Executive assistants support the top-level executives of an organization and usually report directly to the CEO. Like administrative secretaries, they perform a wide range of clerical work and sometimes act as personal assistants, but they also perform many other tasks. Here are some facts about the job and what it entails.
Executive assistants perform countless tasks such as typing memos and reports, maintaining filing systems, arranging conference calls, preparing documents for meetings and drafting letters for clients. They also handle incoming calls, but the calls they receive are often for top-ranking executives, such as the company's president, CEO or CFO. Executive assistants usually serve as the middle man between these executives and all other parties, including company employees, clients and the media. They typically have direct access to their superiors and can instantly contact them if a person or situation needs their immediate attention.
Additional Responsibilities and Expectations
It's not uncommon for executive assistants to also have management duties. They might be in charge of training and supervising administrative assistants and secretaries throughout the organization, and in some cases, they might even be responsible for recruiting and hiring all clerical staff. Since executive assistants work directly with top-level executives, they have access to a great deal of information, including information about budget cuts, upcoming layoffs or employee investigations. Therefore, they must use discretion when communicating information to administrative assistants and other clerical staff within the organization.
Proficiency in popular document creation or word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, is a must, as executive assistants spend ample time performing basic and advanced clerical work. Strong listening skills, as well as written, verbal and communication skills, are also essential, since executive assistants must relay important information to top-tier executives on a consistent basis, and regularly deliver information to management teams and administrative assistants. Good people skills are also important because a professional demeanor is necessary when speaking with top-level executives and clients. Superior organization and time management skills are necessary, as executives expect their assistants to keep the office running as smoothly as possible and rely on them to keep track of travel plans, meetings, upcoming bills and important business events.
Required Education and Experience
While most companies prefer executive assistants to have at least a bachelor's degree, this level of education is not necessary since most professional assistants are trained on the job. However, many corporations require at least five years of experience working as an administrative assistant in a corporate environment.
An executive assistant is essentially the boss' "right-hand person." These professionals hold a more elite status within the company than an administrative assistant or office clerk, as they usually perform more complex tasks and have access to sensitive company information. Corporate executives greatly rely on executive assistants and consider them to be an essential part of their team.
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