If you’ve ever wondered about the mysterious role of executive assistants, this is for you. Executive assistants are a different breed than PAs (personal assistants) and, while they’re sometimes referred to as executive secretaries, they are nothing like the front-desk greeters you’re used to seeing.
Executive assistants are typically college graduates who have some experience with project management and administrative tasks. They’re the go-to person who works closely with upper and senior management at a company to manage their calendar and schedules.
As one LA-based executive assistant puts it, when you’re working as the right-hand person for a CEO, or other senior company employee, you’re responsible for them “working at their most optimal level.” In essence, she says, “Your job is to keep them moving and have everything they need to be fully efficient at their fast and busy level.”
Here’s what you need to know about executive assistants
Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
What are the duties of an EA?
The job description for an executive assistant will always be specific to whatever company is employing the EA. Typical duties, however, will include scheduling and handling everything on the executive’s calendar. Consider executive assistants the gatekeepers of an executive’s time.
They’re also responsible for staying on top of any correspondence inside and outside a company that pertains to the executive. EAs are usually expected to work independently on certain tasks or projects over a given period of time. As such, being able to multitask and stay on track are key qualifiers.
Who is this job ideally for/not for?
The role of an executive assistant is best suited for someone who can switch from task to task with little notice. Thick skin is a must. “No attitude and no ego,” is the way another assistant describes it. If you’re a quick-thinker and problem-solver, this job’s also for you.
There’s never telling what kind of tasks you might be expected to manage on a given day, so creative thinking and a professional, solutions-oriented approach is best.
What’s a typical day like for an executive assistant?
Asking what the typical day is like for an executive assistant comes down to this: There’s never really a typical day. Since executive assistants are usually given tasks and projects, what they’re working on varies from day to day. They also often travel with their executive to high-level functions or act as a representative in their stead at a meeting.
Work can take place just as easily while on a flight to a conference as it can in the backseat of a car while on the way to the office. One other thing is for sure: Don’t expect a typical nine to five day.
What are the usual job requirements?
Employers will look favorably upon college graduates and those who have experience with project management. Excellent communication skills are also a must. Aside from handling correspondence for an executive, EAs usually are knowledgable about a company’s inner workings and entrusted with sensitive information.
They might have the inside scoop on upcoming layoffs, promotions or other, pending company negotiations. As such, employers will seek executive assistants who have the right diplomacy and a lot of tact.
What’s the average salary like?
The average salary for an executive assistant is $52K per year, according to PayScale. Depending on your experience and the company you’re working with, though, you could see a compensation package that’s above $70K per year.