Behind every successful executive is a highly efficient executive assistant. From managing endless to-do lists, constant strategic meetings, and going beyond basic administrative tasks, executive assistants do everything to make their executive’s corporate life a success. 

This executive assistant job description guide will help you understand what an executive assistant does, their duties and responsibilities, the required skills, qualifications, salary and expectations, and how you can become one. 

What is an Executive Assistant?

An executive assistant is often known as the right hand of c-suite executives. They provide individualised support to senior-level executives and are responsible for ensuring that their superior has everything they need to get their job done efficiently. 

They’re the primary point of contact and are often referred to as gatekeepers of an executive’s time. Executive assistants are expected to be highly organised and good at thinking on their feet. They are constantly one step ahead and have several backup plans for each scenario. 

Executive assistants often have experience in business administration or project management. They anticipate the executive’s needs, organise their schedule, help with event planning, manage administrative duties, reconcile expenses, make travel arrangements, and are generally in charge of streamlining the executive’s workflow.

In essence, an executive assistant’s job description includes going above and beyond to make certain the business is heading the right way by ensuring the executive is always on top of everything they need.

The Difference between a Personal and an Executive Assistant

In some companies, the ‘executive assistant’ and ‘personal assistant’ job titles are interchangeable. It may not essentially be within their job description but executive assistants may perform tasks like getting their superior’s dry cleaning or getting flowers delivered on a friend’s birthday. 

In others, an executive assistant is a more senior role than a personal assistant and has additional responsibilities like administrative work and corporate governance. 

An executive assistant’s job description officially only includes helping the executive succeed in their corporate job. A personal assistant, on the other hand, is in charge of assisting an individual in organising their life overall, both personally and professionally.

Generally speaking, executive assistants are seen as fairly elite, at least when it comes to support staff. They frequently enjoy privileges, both in terms of resources and pay, not offered to other administrative assistants. 

The Executive Assistant job description

An executive assistant devotes their career to aiding a corporate official, usually by providing a combination of professional advice and administrative support. 

A significant part of an executive assistant’s job description is related to secretarial tasks like managing the executive’s calendar, official appointments, and important contacts. They’re the executives’ go-to people for ideas, recommendations, and confidential help. From faxing documents to press conference briefings, executive assistants help manage everything so the executives can focus on other essential things.

The role of the executive assistant is to make the executive’s corporate life easier. They frequently attend important business meetings with the boss and are expected to have in-depth knowledge of other attendees, depending on what the executive needs. An executive assistant’s job description may also include travelling with the executives on corporate trips.

In addition to managing the executive’s schedule, they are typically in charge of setting up meetings on their behalf, making sure the executive has the right briefing material and is ready to make any necessary presentations or statements.

However, the role of an executive assistant is not as glamorous as simply travelling and attending high-profile meetings.

Executive assistants are responsible for managing their executive’s paperwork. They spend the majority of their day managing the executive’s correspondence from calls, emails, inter-office memos, and official letters. They regularly work with other employees, from the HR department to the clerical staff, since they’re often involved in business projects. 

Duties and responsibilities of an Executive Assistant

The executive assistant’s responsibilities vary depending on the culture of the company, but there are some duties that all executive assistants are expected to perform. Here is a list of tasks that an executive assistant job description typically includes:

  • Accepting and making calls, taking messages, transferring calls, and handling email correspondence on behalf of the executive.
  • Scheduling and booking conference rooms and taking minutes
  • Managing the executive’s everyday schedule
  • Planning and organising team events and off-sites
  • Representing the executive on meetings they aren’t available to attend
  • Serving as the point of contact between the executive and office staff and stakeholders 
  • Researching and crafting internal documentation
  • Preparing and reviewing meeting briefs, reports, presentations, slide decks, and other documents like office memos and invoices
  • Overseeing travel arrangements
  • Onboarding and training support staff
  • Managing assistants and other lower-level administrative staff and delegating tasks
  • Accounting or bookkeeping and handling expense reports
  • Handling business events

Executive Assistant qualifications

Businesses usually prefer hiring executive assistants who hold some type of degree. A university degree serves as more of a badge of intellect for corporate recruiting managers than it does as a source of specific job-related expertise.

This does not, however, imply that you must have a college degree to work as an executive assistant. In fact, formal education is rarely more significant than experience.

Even though it could be challenging to land a job at the executive level right out of college, the most appealing applicant might just have a diploma but have spent many years working part-time as support staff in a corporate environment.

Companies are often more concerned with a candidate’s ability to do the job than with the schools listed on their resume. They prefer hiring assistants who have experience working with a high level of discretion and managing sensitive or confidential information. 

Executive assistants are expected to have excellent system skills – primarily with Word and Excel. Strong interpersonal skills, as well as strong verbal and written communication skills, are typically aspects that hiring managers look for. Executive assistants must be highly attentive to details and capable of working efficiently under pressure with continuously shifting priorities.

How to become an Executive Assistant?

An executive assistant often needs both formal education and real-world experience to land a job. Executives typically expect their assistants to be experts in the company’s policies and procedures in addition to being informed about the core office functionalities.

An individual may work in another capacity inside the organisation before moving up to the role of executive assistant. For example, many lower-level secretaries achieve an executive assistant position after demonstrating a strong work ethic.

Taking up training courses and obtaining administrative support certificates will help you stand out from the competition and may possibly even boost your earning potential.

How much do Executive Assistants make?

The base salary for executive assistants is around $100k – $130k per year in New York and £45k – 70k per year in the UK.

Key skills required to become an Executive Assistant 

  1. Time management skills

Executive assistants work in a fast-paced environment where all their tasks have high stakes. Not only do they have to manage their executive’s schedule, but they also have added responsibilities that they need to prioritise. 

Scheduling and rescheduling meetings and appointments, handling travel arrangements, and other administrative duties are some of the responsibilities they must take care of. Additionally, they also need to manage any urgent tasks that constantly come their way during the day. 

To ensure that they keep their executive’s workflow on track, executive assistants need exceptional time management skills to be successful in their roles. 

  1. Interpersonal skills

Executive assistants often interact with important clients and customers alongside the company staff on behalf of the executives they serve. Therefore, they need strong interpersonal skills like problem-solving, emotional intelligence, leadership, and teamwork to work through different situations efficiently.

Executive assistants should know how to handle or overcome challenges and conflicts within the workplace. How diplomatically can you manage disagreements within the workplace? Can you take constructive criticism? Do you have the skills to diffuse a heated discussion? How well can you handle angry client or customer phone calls or emails?

Executive assistants need to have the ability to step into other people’s shoes. They need skills like empathy and compassion to uplift the energy of the workplace and build an inclusive company culture. 

Executive assistants should also have recognisable leadership qualities to train and manage lower-level administrative employees. They should be dependable and find ways to help their colleagues be more efficient. 

  1. Organisational skills

Organisational skills are one of the most important skills for any type of admin role. From physical records to online drives, an executive assistant should have efficient filing systems for an office or business to function smoothly.

An executive assistant’s job description includes juggling various tasks, like organising meetings and handling travel arrangements. Without exceptional organisational skills, executive assistants may not be able to perform all these tasks in an efficient manner or may even fall behind and lose track of critical details.

  1. Communication skills 

Executive assistants must be very skilled communicators to efficiently correspond with executives, stakeholders, and high-level clients. They should be able to control their vocal tones, like using a friendly tone while welcoming people and understanding situations that require strict formality.

They should also understand the right length and communication medium for different situations. While a simple office memo can work for some cases, others need a detailed report or a formal email. 

Executive assistants may also have to manage other support staff; therefore, they should be able to provide clear and concise instructions and communicate respectfully.

  1. Computer skills

Executive assistants need basic tech skills to manage their work efficiently. In cases where the executives aren’t tech-savvy, the executive assistants need to stay on top of the current technology to make their lives easier, which requires more than just basic computer skills.

At a bare minimum, executive assistants should know how to create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets using Microsoft Office or Google Suite. They should have the skill to pick up new software programs quickly and be comfortable with online communication and research.

Final thoughts

Senior-level executives have a lot of things on their plate, and they need an excellent executive assistant to make their corporate life easier. Even though working as an executive assistant might be demanding, it’s the ideal position for someone seeking a challenging and dynamic professional field with the required skills.

If you’re looking for an executive assistant job role, Joss Search can help you find executive assistant jobs in top equity and alternative investment firms. 

You can take a look at our live vacancies or chat with our friendly consultants about your upcoming career steps. We’re waiting to help on 020 3096 7050 and hello@josssearch.com.

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