Executive Assistants are the right-hand men and women who provide direct support to company executives and politicians, managing their schedules and setting up their appointments. They plan, organize, coordinate, and control all administrative and operational procedures, activities, and documentation.
Unlike Administrative Assistants, Executive Assistants also give out professional advice and recommendations, in addition to completing a variety of clerical tasks. They often act as representatives, liaising with individuals and organizations on behalf of executives, and may coordinate Public Relations activities.
Even though the term “Assistant” and the term “Secretary” are often used interchangeably, it has to be noted that the first term has been slowly replacing the latter, which is, in most cases, considered an outdated and inadequate term.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Executive Assistants are required to complete.
- Acting as a liaison and first point of contact with internal and external customers, vendors, and team members, interacting with them in a professional and timely manner:
- Responding to information requests, preparing the necessary documentation and ensuring follow-up actions; and
- meeting with individuals, special interest groups, and others on behalf of executives, discussing issues and providing recommendations.
- Reviewing and filtering all incoming and outgoing mail, calls, emails, and faxes:
- Analyzing incoming and outcoming memoranda, submissions, and reports;
- coordinating messenger and courier service with preferred vendors;
- continuously monitoring, responding to, and forwarding incoming emails; and
- updating and maintaining existing contact lists.
- Creating and reviewing written communications, reports, presentations, and spreadsheets:
- Conducting research and generating reports by collecting data from various tools and/or consolidating it into reports; and
- submitting summary briefs and reports to executives, committees, and boards of directors.
- Managing the executive’s professional and personal calendar and meeting requests, coordinating appointments and ensuring everything runs in a smooth, timely manner:
- Ensuring tasks and projects are completed within deadlines;
- booking conference rooms and other meeting locations;
- securing venues and coordinating catering and other logistics when planning bigger events;
- preparing meeting agendas so as to maximize time efficiency;
- taking notes during meetings and writing summaries; and
- handling travel and lodging arrangements.
- Filing and organizing paper and electronic documents, such as emails, reports, and other administrative records:
- Converting paper documents to digital using a scanner; and
- assisting with data entry and database maintenance.
- Ordering missing supplies and maintaining inventory, replacing materials and equipment as needed or instructed.
- Understanding and keeping up-to-date with the business’ organization structure, policies, goals, and objectives.
- Managing and reporting expenses:
- In some cases, performing accounting-related tasks, such as bookkeeping and invoicing.
- Reviewing and filtering all incoming and outgoing mail, calls, emails, and faxes.
- Managing an executive’s daily schedule, setting up professional and personal appointments.
- Acting as a liaison and first point of contact with individuals and organizations.
- Performing searches and providing information and recommendations.
- Preparing presentations, documents, and other reports.
- Filing and organizing paper and electronic documents, such as emails, reports, and other administrative records.
The average Executive Assistant salary is $49,834 per year or $26 per hour. This is around 1.5 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $35,000 while most experienced workers make up to $70,000. These results are based on 768 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Exceptional organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities as to use time efficiently while handling a high volume, diverse workload; and
- multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
- High levels of initiative, flexibility, and responsiveness:
- Being able to learn and adapt quickly, while facing continuously changing demands.
- Great attention to detail and high levels of thoroughness.
- Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to build trust and cultivate relationships with clients, coworkers, and executives;
- displaying impeccable and professional phone demeanor;
- having a friendly and engaging personality in order to foster and maintain positive relationships; and
- displaying strong customer service skills in order to anticipate others’ needs and handle their requests in a proactive, diplomatic, and tactful manner.
- Analytical and problem-solving skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using creativity and good judgment.
- Administrative skills:
- Demonstrated proficiency in computer word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications;
- demonstrated ability to type at a speed rate of 40 to 60 words per minute; and
- being able to operate basic office equipment, such as copiers and printers.
- High levels of honesty, discretion, and integrity:
- Being trustworthy enough to handle sensitive/confidential information; and
- being able to comprehend and act on complex, sensitive matters.
- Exceptionally resourceful, self-sufficient, punctual, and reliable.
It’s especially important for Executive Assistants to pay attention to how they come across. Understandably, outstanding customer service skills are essential to this job, but a successful candidate must also remain polite at all times, continuously smiling and conveying a positive, can-do attitude.
The minimal educational requirement for the Executive Assistant position is a high school diploma. However, more and more employers now seek candidates who have completed post-secondary courses or have earned a higher academic degree, such as a college or university degree in Administration, Business, or Secretarial Studies.
Most Executive Assistant positions require between 3 and 5 years of experience working in an office environment, preferably as an Administrative Assistant. Having a basic knowledge of the sector in which the applicant wants to work is always a must.
Executive Assistants must be willing to step outside of their job description, meaning they will often be required to take additional responsibilities and will be expected to work irregular and extra hours, as well as to be reachable at all times. In other words, their work schedule is entirely dictated by the executive they assist and may also vary from one company to another.