Over the past few decades, the role of an executive assistant has evolved from that of a personal secretary to that of someone capable of facilitating decisions, networking, influencing, managing, and even leading.
Executive assistants usually answer phones, screen visitors, make travel arrangements, prepare reports, file and organize documents, record meeting minutes, and do basic bookkeeping.
To ensure the company's success, a successful executive assistant ensures that the executive they are assisting is above and beyond the call of duty.
Every successful CEO has a solid executive assistant who helps them accomplish their goals.
So who are they, and what makes them unique?
Executive Assistant Job Description
Do you know what an executive assistant does? An executive assistant, or personal assistant, plays a vital role in a company because they assist senior officials, the CEO, or the owner.
Administrative assistants are similar to executive assistants; however, administrative assistants usually focus on clerical tasks, whereas executive assistants usually assist company executives by handling higher-level tasks.
There is a wide variety of tasks executive assistants perform, but they are all generally high level and similar in nature.
- Managing the schedule for the CEO
- Attending calls and meetings for the CEO when they are unavailable
- Reviewing and sorting paperwork
- Managing sensitive information
- Preparing reports and presentation
- Analyzing data
- Administrative tasks
- Monitoring other employees, including administrative assistants
How to Become an Executive Assistant
Getting a degree in business or a related field such as office management or administrative support is essential to becoming an assistant.
Most executive assistants have a 4-year degree, but many start as administrative assistants or receive certificates or degrees from two-year programs.
To be considered for the position as an executive assistant at a larger company, one might require multiple years of experience.
Additionally, executive assistants may need to be knowledgeable about the field in which they intend to work. For example, an executive assistant should be familiar with legal terminology and procedures if they plan to work in a legal environment.
An executive assistant should possess the following four characteristics. First, take time to read and understand, especially if you are aiming to be one or are currently looking to employ one.
Trust and loyalty
Executive assistants are CEOs' counterparts. Share information with your executive assistant that will be valuable. For possible airline and hotel booking purposes, they will be able to access your schedule, corporate names, and personal accounts such as email addresses and credit card numbers.
Choose a trustworthy and reliable person. Knowing that confidential information, will be kept for their eyes only should make you feel more at ease when sharing your schedule, your calendar, and more. They are your partner-in-crime.
Assess your business to understand what values are most important to you. Then, look for an executive assistant who possesses the same qualities, and you will have your ideal candidate.
Your executive assistant will represent you in the same manner in which you hold the same principles and standards. In your absence, you need to be confident that they will make the right decisions if need be.
The executive assistant's job is to prioritize information or tasks at hand. Providing you, as the CEO, with the information that you need at this moment is their responsibility. The goal is to make your work easier.
Their role is to relay the most important information first, then the least important, and then let go of the unimportant information. But, first, they must determine which ones need to be taken care of by themselves.
You must keep a good working relationship with your executive assistant. It is essential that you are confident in them when they speak on your behalf. In addition, you may need them to represent you at meetings in your absence.
Find one you can communicate with easily. Someone you think understands your values and who you are as a CEO. Someone who will represent you and make you feel comfortable about it.
Tips for an Executive Assistant
Are you looking for executive assistant organization tips? These tips will help your organization.
- Organize Your Emails
As an executive assistant, you must also manage your inbox and your executives. It can get overwhelming really soon with the emails flooding your inbox.
A wise executive once said, "It is impossible to reach 0 emails, and it's better that you accept it." However, there are other options to defeat this challenge and simplify your inbox!
Consider organizing emails by labels, so you know which ones need attention:
- Urgent emails: You must reply to these emails ASAP. Do not keep them for later and give them the utmost attention.
- Less Urgent: You will have to reply to these emails eventually, but you have more important matters to attend to at the moment. If you need to send these emails on a specific date, it is recommended that you put a due date on them so that you do not forget them.
- Follow-Ups – Set due dates for following up with these emails as these tend to slip through the cracks.
- To-Do's – Create a to-do list to help you stay on top of these emails.
2. Make tomorrow's to-do list before leaving the office
Don't waste any time! Whether you are leaving the office or not, make a list of tasks you need to focus on tomorrow while everything is still fresh in your mind. When you enter the office in the morning, you will have a good idea of where you stand because you will have spent the extra 5-10 minutes doing this beforehand.
You will not waste time since you know what is your top priority and what needs your immediate attention.
3. Visualize What You WILL Accomplish
Start your day with the end in mind when you walk into the office.
Consider what you must accomplish today for 5 minutes. THEN, consider what tasks will help you get there.
Revise your to-do list from the night before, ensuring each of your tasks is in the right place.
4. Use a tool
Consider using a project management software or online platform to keep you and your team organized.
Tip #1, email management, lists Priority Matrix as a good project management tool for executive assistants.
The Priority Matrix application allows you to manage email, tasks, and documents in one place. Also, you can read detailed reports to make sure your team is performing well or to find out if they aren't progressing so you can step in quickly.
Executive assistants can be hard to find. You must have your criteria set, and you know the values you wish for them to have—one who is right for you and will be the gatekeeper to your success.
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