Behind almost every executive, you will find an executive assistant who makes business happen. This role provides high-level administration support to the executive boss, and can include scheduling meetings, handling correspondence and preparing reports amongst a myriad of other things.
One of the most important skills that an executive assistant needs is good communication. Grammar, punctuation and spelling are very important when writing letters, minutes of meetings and memos and good written work will always give a very good impression both inside and outside of the company. Discussions take place not only with colleagues, but also with members of the public and other senior executives, so it is also very important to speak clearly and concisely. Always give your full attention to whatever people say and ask as many relevant questions as you can. Listening carefully to the needs of others will enable you to make the right decisions at all levels.
This job can be very fast paced and carry with it a number of responsibilities. Being organised and managing your time and workspace is vital. An executive assistant is expected to keep his/her executive’s diary, track meetings and other activities, arrange business travel and arrange conferences and other corporate events. Try to avoid being in the situation where there are conflicting priorities for your boss and help him/her to meet all deadlines.
An executive assistant frequently has to prepare reports, presentations, letters, e-mails and other documents. This means that you will need to know how to use every conceivable piece of office equipment, be it a photocopier, a fax machine or a computer. Both hardware and software moves on at an alarming rate, so you will need to be adaptable and happy with keeping up with all the latest technology. Evening classes are a good idea if you need to brush up on skills or want to learn how to use new software, or there are several companies which offer online tutorials. If you don’t have an IT department within the company, you either need to know how to troubleshoot yourself, or keep a number handy for a specialist you can call on should any equipment go wrong.
In most cases, executive assistants are left to their own devices and so you need to be comfortable in making decisions on your own. Recognise problems as they arise and refer them right away to the person who is able to resolve them. Logical thinking is needed to allow you to understand the problems more clearly.
Teamwork is key for an executive assistant. Together with your executive and other employees, you will form a team which should have a strong working relationship both within the company and with clients. The best way to think of this is to regard yourself and your executive as partners and work really hard to reach your mutual goals. Never miss an opportunity to improve your skills which will always help you to advance in your job. The best working relationships between executive and assistant is one where you regard accomplishments as a joint effort.
The positive thing about being a good, invaluable executive assistant, is that as you gain more skills and experience, you can expect to earn more, so you will not only grow and develop as a person, you will be regarded more highly and receive a higher salary as a result!