Executive Assistant Job Description (Salary, Duties, Skills, Education & More)

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By Jeff Gillis

Let’s be frank.

Without their executive assistants, many, and I mean MANY executives across the country (and the world) would be lost! (Do not take anything away from the frames of course)

Executive assistants (and administrative assistants) often form the backbone of a business or operation. They keep things organized and run smoothly. And that only scratches the surface of their value!

More and more in certain sectors, executive assistants (EAs) are called upon to go beyond the traditional support role they assumed in the past and also assume more strategic functions.

So whether you are looking to pursue a job as an executive assistant or looking to hire one, this article is for you.

In it, we’ll go into detail on exactly what makes a fantastic executive assistant worth hiring and hiring!

Let’s go …

What is an executive assistant?

The basic role of an executive assistant (or EA) is to act as essential support staff for senior executives, including CEOs.

Their job is to ensure that the leaders’ day is fully organized and optimized, allowing them to fully focus on making critical business decisions for which they are paid dearly.

For example, one of the most critical tasks of an EA is to organize the schedule of executives.

You must beware. It is much more critical and difficult than it sounds.

Planning, organizing and optimizing an executive calendar can be very complex. There will be competing appointments that will have to be prioritized and then interact with the different parties smoothly so as not to put off anyone.

REMARK: When you do this, you are representing the business. That is why the highest level of professionalism is necessary.

But that’s only one side of what an executive assistant does. Let’s take a look at some of their other duties and responsibilities.

Tasks and responsibilities of the executive assistant

Here is a list of the main EA tasks and responsibilities that you will often come across in a job description:

    • Schedule meetings
    • Organize the schedule of executives (includes prioritization and resolution of competing appointments)
    • Travel reservation (may include: flight reservation, hotel, rentals, visas, expense reports, etc.)
    • Coordinate office repairs
    • Office functions
    • Coordinate and plan events, programs, conferences, etc.
    • Answer and screen calls
    • Ordering and maintaining supplies
    • Budget monitoring

As you can see, there is a real range of tasks that an EA can be responsible for.

As we mentioned earlier in this article, one of the most important primary tasks of an executive assistant is to act as custodian for their executive.

Many people will try to access it, whether through calls, meetings, appointments, etc. to prioritize what gets to the executive.

Your job is to save your executive’s time streamlined and optimized.

Here’s something to keep in mind as you think about what tasks you’ll be responsible for: As an EA, you are often the person who represents the executive and / or the company in the world, whether with customers, partners or others. Therefore, it is essential that you always act with the highest levels of professionalism.

Today’s EAs can sometimes be called upon to provide strategic assistance in addition to support duties. It can be incredibly rewarding and also set you on a possible path to a higher leadership position.

Take a look at this quote from Glassdoor:

“It is not uncommon for an executive assistant position to eventually lead to a managerial position. Jenna Lyons, Executive Creative Director of J.Crew; Cindy Gallop, advertising manager behind If We Ran The World; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox, all started their careers as executive assistants.

Source: Glassdoor

Obviously, working as an EA can offer a huge advantage.

Think about it, not only are you giving yourself the opportunity to step up to the executive level, you learn and look to the right of top executives. The quality of on-the-job training can be incredible.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well yes, but there are a few questions you should yourself:

    • Do you like to be surprised by what the day might hold in store for you?
    • Or do you like a more structured and predictable workflow for your work?

If you are looking to become an executive assistant, I hope you answered yes to the first question! Every day as an executive assistant can be different. You have to be prepared for it.

You should also be prepared to work long hours, possibly including holidays and weekends.

Welcome to the world of high-end executive assistants!

JEFF’S TIP: For a glimpse into the power of EA roles, check out this USA Today article that discusses executive assistants in Silicon Valley. Now obviously this is a specialized situation, but I still think it’s an interesting case study to look at.

Good skills to have

Let’s take a look at some of the most common skills needed to become a great executive assistant:

    • Communication
    • Problem solving
    • Organization
    • Reliability
    • Diplomacy
    • Efficiency
    • Multitask
    • Attention to detail
    • Management of time
    • Positive attitude
    • Motivated
    • Analytical skills
    • Personal skills
    • Computer skills (Microsoft Office, Excel, Powerpoint, Word, Outlook, Salesforce, etc.)
    • Ability to remain calm under pressure
    • Ability to prioritize
    • Discretion
    • Collaboration
    • Excellent writing skills

I want to examine a few in more detail …

Not surprisingly, executive assistants should be extremely organized. If you are not a particularly organized person, I would think twice before opting for an executive assistant position. For example, if you often miss meetings, often have to change appointments, or are always late… an executive assistant is not the right job for you!

Executive assistants are also often aware of confidential information, so extreme discretion is also essential for any executive assistant. (REMARK: It’s interesting how often ‘discretion’ comes across as a desired quality in executive assistant job descriptions.)

JEFF’S TIP: If you want to be sleuthful, go to Glassdoor.com and type executive assistant in the “jobs” search bar and browse actual job descriptions to get a real idea of ​​what companies are looking for in terms of skills. .

Executive assistant’s salary

Ok, let’s get down to business here. How much can you actually earn as an executive assistant? Can you actually survive on an EA salary before any kind of career advancement?

Unsurprisingly, your EA salary is highly dependent on the region of the country you work in as well as the industry.

Let’s take a look at some stats from the 3 largest wage aggregators in the United States (because they differ somewhat):

Salary.com gives a median salary for executive assistants of $ 68,098.

Source: Salary.com

Glassdoor.com gives an average salary for executive assistants of $ 48,797.

Source: Glassdoor.fr

Payscale.com gives an average salary for executive assistants of $ 55,219.

Source: Payscale.com

As you can see, there is a pretty big disparity in average wages. This gives you a good approximation though. Obviously, a good idea would be to go to these sites yourself and research in your area.

Executive Assistant Education

You will find that many companies want their executive assistants to have a Licence at a minimum (eg a business administration degree is a useful degree).

REMARK: You will be sometimes see companies accepting equivalent work experience instead of a diploma. So keep an eye out for these.

Often, companies will prefer that you have some executive assistant experience depending on the role.

How to use the job description to prepare for your interview

When interviewing for an executive assistant position, the most important thing to remember is that the job description is your best friend when it comes to preparing for your interview.

The job description lists the skills and qualities that the recruiting company is looking for in its ideal candidate. It’s your job to make sure that you demonstrate that you have these skills during the job interview.

How do you do that?

Use our personalization method to answer your interview questions of course!

You want to answer the interview questions you face by highlighting the skills and qualities that are highlighted in the job description (and that you own) and use a “success story” from your past that provides concrete evidence that you are demonstrating the competence. (Especially for behavioral interview questions.)

As we’ve discussed in this article, the skills and qualities that companies often look for in an executive assistant will most likely include (but not be limited to) organization, diplomacy, Communication and the ability to prioritize. You should therefore begin your interview by having prepared answers that clearly show that you demonstrate these qualities.

Do you see how powerful this strategy is ?? Most job seekers take a quick look at the job description and move on …

You are not going to do this! You will extract the job description for the skills and qualities. Take the skills and qualities you find there and have, then craft killer answers to interview questions by showing the hiring manager that you are the perfect candidate for the executive assistant for the job!

Put it all together

Becoming an executive assistant can provide you with an exciting challenge where you never really know what to expect on any given working day. But can also offer you the opportunity to learn from the right top executives and even give you the opportunity to advance to a managerial position yourself. If this sounds like a job that’s tailor-made for you, then go for it!

Good luck!

Discover our others “Job description items” if you are exploring career options:

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