Your Career Path
When deciding on a career path, it is important to take into account your interests and skills. If you are an organized person who has experience managing other people’s schedules, becoming an executive assistant might be the right choice for you.
Aspiring assistants should have good communication skills as well as a willingness to learn new software programs and administrative processes; in many cases, these professionals work directly with senior-level executives so being able to understand their goals is also vital. You will also want to ensure that this position fits with your lifestyle needs because many assistants must be available after business hours or travel frequently.
2. Writing a Resume
The key to writing a successful executive assistant resume is highlighting your experience and skills that will help you excel in the position. While this job may seem straightforward, there are many responsibilities involved. You must be organized, have strong time management skills, and be proficient with multiple computer programs including Microsoft Office.
The most effective resumes for executive assistants highlight these attributes while also providing specific examples of how they were used to benefit the company.
3. Applying for Jobs
With your career in mind, take the time to make a list of your target companies and positions. Doing so will make it easier to tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly. If you’re not sure what the requirements are for the role you want, find someone who has held that position and reach out for advice; this is a great way to learn more about what the job entails and if you’re truly interested in it.
4. Ace the Interview
In order to succeed in an interview as an executive assistant candidate, it is important to have an understanding of the executive’s work style and personality. You should research the executive ahead of time and determine what the best ways to communicate with them are. You should also ask questions about the company’s business to demonstrate your interest in the position.
Body language is important as well. Keep your hands still, use good posture, and make eye contact. Be friendly and outgoing, but not overly so.