Everything You Need to Know About Being an Executive Assistant

Only a few jobs offer the same perks that rival the experiential benefits of being an administrative assistant, aka an executive assistant (EA). In films, you see EAs as people who tail powerhouse CEOs and executives, often writing on clipboards or on the phone. But in real life, executive assistants do more than answer calls or follow their bosses around.

These administrative professionals support the organization’s high-level administrators and executives. They are in charge of many administrative tasks that ensure a company sails smoothly and toward the path of success.

If you’re interested in this career path, here’s what you need to know about executive assistant jobs.

What Exactly Does an Executive Assistant Do?

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An executive assistant’s job description is simple on paper: they’re in charge of assisting high-level executives and are often trusted with sensitive information and complex duties. They perform a variety of office management duties, handle tasks that directly impact the operations of the business and offer clerical support.

Apart from the general administrative work, an executive assistant is also in charge of taking minutes during sessions, scheduling meetings, producing presentations or reports for the C-suite leadership and maintaining databases.

In general, EAs are the secret behind every smooth-running office.

Apart from the responsibilities mentioned above, the standard job description of executive assistants includes:

  • Handling basic bookkeeping tasks
  • Using different software, including spreadsheets, word processing, presentation software and databases
  • Retrieving and filing corporate documents, reports and records
  • Performing office duties such as managing record databases and ordering supplies
  • Researching and conducting data to prepare documents for presentation by committees, executives and boards of directors
  • Preparing reports, financial statements, invoice letters, memos and other documents
  • Handling correspondences directed to managers
  • Promoting workplace safety

On paper, it sounds like a fairly simple job. But it takes great determination and dedication to be a great executive assistant. Apart from these skills, however, there are other requirements that come with executive assistant jobs.

Executive Assistant Requirements and Job Qualifications

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In terms of training, certification and education, there are a few requirements needed to become a personal assistant, but achieving the executive assistant level usually comes after several years of experience.

  • A high school diploma can get you in any entry-level jobs, but person with a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree in business-related fields has more chances of getting hired as an EA.
  • Executive assistant jobs do not often require certifications, but if you want more brownie points, getting certified is a wise career move. Fortunately, many online courses offer certifications.
  • Trust and experience gained by doing the job are the greatest weapons in any aspiring EA’s resume.

In terms of competencies, filing, typing and other clerical skills are important. But the best personal assistants also have strong personalities, which are exhibited in the following soft skills:

  • Time management. Anyone in charge of managing other people’s time, as executive assistants do for their bosses, must be excellent at managing their personal time.
  • Communication skills. EAs often serve as the gatekeeper who decides which visitors or callers can go directly to their bosses. They also redirect and handle unwanted visitors in a professional manner. These scenarios require the ability to quickly glean information from people demanding time from their employers.
  • Multi-task. The best executive assistants can handle more than just one task at a time. They can also keep tabs on their employers’ schedules and keep them on track.
  • Trustworthy. Executive assistants are often granted access to sensitive information regarding the company. The bosses they work with need to trust them fully for EAs to be more efficient with their responsibilities.

Apart from the standard responsibilities of being an executive assistant, you’ll also deal with other “straight-talk” EA tasks, such as:

  • Giving the company cool swag. Think of all those prizes, handouts and awards given out during parties and retreats. An executive assistant may have chosen them all, as well as managed the budget and ordered for the giveaway. As an EA, you may be in charge of employee appreciation initiatives, too.
  • Planning for business trips. Many executives count on their executive assistants to add some interest to their business trips. So EAs handle all the logistical aspects of the executive’s travel to make sure the former can make the most out of their trip.
  • Provide support as needed. Both executives and the actual office may end up considering the executive assistant as their unofficial therapist. You may have to offer support in a personal capacity (but within a professional setting still, of course).

These are some of the qualities needed by people who want to apply for executive assistant jobs. But before you Google “executive assistant jobs near me,” work on your resume first and highlight the top three skills CEOs often look for in EAs.

What are the Top 3 Skills of an Executive Assistant?

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You don’t need Latin honors to impress future employers. When browsing through resumes, CEOs and other executives often look for three important skills, aka the skills you need to highlight on your resume (as well as practice in real life).

  • Knowledge of technology. Sure, you’re familiar with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. You may even be well-versed with G-Suite. But are you certified? As mentioned above, certification gives you a career boost. When writing your resume, include any relevant software that will set you apart from your competitors. Perhaps the company has a blog and the CEO wants to regularly post on it. If you’re knowledgeable with WordPress, you can do the job for them. List down all of your technical skills to show that you keep up with current methods designed to run businesses efficiently.
  • Project management and event planning. As an executive assistant, you’ll be planning plenty of conferences, meetings and parties. Highlight the times you organized an event or a project. You’ll need to be organized, resourceful and pay attention to the finest details. Having great follow-through skills can also make you a great EA.
  • Leadership qualities. Executive assistants do more than just take directions. They can do tasks without being told. To be a great executive assistant, you have to be an initiative worker. Identify a problem and solve them before news of the problem hits your employer’s desk. If you’ve ever had a management role, list that on your resume. Any project that highlights your leadership abilities will give your resume a boost.

Job Outlook for Executive Assistants

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for administrative assistants and executive secretaries may decline by about 17 percent by 2026. Technology enables many companies to prepare their documents without the help of executive assistants.

For example, many legal firms prefer to finish administrative tasks using technology.

Still, many businesses prefer the human touch when it comes to communication and organizing business events, which is why EAs are still relevant in the job market.

How Much Do Executive Assistants Make?

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The average base salary of executive assistants is $56,978 per year for people with less than five years of experience. If you have six to nine years of experience, the annual average may increase to $61,663 whereas personal assistants with a 10-year experience have a salary of $63,504 annually.

The most common benefits included for EAs are:

  • Paid time off
  • Health insurance
  • Work from home benefits
  • Gym memberships

Is an Executive Assistant a Good Job?

In terms of the working environment, you’ll have a mix of peace and busyness as an executive assistant. EAs often work in office environments and are always interacting with callers, visitors and other executives, apart from their colleagues and employers. The work itself can be demanding and fast-paced, and the gatekeeper role requires you to effectively manage people, especially the stubborn ones.

Work schedule-wise, the hours often follow the typical business work week. In some cases, however, executive assistants must work late to organize events or attend to additional tasks from their employers.

So if you’re OK with a fast-paced job filled with communication and planning, the executive assistant job is right for you.

Executive assistants perform a specialized and tedious job that only a few people can perfect, which is why looking down on this profession is a mistake. If you have the skills to become an EA, work on your resume and start submitting them today.

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