An executive assistant (EA) is a highly valued member of staff in any organisation. If you’re planning on extending your team, it’s essential to understand the top executive assistant's skills and qualities. A top-notch executive assistant working in a fast-paced environment is more than a primary administrative assistant. Ultimately, they offer a wealth of expertise that can aid an executive's success. Here, we discuss the high-level skillset that an executive assistant may possess alongside their general duties.
What’s an executive assistant?
An executive assistant is an employee that works under a senior management position, such as an office manager/ director or CEO, and they help them with administrative tasks. These tasks can include scheduling, correspondence and purchasing office supplies. They typically have specific skills and experience. Working as an executive assistant may be good if individuals like being exposed to different areas of the business and supporting senior level.
Executive Assistant Responsibilities & Duties
If you’re wondering what executive assistants do, here are some typical day-to-day duties that all executive assistants do, such as:
- Diary and inbox management.
- Scheduling meetings - internally and externally.
- Supervising staff - within the company and external guests.
- Handling communications - speaking to clients, phone calls and emails.
- Preparing reports - expenses and invoices.
- Booking travel and accommodation.
- Preparing presentations for business meetings and pitches.
- Purchasing office supplies - e.g. pens and pencils.
- Organising the office space so it is more inviting.
- Conducting research for the company.
- Maintaining databases, including contact details.
These are just some of the various tasks an executive assistant is responsible for managing, but depending on the employer and industry, duties can vary. You can find more information on our executive assistant job description template.
Top Skills To Look For When Hiring An Executive Assistant
What key skills should you look for when hiring for the role of an executive assistant? Here are the best skills for executive assistants that will enhance your company.
Excellent communication skills are a must. Executive assistants must be able to write and speak clearly to represent the company positively. Additionally, being able to write with good spelling and grammar is necessary, particularly as they’ll be drafting emails, letters, and documents, preparing presentations and taking minutes for meetings. An assistant has to work alongside other team members and deal with clients, meaning understanding what good customer service is will be an asset to the business.
Organisational skills are essential in any type of admin role. Executive assistants must be able to prioritise tasks as there may be deadlines to meet. Duties such as booking travel arrangements and organising meetings should be performed efficiently. Speed is important. If an assistant can implement processes to ensure all tasks are completed thoroughly, it’s a significant advantage.
Being organised often goes hand in hand with good time management skills. When duties need to be performed quickly and efficiently, knowing how to manage time during a workday, and being able to perform tasks confidently, are essential if you want your business to excel.
From finding a hotel room when the city’s booked up to tracking down hot concert tickets, having a network of people to make things happen is an excellent skill. Good connections can go a long way; it takes a confident and proficient assistant to have these relationships at their disposal.
Executive assistants should be tech-savvy, especially as they must use information technology daily. One of the top technical skills for executive assistants is proficiency in Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel and Outlook.
One of the top executive assistant skills to have is multi-tasking. Assistants will often be required to perform more than one duty, whether updating databases, handling phone calls or checking emails. However, it’s still important to pay attention to detail.
Top Qualities of An Executive Assistant
Like skills, there are many qualities that executive assistants possess. Here are some of the best qualities an excellent executive assistant can have.
Willingness to learn
An EA should go the extra mile to help an executive reach their professional goals. A willingness to learn and keep up with tech developments will make a candidate stand out.
Being a team player
A highly experienced EA should be excellent at working within a team. They should consider themselves partners to their executives, working with them to achieve their goals, objectives and results. The best executive assistant for your company will be able to put forward great ideas clearly and concisely to produce outstanding achievements.
Works well under pressure
Executives have demanding, high-pressured jobs, and there may be times when their assistants need to work well under pressure, especially when deadlines are to be met. Keeping calm even when things don’t go to plan is an excellent skill to have. If an assistant can find solutions to problems in the heat of the moment, even better.
Interacting politely and professionally with people from all levels of an organisation is imperative. An executive assistant is often the first point of contact from the business that a client comes into contact with. Therefore, they’re representing the business. Having a warm and friendly demeanour instantly provides a good impression, so clients or customers are likely to keep coming back. Naturally, confidentiality is a must-have trait for any EA to possess too.
Looking to hire an Executive Assistant? Oriel Partners Can Help!
If you are an employer looking for your next executive assistant, Oriel Partners can help you find a highly experienced professional to strengthen your business. Contact us today to find out more about our services.