Learn about the Roles and Responsibilities, Salary & Essential Skills Required to Become a Successful Executive Assistant:
The role of Executive Assistants has evolved in the past years. From merely answering the phone calls and greeting office guests, they have become a strategic partner, problem solvers and trusted confidant today. They are of more value now than before. Their function has metamorphosed to be a more strategic one than the supporting one.
The executives today rely heavily on their assistants for much more than just admin help. They depend on their EAs for their technical expertise, strategic counsel, and critically analyzing the situations as well. Their role extends up to dabbling in a wide range of things and varied issues like internal communications, managing projects, planning events, etc.
What You Will Learn:
- Executive Assistant Roles And Responsibilities
- Executive Assistant Salary
- Executive Assistant Skills List
- Skills Of An Outstanding Executive Assistant
- What Makes An Executive Assistant A Rockstar?
Executive Assistant Roles And Responsibilities
Their job is described as the power role. So, it is inevitable that executive assistants should have some set of special skills to work through everything. If you are planning to be one, here is a list of basic and essential skills you must possess. But before that, you must know what are the responsibilities of an executive assistant.
Responsibilities Of An Executive Assistant
Although the role and responsibilities of an executive assistant have grown a lot in the past years, some of the basic ones have remained the same.
- Preparing documents like financial reports, invoices, memos, letters, reports, etc.
- Taking care of the calls as needed, like answering them, routing them or passing the messages.
- Taking care of basic book-keeping.
- Gather and file company records, reports, and documents.
- Preparing documents for review and presentation after researching and conducting data.
- Help executives to prepare for meetings.
- Recording minutes of meeting accurately.
- Fixing appointments.
- Using computers for various works.
- Making travel arrangements.
- Managing database, ordering supplies and performing similar office duties.
- Checking, sorting and distributing communications like faxes, emails, letters, etc.
Executive Assistant Salary
Executive assistant jobs are ranked second in the list of the highest paying jobs in the market and it doesn’t need a specific degree or level of education. The salary of an EA varies in different industries. They can earn between $55,000 to over $70,000.
Executive Assistant Skills List
Being an executive assistant is a demanding job. So, if you are hell-bent on this job, there are some basic skills that you must have.
These skills are explained in detail below:
#1) A Penchant For Talks
An executive assistant is like a spokesperson and their words are considered of their boss’s. Therefore, great communication skills of an expert level with proper phone etiquettes and polished language are a must. You should be persuasive and should be able to put everything on the table accurately and clearly.
Often assistants need to take on the de-facto roles of internal communications on behalf of their bosses. Also, executives want to check on ideas across you or get your opinion on something vital. So, they must be able to honestly put across their point of view.
#2) Impeccable Skills For Organizing And Prioritizing
This is an absolute must for executive assistants as they have a fast-paced and constantly changing role. So, they can’t afford to lose any time being unorganized. A good executive must be impeccably organized.
They require to prioritize the tasks according to the focus and finish them one by one. They help their boss in prioritizing tasks and so, they have to do the same before. Thus, it enables them to help their boss minimize the distraction and concentrate only on the most pressing issues and activities that are of the highest leverage.
This requires sound judgment to decide what needs attention and what you can just shut down. The assistant must collaborate with their boss to prioritize the work. To be good at prioritizing your big picture goals must be clear because without clear objectives you can’t do that.
Well, multitasking is a myth because our brain can only handle one complex work at a time. But some degree of multitasking is essential in the role of an executive assistant. Now, you can do this by combining two simple tasks.
For Example, you are on a call and the person other side has put your call on hold. Take that time to reply to some emails or make the bookings for travel. You must prioritize your work and complete them one by one. But mixing some mindless tasks will save you a lot of time.
#4) Proficient In Technology
Executive assistants must be adept in the skills of technology as they need to create company reports, perform data entries, manage calendars, etc. So, you must be intimately familiar with MS Office tools, the internet, etc. They also often need to work with the Customer Relationship Management system, virtual help desk, and customer service platform as well.
And that’s why an executive assistant must have a thorough knowledge of operating systems, software, browsers, and so on.
#5) An Eye For Details
Partner and client communications are sensitive, so while handling them, it is required to be detail-oriented. This helps them avoid typing mistakes and grammatical errors. Having an eye for details also helps in other works along with making sure that you deliver trustworthy and accurate work inputs.
Mistakes would not only diminish your reputation but will also make your boss question your trustworthiness.
#6) Decisive And Quick
Being an Executive Assistant is like running at a fast pace all the time. They have no time to be slow or vague. You must be able to assess the situation, collect necessary intel, ask questions that matter and then act fast.
You might not always have all the information needed but you will always have to act confidently and quickly. You will not get the luxury of waiting around for more clarity or worse, even permission sometimes.
Skills Of An Outstanding Executive Assistant
There are executive assistants and then there are outstanding executive assistants. The outstanding ones are those who carry some other skills in addition to the ones mentioned above.
Executive assistants are often asked to pull off impossible tasks. And you can’t complain because it is a part of the job, comes with the territory. You need to have connections, people you can cash favors from. You must be aware of all the right places for different things, who to approach, how to negotiate and where to look. That’s the way you will be able to pull the impossibles.
#2) Stay Calm
Executives often have high-pressure jobs and most of them are demanding as well. That pressure and demands are passed down to the assistants. Many days will be like the fire drill. So, you must keep yourself calm. That is the only way you will be able to meet deadlines and finish tasks.
#3) Consider The Big Picture
Executive assistants work with all levels of employees and multiple departments. For efficiently handling things on behalf of your boss, you must have a good understanding of the business. If you aren’t able to understand something, arrange a lunch date with someone who does and talk to them.
You can also do the same with someone from every department. It will help you gain more knowledge about how the team plays a vital role in the bigger mission of the company. It is one of the best ways of networking. You must have some foundational knowledge of everything so you can offer vital insights to your superiors and boss.
#4) Rigid Discretion
Executives constantly deal with sensitive information and that means assistants also have access to them as well. All the privileged information must be dealt with delicately.
The success of an executive assistant is based on trust. Being careless with sensitive information can not only break that trust but also can cost your job. And if, you have mistakenly made a slip, own it. Let your boss know before anyone else and work out a remedy for it.
Executive Assistants flourish when they can foresee the possible events and anticipate the problems even before they turn to full-blown issues. They should be able to anticipate situationally and personally as well.
Situational anticipation is when you anticipate the possibilities of a problem occurring and proactively work to stop them from happening. Personal anticipation is to know the idiosyncrasies and preferences of your boss. In both scenarios, you must be able to stop it in the early stage that will save you countless headaches along the way.
The job of an executive assistant is wide and different. This means that you will have to spin 360 degrees at a moment’s notice. Things change at the snap of fingers and assistants have to adjust and respond accordingly.
They should be able to change what they are going after quickly. For Example, you can be trying hard to do something, right then your boss strolls in and demands that you finish some other task urgently. You must be able to pause the work on hand to finish the newly assigned job. But then you must also be able to get back to what you were doing.
What Makes An Executive Assistant A Rockstar?
Being an executive assistant is not easy but being a rockstar assistant takes a lot more. When you are that good, your boss depends on you for a lot of things. In that case, you can not fall back or become slow. You need to stay one step ahead and be a rockstar assistant.
#1) Be Proactive
To be a rockstar assistant, you need to have a mind of your own. You can’t always depend on your boss to tell you what needs to be done. A lot of things can go wrong in a day of an executive and that’s why anticipation is vital.
However, it is equally important to have the right approach to the problems. Always try to be ready with a solution even before you are asked to and try to have alternatives ready as well.
#2) Have A Thick Skin
Executive assistants meet various kinds of people every day and not everyone acts nice to them. Some people could be having a bad day or some are naturally grumpy by nature. To deal with such people, you must learn not to take anything personally. Often they need someone to vent out. You must not allow this kind of criticism to hurt you.
Otherwise, you will always be exhausted, dejected and irritated. You will also lag in your job. So, if you get to meet such people, go for a walk or coffee, meditate, or anything that helps you.
#3) Be Willing To Go Extra Mile
A good assistant should always be willing to learn. That is the only way they can stay ahead of new software, procedures, and technology. So, you should be an independent thinker who doesn’t always need someone to guide you.
At times the job can be overwhelming, in these times, stay calm, prioritize, then delegate the task and the follow up proactively. You should be tireless in resolving the issues, averting the crisis and keeping up the commitments. In a few words, you need to be willing, reliable, smart, and well-confident. That’s the only way you will be an asset to the organization.
#4) Volunteer For Special Projects
If there is a special project going on and the executive doesn’t have enough headcount to devote to it, step up to volunteer. It will be a bit too much for you in getting involved in the project while keeping your old job but don’t ever consider any job too small.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q #1) What are the top three skills of an Executive Assistant?
Answer: The skills include:
- Should be adept in technology.
- Good at verbal and written communication.
- They should know how to organize everything.
Q #2) Why are assistants important for executives?
Answer: Assistants cater to the needs of their bosses endlessly and anticipate their needs as well. They keep their bosses in the know and on time for everything. In simple terms, it is the job of an assistant to keep the CEO organized and make them look good.
Q #3) How to become an executive assistant to the CEO?
Answer: You should at least hold a bachelor’s degree along with good communication skills and command over the language. Having an advanced degree helps as well.
Q #4) What is the meaning of a C-level executive assistant?
Answer: Also known as C-suit, it is an adjective for describing executives on high-ranks in an organization. C stands for chief. C-level officers or executives are considered powerful and influential.
As an executive assistant, you will get to work with various applications, tools, and programs. Also, you need to work on your interpersonal skills as it is equally important. You can learn to use a new program that will help you multitask. But to be the best executive assistant, you must be able to predict what your boss might need next.
You should always be good at dealing with difficult people along with understanding how important privacy is. These are the essential skills for a great executive assistant.