executive assistant

What Does An Executive Assistant Do? (Your Most Important Hire)

Do you run your own business and are looking for someone who can help you with your responsibilities and a wide range of challenges? In this article we’re going to answer the question: What does an Executive Assistant do?

The tasks of company management are very wide and varied. 

It is usually impossible to handle the workload at the highest hierarchical level alone. That’s why executives need specialized, technically skilled support for their daily work. 

If so, you need an executive assistant! 

But will the hired employee meet your expectations? 

Let’s find out what the daily work of an executive assistant looks like, what requirements you can place on them, and how promising they can be for your business.

Successful Assistance: The Path To Better Decisions

Your business’s decision-making process is at the heart of its success:

The right strategic decisions determine the direction in which the organization is headed.

They reflect both the organization’s values and your ambitions as a leader.

Conversely, ineffective decisions have a serious impact on the organization’s competitiveness. In a highly competitive and ever-changing business environment, there is little room for slow decisions or serious mistakes. This is how today’s modern world runs — for better or worse.

So how do you make better decisions?

One thing is clear: To make the right decisions, the boss/CEO/owner needs to have all the information they need and a clear context. This is where an Executive Assistant comes into play. An EA facilitates structuring your entire life, allowing you to make better informed decisions.

The Difference Between An Executive Assistant And A Secretary

The difficulty with the titles of “assistant” and “secretary” is that they do not have a clear definition. This means that different people mean different things by these terms. 

The main difference lies in the perception of the respective profession and the respect with which secretaries and assistants are treated. Due to persistent stereotypes, an assistant is often considered a higher position than a secretary, but really — there are no standardized terms for office professionals.

There is certainly no hierarchy between an assistant and a secretary.

The differences are limited, in particular, by the perception of the respective profession by others. Both perform a variety of tasks. They differ, in particular, depending on whether the company is large or small, and whether it operates internationally or not.

There are many other terms similar to “assistant” or “secretary (we explain them in this article).

For example, the term “administrative” is often used. This emphasizes the executive nature of the job. Also, the terms “junior” or “senior” are often used to show how long the job has been in place and what experience and skills are already available. The term “office manager” is international and emphasizes office management activities.

We are interested in “executive assistant”.

In this case, the title indicates that the work is related to managerial tasks and that qualities in personnel management are required.  But which ones? Find out below as I answer the question, “What does an executive assistant do?

What Does An Executive Assistant Do

Who Can Become An Executive Assistant

Are you interested in hiring the best employee? 

There is no one way to become an outstanding executive assistant. In principle, there is no direct vocational education for executive assistants. Therefore, almost anyone can become such a specialist in any position. 

As a result, the requirements that companies usually place on candidates for the position of assistant also vary greatly. Often, all that is required is proof of a completed education and up to 5 years of professional experience. 

But you’re still not sure what training they need and what they should be able to do. We can help you figure it out.

The following steps will give you a good indication of what a good executive assistant is like.

1. Have Completed a Relevant Internship

After graduating from school, your future employee may have completed a vocational training program focused on commercial or administrative activities. 

To increase their chances of working for a large or international company, they should have considered pursuing higher education. A bachelor’s degree in business administration, management, or a similar discipline will be a good foundation to start working as your assistant. 

2. Gained Practical Experience

To satisfactorily perform the duties assigned by you as an assistant manager, your assistant must have relevant work experience. 

Otherwise, it may be difficult for them to complete the tasks assigned to them on time. 

Initial experience can be gained during an internship. Part-time work as an assistant or in the administration while studying can also provide important practical experience. Most executive assistants have several years of previous experience at lower levels of the company. 

3. Develop Skills

While gaining work experience, a professional assistant should focus on building and developing their skills. Employers like you are looking for candidates with specific skills. Ideally, assistants should have organizational skills, be great at communication, and be able to allocate and use time as efficiently as possible.  

Often times, EAs “come up” from within the company. It helps if they have knowledge of the industry and the company itself.

Depending on the industry you work in, you should choose a professional with a similar level of education. 

4. Work On Language Skills

If you want to make a professional move and hire an executive assistant, you need to test them for their proficiency in various language skills. Since they will be communicating a lot, both on the phone and in writing, it is essential to have a very good command of the written and spoken language. 

Depending on your area of the company, other language skills may be an advantage.

As an assistant, they will work directly in the management center of your company. So you have to trust and fully rely on the assistant in all matters. 

Discretion, impeccable manners, and a high level of loyalty are a must for a hired employee. 

What else is important?

Additional Skills Of An Executive Assistant 

While the skills listed below are a good prerequisite for an effective executive assistant on their own, a good combination of qualifications and practical experience is the best starting point for this open-ended profession.

Hard Skills

  • Completed higher education in business administration, marketing, communications, or a commercial internship
  • Several years of professional experience
  • Knowledge of a foreign language and general technical skills (i.e. proficient in Office programs, email, etc.)

A successful career as an assistant is determined not only by academic qualifications but also by specialized knowledge. In this profession, the right soft skills are a crucial factor in determining whether you are suitable for a job as an executive assistant. 

Soft Skills

These include the following:

  • Organizational strength
  • Practical mentality
  • High resilience
  • Ability to work independently
  • Analytical thinking
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Sociability
  • Loyalty and prudence
  • Time and personal commitment

Tasks and Responsibilities of an Executive Assistant

An assistant manager performs coordination tasks, is the first point of contact for operational issues, and provides you with the necessary assistance as an indispensable “right hand”.

The range of tasks that an executive assistant should perform depends on your expectations and the culture prevailing in your company. 

The scope of activities may include:

  • General organizational and secretarial tasks
  • Preparing and conducting meetings
  • Preparation of analytical materials
  • Preparation of documents for decision-making
  • Implementation of projects
  • Support in strategic issues
  • Active support of development processes
  • Organization of meetings and business trips
  • Control of projects
  • Clarification of personnel issues

So the tasks and responsibilities vary depending on the assistant’s experience and qualifications, the type and size of the company, the industry, and the personality of the managing director. Some assistant managers perform in-depth administrative tasks in the company, while others assist the management in its work. 

The most important tasks of an executive assistant include the following:

Organizing Schedules

As an executive assistant, they plan the day for the manager and make sure that no problems arise during the day. The assistant also plans time reserves to avoid delays and unnecessary waiting for management or other people. 

In addition, they need to make sure that there are time slots for lunch breaks and any tasks. This will give managers enough time to rest and prepare for the next meeting.

And more than anything, they try to make sure their executive has some downtime, which is important — not enough of them get it!

Support Departments and Management Teams

As an assistant manager, you will work with different departments. In doing so, they ensure that all management requirements of the departments are met.

Specific tasks usually depend on the type of support required by the departments and management teams.

Typically, assistants prepare documents and maintain communication between departments.

Creating Reports

An executive assistant is tasked with preparing reports for management. The nature of these reports varies depending on the area of responsibility and the specific requirements of the company. 

Specialists analyze relevant data, draw conclusions, and summarize them in a report. 

Typical topics include company turnover and sales growth.

Supporting Company Monitoring

Companies can have a complex organizational structure. Different departments are usually controlled by their managers. Since there can be a large number of them and the top management has to keep everything under control, you, as a management assistant, play the role of a link. 

An executive assistant logs problems or deals with minor obstacles that could jeopardize business operations. They relay important information or suggestions for major decisions to the manager.

Preparing And Maintaining Meeting Minutes

Managing directors spend a significant portion of their time in meetings. They are essential for the smooth functioning and conduct of the organization’s business. They make many important decisions that affect operations and determine the future of the organization. 

The executive assistant is responsible for ensuring that all these meetings go according to plan.

Organizing Events

Most companies regularly organize internal and external events.

They can take place within the company to motivate and bring the workforce together. Others are public product launches or important announcements. 

Executive assistants are also responsible for making sure these events run smoothly. They coordinate them with the HR or marketing department and involve event management if necessary.

What Does An Executive Assistant Do

Why Your Business Needs an Executive Assistant  

Despite all the facts, some companies often ignore this position. 

Business owners sometimes don’t realize the value and impact that executive assistants bring to their organization. However, the role of an executive assistant has evolved significantly from simply answering phones and filling out paperwork. 

You’ve already learned that these administrative professionals can perform a wide range of duties and take on complex projects, keeping things running smoothly and minimizing costs.

An executive assistant is a foundation that will add value to your company in at least 4 ways:

1. Shaping The Corporate Culture

An assistant will help make the company a better place to work by organizing various events, holiday parties, and organizing initiatives for the entire team.

2. Taking Responsibility For Many Issues

For example, an assistant can help with further negotiations with stakeholders. The specialist will be able to build relationships with suppliers and negotiate contracts. 

This can save the company a lot of money in the long run. In smaller companies, an assistant can also oversee internship programs and help with hiring.

3. Additional Eyes And Ears

An effective leader cannot and should not be everywhere at once. Good leaders rely on the competence of those they entrust with the day-to-day operations of the business.

An assistant manager will serve as the eyes and ears of senior management, providing critical insight into the challenges faced by staff and fostering a culture of collaboration.

4. Increase Productivity 

While technology today allows business leaders to handle certain administrative tasks, an executive assistant can help make your day-to-day work run more smoothly. 

You can focus on more business-critical tasks if you have someone you can rely on. 

Conclusion: What Does An Executive Assistant Do — Now You Know!

As you can see, the responsibilities of an executive assistant may vary depending on what functions you consider necessary to assign to them.

Nevertheless, the ability to improvise, coordinate, and enjoy completing unexpected tasks with efficiency and creativity are important indicators of a good assistant! 

And individuals with dedication, enthusiasm, and communication skills will bring additional results.

You can usually tell if a candidate is a good fit by an ad, an interview – traditional or digital – or an agreed-upon trial period. However, the experienced HireUA team is always ready to help you in your search. 

The team here will not only save you time, but also identify the best talent for your efficient work.

So don’t hesitate and start building the future of your business today!

Watch Next: 10 Hacks for Using an Executive Assistant

About The Author

Anastasia Marinich

Anastasia was born in Odesa and realized at an early age that her work should be creative & enjoyable.

While studying marketing in her hometown, she moved to Germany and continued her education at 2 universities at the same time.As the saying goes "Choose a job to your heart's content and you won't have to work a day of your life!"

Anastasia obtained a degree in Art and has a knack for it. She takes the same approach to writing. Each text is like a picture with a special message and mood. Everyone will find something useful for themselves!

Today Anastasia lives and works in Germany. She travels a lot, practices Ashtanga yoga, learns new things, and continues her creative journey with the HireUA team!
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