Executive assistants play important roles in a company because they are the executive’s left-hand man (or woman)!
A successful executive assistant will go above and beyond to make sure that the company is headed in the right direction by ensuring that the executive that they are assisting is on top of everything and then some.
In this article, we will cover:
- The job description of an Executive Assistant
- The average Executive Assistant salary
- How to become an Executive Assistant
- Tips for an executive assistant
- Executive Assistant skills
Executive Assistant Job Description
What does an executive assistant do? Executive assistants, also sometimes called personal assistants, play key roles in a company because they assist one or more executives, such as high level officials, the CEO, or the owner of a company.
Executive assistants are similar to administrative assistants; however, administrative assistants tend to focus on clerical work, while executive assistants are responsible for assisting an executive of the company, usually with higher level tasks.
While the types of tasks that executive assistants perform can vary from position to position, they all tend to perform similar high level tasks and duties.
These tasks can range from:
- Managing the executive’s schedule
- Representing the executive in calls and meetings when the executive is unavailable
- Preparing and reviewing documents
- Handling confidential information
- Producing reports and presentations
- Analyzing data
- Office management tasks
- Keeping an eye on staff members, including administrative assistants
Here is an example of an executive assistant job description from www.Monster.com:
- Produces information by transcribing, formatting, inputting, editing, retrieving, copying, and transmitting text, data, and graphics. Conserves executive’s time by reading, researching, and routing correspondence; drafting letters and documents; collecting and analyzing information; initiating telecommunications.
- Maintains executive’s appointment schedule by planning and scheduling meetings, conferences, teleconferences, and travel.
- Represents the executive by attending meetings in the executive’s absence; speaking for the executive.
- Welcomes guests and customers by greeting them, in person or on the telephone; answering or directing inquiries.
- Maintains customer confidence and protects operations by keeping information confidential.
- Completes projects by assigning work to clerical staff; following up on results.
- Prepares reports by collecting and analyzing information.
- Secures information by completing database backups.
- Provides historical reference by developing and utilizing filing and retrieval systems; recording meeting discussions.
- Maintains office supplies inventory by checking stock to determine inventory level; anticipating needed supplies; evaluating new office products; placing and expediting orders for supplies; verifying receipt of supplies.
- Ensures operation of equipment by completing preventive maintenance requirements; following manufacturer’s instructions; troubleshooting malfunctions; calling for repairs; maintaining equipment inventories; evaluating new equipment and techniques.
- Maintains professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops; reviewing professional publications; establishing personal networks; participating in professional societies.
- Contributes to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.
Executive Assistant Salary
According to www.onetonline.org, the median salary of an Executive Assistant for 2016 was $26.86 hourly, or $55,860 annually.
Keep in mind, this can vary based on years of experience and where one lives, just like any other job position.
How to Become an Executive Assistant
To become an assistant, consider getting a degree in business or a related field such as administrative support or office management.
At minimum, executive assistants usually have a 4-year degree, but some executive assistants work up from being an administrative assistant, or receive a certificate or degree from a two-year program.
When working for larger companies, however, one might need multiple years of experience as an executive assistant to be considered for the position.
In addition, executive assistants may need knowledge in the field which they plan to work in. For example, if they are planning on being an executive assistant in a legal environment, they must be familiar with legal terminology and procedures.
Tips for an Executive Assistant
Looking for executive assistant organization tips? These tips will increase your organization.
- Organize Your Emails
As an executive assistant, you must manage not only your own inbox, but your executive’s as well. This can get overwhelming with so many emails flowing.
You probably have accepted that reaching inbox zero is nearly impossible, however there are other options to defeat this challenge, and simplify that inbox!
Priority Matrix a tool that allows you to simplify your inbox.
Consider organizing emails in a quadrant based template with the four quadrants labeled:
- Urgent: Requiring Reply – It is critical that you give these emails your utmost attention. Reply to them ASAP; Do not leave the office without this quadrant nearly empty.
- Less Urgent: Replies – You need to reply to these emails eventually, but you have bigger priorities for the time being. It is recommended that you put a due date on these emails so you do not forget about them as they are still significant.
- Follow-Ups – Set due dates for when to follow-up with these emails as these tend to slip through the cracks.
- To-Do’s – A designated spot for those emails that list tasks that must be done. Set due-dates on these as well.
The email template looks as followed:
Priority Matrix, is a quadrant based project management solution that allows you to easily drag and drop your emails into the above quadrants from your Outlook email.
From there, you can:
- Set a due date so you know when to reply to that email or complete that task listed in the email.
- Delegate the email to an executive or team member if they are involved, or you want them to take over.
- Use task icons to determine which emails are the most important. For example, you can put a ‘fire’ next to an email that needs a reply within the next hour, or number your emails based on which need your attention first.
Here is how this would look in Priority Matrix:
Notice that the ‘task name’ is the subject of the email. When you click on it, the content of the email is listed under ‘notes’.
- Make tomorrow’s to-do list before leaving the office
Don’t waste any time! Before stepping out of the office, create a to-do list of tasks that you need to focus on tomorrow while everything is fresh in your head. The extra 5-10 minutes you spend to do this will certainly pay off when you enter the office in the morning because you will have a good idea where you stand.
This ensures that you do not waste any time because you know what is a top priority and what needs your focus first.
- Visualize What You WILL Accomplish
When you walk into the office, start your day with the end in mind.
Take 5 minutes to think about what results you need to achieve today. THEN, consider what tasks will help you get there.
At this point, revise your to-do list from the night before making sure each of your tasks on there are in the right place.
- Use a tool
To stay organized, consider using an online platform or project management software to keep you as well as your team in the loop.
A wonderful project management solution for executive assistants is Priority Matrix, the same tool listed in tip #1 to assist with your emails.
In Priority Matrix, you can keep track of tasks, emails, and documents all in one place. In addition, you can read detailed reports so that you can make sure that your team is on track, or that your team is not making progress so that you can step in right away.
Here is how you can use Priority Matrix with your executive:
- The executive can delegate tasks directly to you through the platform (making you the ‘owner’) which means that you always know what you need to do! If there are any questions, you can chat within the task so you can quickly reference it later. No more confusing email threads or miscommunication about responsibilities!
- When you get an email from your executive, you can drag and drop it into your Priority Matrix email template so you do not lose track of it, helping you manage your emails more efficiently.
- Generate a report of everything you finished each day so your executive understands exactly what has been accomplished.
- Manage your time better using our prioritization templates, or create your own. Make your executive happy and be a super performer!
- Anticipate your executive’s needs. If you see that he/she has a full day of meetings, have a meal from his/her favorite restaurant waiting. If he/she is leading a big meeting in the AM, order those bagels and coffee in advance before even asked.
You can also increase overall organization because everything is in one place.
Your boss has an important call tomorrow? Set an alert in Priority Matrix to remind him/her an hour before.
Want to see if anything important is going on tomorrow or the following week? Open the Priority Matrix master list for a bird’s eye view to see everything going on, and filter it by the time period you want to focus on.
- Keep a Database
Keep good records of a variety of places, such as hotels and restaurants, that your executive has been to in the past. Make sure you keep contact information such as phone numbers and addresses as well as an area which states whether or not he/she enjoyed their last experience.
This way if your executive is looking for a place to stay in the L.A. area, you can pull up hotels that he/she has stayed at in the past, and make some calls!
You can keep track of this information in an Excel spreadsheet, Microsoft Access, or even Priority Matrix.
Executive Assistant Skills
- Communication Skills: Excellent written and verbal communication skills are critical in this field whether speaking on the phone, writing an email, or voicing an opinion.
- Time Management Skills: One must be able to prioritize to determine where time is best spent not only for their position, but for the executive they work for.
- Organization: With files and information floating everywhere, one must be able to develop a strategy to keep everything in its place.
- Multitasking Abilities: With so much going on, it is likely you will have to attend to multiple tasks at once.
- Problem Solving : Plans, strategies, and schedules change – it is your job to react quickly and be resilient, finding the best alternatives when these changes arise.
- Independent: Possessing independence to get your own job done, ensure that your executive is on track, as well as the team members that you supervise.
- Proactive: Your mind should be thinking far into the future so you can step in when needed.
- Detail Oriented: The little things really matter – typos, schedule changes, and even the minute info about how the executive needs to dress for an upcoming marketing meeting – so you must have an eye for even the tiniest details.
- Technology: An Executive Assistant should have knowledge about prioritization software, presentation software, graphics software, Microsoft office, etc.
- Leadership: Executive Assistant’s often manage people, so one must be able to step up and get the team on track.