Do you want to become an executive assistant? Learn everything you need to know about working as an executive assistant, where to find jobs and the skills you need.
If you’d love to use your skills to support C-suite-level professionals, you may be wondering how to become a successful executive assistant. We’ll share everything you need to know to get started on the career path with confidence.
Quickstart Guide To Becoming An Executive Assistant
- Go to our executive assistant job description. Take a look at the duties and responsibilities and then make updates to your resume using some of those specific keywords. If you need resume help, we recommend working with a resume writing service.
- Go to ZipRecruiter and upload your resume to their resume database. This allows potential employers to locate your resume.
What Is An Executive Assistant?
An executive assistant is an administrative professional who serves as a gatekeeper between one or more executives and those who want access to them. The executive assistant and administrative assistant roles are similar in that they both handle clerical tasks. However, the executive assistant takes on higher-level responsibilities and may manage other administrative employees.
What Does An Executive Assistant Do?
As an executive assistant, you could find yourself:
- Triaging all incoming requests, only allowing the most critical to reach the executives
- Preparing and editing correspondence, presentations, or other documents
- Setting up meetings
- Managing each executive’s calendar
- Planning and coordinating travel and company events
- Implementing new processes and procedures
- Answering phone calls and emails
- Handling sensitive information
- Conducting research and writing up findings
- Managing one or more administrative assistants
- Completing various clerical tasks
The scope of the executive assistant role will vary by company, so the tasks above are not an exhaustive list of potential job duties.
Skills An Executive Assistant Should Have
To be a successful executive assistant, you should have the following knowledge, skills, abilities, and traits:
- Business savvy
- Communication (verbal and written)
- Discretion and tact
- Detail-oriented — but able to see the big picture
- Even-keeled demeanor
Remember, the more you know and can do, the more valuable you’ll be to your executives. To learn more about the duties and responsibilities of an executive assistant, check out our executive assistant job description.
Executive Assistant Salary
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for an executive assistant is around $64,000, or $31 per hour. However, you could earn more or less based on your location, experience, and skill set.
How To Become An Executive Assistant
You can become an executive assistant through a combination of education and experience. Of course, each company’s requirements are different, but here are some of the steps you can take to stand out as a candidate:
- Earn a college degree (a high school diploma or the equivalent is required).
- Work for several years in an administrative position — and rack up some impressive accomplishments.
- Become certified. The Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant (ACEA) or the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) credential are two options worth exploring.
- Have industry-related (think finance, technology, legal, or manufacturing) experience and knowledge.
If you’re brand new to the administrative world, you can still work towards becoming an executive assistant. Your best bet is to find ways to build skills and gain experience within your current role so that you can make the transition eventually.
You can do this by taking on some clerical tasks to help others. Over time, you can assume more and more administrative responsibility. You’ll show great initiative and gradually acquire the knowledge you need to succeed in the position.
If you’re just entering the workforce, consider completing a college internship or volunteering at an organization where you’ll acquire and hone administrative skills. Then, be sure to highlight that experience on your resume.
Pro Tip: No matter where you are in your career, you should try to network with other executive assistants and executives. You never know who you’ll impress — or who will connect you with an opportunity.
Executive Assistant Courses
As an executive assistant (or aspiring executive assistant), you should continuously look for ways to improve your skillset. Many free and paid courses on the market can help you further your career. Here are six of them for you to consider, based on key competencies you should have to be successful in the profession:
- Business Writing: Learn how to express yourself clearly in writing in a business setting.
- Microsoft Office 365 Fundamentals: Master the basics of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
- Microsoft Outlook: Become a power user of Microsoft’s email and calendar system.
- Google Workspace: Be your company’s go-to on everything Google — Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Chat, and Meet.
- Communication and Interpersonal Skills: Hone your ability to actively listen, build trust, resolve conflict, and understand different communication styles.
- Time Management: Learn how to set goals, get organized, prioritize tasks, and schedule your work.
Pro Tip: If you want to be an executive assistant in a particular industry, take a course to learn about that niche. For example, if you plan to be the right-hand person of a hotel executive, you should brush up on your hospitality and tourism industry knowledge.
Where To Find Executive Assistant Jobs
You can find executive assistant jobs in various places. Here are a few of our top picks:
ZipRecruiter is a popular job board where you can search and apply for executive assistant roles. The search function is simple to use, and you can filter the results by distance (if not remote), salary, date posted, and other criteria.
For more information, check out our ZipRecruiter review.
Indeed is another well-known job board that’s worth using. Simply enter the search term “executive assistant,” specify your location (including remote), filter the results, and apply for the roles that interest you.
For more information, check out our Indeed review.
LinkedIn has a job board that functions similarly to ZipRecruiter and Indeed. But, the platform also lets you research companies, network with potential employers, and highlight your expertise by sharing posts on the social media feed.
For more information, check out our LinkedIn review.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a successful executive assistant?
A successful executive assistant possesses key knowledge, skills, and abilities, including but not limited to tech-savvy, business savvy, independent thinking, proactivity, discretion, resourcefulness, and innovation. They must also be effective communicators, both verbally and in writing.
What does a CEO look for in an executive assistant?
A CEO looks for their executive assistant to complete work proactively, quickly, and accurately. They also need someone who will be a good steward of their time and attention, only allowing the most critical inquiries to reach their desk.
How do I sell myself as an executive assistant?
You can sell yourself as an executive assistant by being professional and organized, handling confidential information with care, communicating effectively, and taking the initiative daily.
How do you nail an executive assistant interview?
You can nail an executive assistant interview by learning about the role, researching the executives you'd support, practicing common interview questions, dressing professionally, arriving on time, highlighting your relevant education, skills, and experience, asking thoughtful questions, reiterating your interest in the position, and following up with a thank you email immediately after the meeting.
Is executive assistant a stressful job?
Being an executive assistant can be a very stressful job, especially when you support multiple demanding members of your company’s C-suite. You can demonstrate your value to the organization by staying calm under pressure.
Why does a CEO need an executive assistant?
A CEO has a hectic schedule and must juggle countless competing priorities. An executive assistant can help them meet their goals by taking administrative tasks off their plate, protecting their calendar, and providing support as needed.
What are the skills of an executive assistant?
An executive assistant needs many skills to succeed in their role. The top competencies required include multitasking, time management, communication, attention to detail, and discretion.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know how to become a successful executive assistant, are you ready to apply for your next job? If so, start your search on ZipRecruiter. But, if you need a little help with your resume first, check out one of our picks for the best resume writing service. We’re rooting for you!