executive assistant vs personal assistant

Executive Assistant vs Personal Assistant vs Other Assistants

What KIND of assistant do you need? Let’s break down 3 different types of assistants and get into the nitty-gritty between an Executive Assistant vs Personal Assistant vs an Administrative Assistant.

Lots of people get confused by what should be a very simple question.

After all, an assistant is supposed to simplify your life — right?

Often times, founders and business owners end up in this kind of a situation:

  1. Your business grows and grows (hopefully beyond your wildest dreams)
  2. You start having more items that don’t necessarily need your input and just need to be taken care of on a regular basis.
  3. You start working late and working on the weekends.
  4. You realize…you need help.
  5. You start trying to hire somebody to offload some of these tasks to.

But, until you’ve really understood the difference between these 3 positions, it’s fruitless to try to make a hire. You need to understand the nuances of an Executive Assistant vs Personal Assistant vs an Administrative Assistants vs a “Virtual Asisstant”.

So, what to do?

Let’s break down these positions so you can be better prepared to effectively take back your time.

  • Executive Assistant
  • Personal Assistant
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Virtual Assistant (we’ll discuss this one as well just for good measure)

One of the HireUA Assistants tells her story of selling a helicopter (below).

Executive Assistant vs Personal Assistant vs Administrative Assistant vs Virtual Assistant

Let’s say you’re a remote business that allows people to work from home. In reality, there’s little reason for you to hire locally. It comes with a myriad of headaches and extra expenses that we’ve hashed out before.

Maybe you’ve got a few basic tasks, such as…

  • Research
  • Data entry
  • Article writing
  • Basic reporting
  • Or other, repetitive tasks.

You can hire a…

VA: Virtual Assistant

This is a person that can handle simple repetitive tasks.

It’s not self-evident what a VA should do because it basically means an Assistant that works remotely.

VA is trained to follow low-level SOPs and is good when you are just starting your business & need basic support. There is a ton of overlap with Virtual Assistants and Administrative Assistants, which we’ll cover shortly.

But in a nutshell, look at it this way:

If you go to the doctor or dentist, they likely have someone out front, manning the desk. They check patients in, make sure things are running smoothly, and that the office is humming along like a real business should. They send reports at the end of the day to the boss and bring any urgent issues to their attention.

What is this position called?

  • Some might call it a Secretary.
  • Some might call it an Office Manager.
  • Some offices (think government or banking) might call it a Clerk.
  • Some places might call it an Administrative Assistant.

A Virtual Assistant is basically any of these roles potentially, for any business, that has the ability to let their staff work online. You hire a VA for whatever you need done. And you try to tailor it to that specific VA. If you run a marketing agency then a VA with some marketing background is obviously ideal.

If you’re a doctor and run a practice (yes they can have remote staff!), then someone with some background in medicine is obviously ideal.

It’s common to find Virtual Assistants on sites like Fiverr or Upwork — which may or may not be a good idea.

As you’re growing further, the next level is…

AA: Administrative Assistant

For simplicity’s sake, an Administrative Assistant is usually a more prestigious title than Virtual Assistant.

Often times an Admin Assistant is some sort of prototype of a Project Manager — for when you start receiving a lot of emails, customer requests, etc.

Maybe you need to manage a CRM or a ticketing system, manage workspaces, upload content, prepare documents and schedule calls.

These are the administrative things that require an Assistant to be highly organized, attentive to details and analytical.

An Admin Assistant makes sure that everyone has everything they need and the processes are running smoothly.

On this level we also have a Business Assistant, who is focused not on infrastructure but on research and solutions for the business.

A Business Assistant does market analytics, communicates with clients, contractors and third parties diving deep into business processes to help the Senior management make better decisions.

Next we have the fun one.

executive assistant vs personal assistant

An Assistant should be handling all of your travel plans and logistics.

PA: Personal Assistant

They take care of personal errands, gifts, orders, travels, celebrations, documents and lifestyle management.

You know, the one who buys a gift for your spouse or kid because you forgot their birthday. Hopefully your work/life balance hasn’t gotten that far out of control…

This one is not necessary for the business. More of a luxury than anything. It’s something which is really nice to have as you are advancing in life, and ideally, this should be someone who lives in the same city.

It’s Personal Assistants who handle the weirdest requests

This video by HireUA Presenter Maria might shed some light on what I mean by “weird”, in this video she talks about getting her boss to meet the prince of Norway, selling a helicopter, and having to have a plane held on the runway…

The weirdest requests are handled by a Personal Assistant, which Maria explains in this video.

And finally, last but certainly not least…

EA: Executive Assistant

The cream of the crop in the assistant family. This is a professional who supports high-level executives and business founders.

The right hand.

An EA typically does EVERYTHING that we’ve listed above. No task is beneath them, and at the same time, no task is too difficult for them.

Here’s a few things a great Executive Assistant might do.

  • Coordinates the team
  • Handles personal arrangements
  • Manage your calendar and schedule
  • Attends sales calls and meetings
  • Works on many aspects of the business
  • Running hiring processes for new positions
  • Speaks to partners and clients on behalf of their boss
  • Ultimately the job of an EA is to acts as a filter between their boss and the outer world

EA is the most skilled & experienced assistant that takes ownership of the tasks and proactively solves problems, that are standing in your way.

EAs typically also have managerial skills, which can supervise other assistants.

So if your business is growing rapidly, you have big plans and need a responsible person that you can trust, hire an Executive Assistant.

It’s important to note that an Executive Assistant would also be expected to handle any of the tasks thrown at them. That means that they would fall under VA, AA, and PA tasks. Certainly your EA will be handling your personal requests and managing your life in lots of details. As Maria pointed out in the video above, she was an Executive Assistant but handled all sorts of whacky requests for her boss.

Executive Assistant vs Personal Assistant (vs Others) Closing Thoughts

Regardless, no matter where you are in your business…

An Assistant, no matter which one, is the most important hire you can make.

It’s important you get it right because it can be the foundation of huge growth for your company while also taking hours of your time back, and mountains of stress away.

No matter where your business is.

We can help with finding you the perfect Assistant.

Go here:


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About The Author

Kyle Mau

Kyle was born and raised in California. He left his corporate job as an engineer to move to Eastern Europe at 24 years old and settled in Kyiv, Ukraine. In his entrepreneurial career, Kyle has run a blog with over 10 million readers, co-founded an olive oil company from Croatia (Selo Olive), and now — HireUA.

Being able to connect hard-working & skilled Ukrainians with Western companies has been one of the most satisfying things he has ever done.

While Kyle focuses primarily on business growth and strategy, he believes actions speak loudest. He has full trust in his team to run the day-to-day at HireUA. It is the perfect example to
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