New York City, perhaps America’s most prominent mecca of business and high-powered executives, provides seemingly endless opportunities for executive assistants. It has no shortage of financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, the New York Stock Exchange and dozens more.
The C-suite feels right at home here, and positions are readily available for administrative professionals who are driven, proactive and quick to learn. “It’s a very hot market, very competitive for employers,” says Daryl Pigat, a Robert Half recruiter experienced in placing administrative professionals. “We’re having to tap into passive job seekers and referrals from other candidates to find top admin talent.”
The largest metropolitan area in the U.S., the City That Never Sleeps is known for its dynamism and job opportunities — but also its high cost of living. The 2018 OfficeTeam Salary Guide shows that salaries here trend 40.5 percent above the national average. This is to compensate, in part, for high taxes and housing prices.
Still, New York remains attractive to many job seekers, not only for its plentiful professional opportunities but also its status as a cultural hub. Broadway shows, prestigious art museums and galleries, television and movie production, and historic attractions only scratch the surface of all that makes up the excitement of living here. Despite the high price of entry and day-to-day downsides like infamously high traffic congestion, it ranks No. 4 overall in our Career City Index for quality of life
Executive assistant salary
The salary midpoint for an executive assistant in New York City is $73,060. Entry-level candidates or those working at smaller organizations can expect starting salaries around the $59,010 mark. Senior EAs working at multinational firms, as well as those with years of experience in hot industries like healthcare and finance, may see earnings up to $101,160.
In extreme cases, especially where deep industry connections come into play, salaries can go even higher. “We just filled an EA position with one of the highest salaries I can remember, for a private equity firm,” says Pigat. “The base for this role was $200,000. The candidate had in-depth knowledge of the finance industry and was aware of not just the players in the media but the who’s who of that world. She even knew who certain financial players were partners with.”
A singular focus on skills
Executive assistants share many of the same duties as administrative assistants, but EAs tend to focus on one CEO, vice president or a senior management team rather than an entire office. They are in charge of their boss’s calendar and travel arrangements, and they sometimes supervise other administrative support staff. They often play a large role in planning events, tracking expenses, creating presentations and even managing their exec’s social media presence.
Employers in New York City expect executive assistants to have at least the following:
- A high school diploma, although a college degree is often preferred — especially for senior-level positions and in large companies
- At least three years of experience
- Strong technical and research skills
- Proficiency in all Microsoft Office applications
- Experience with customer relationship management (CRM) and database software, as well as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
- Strong organizational and project management skills
- Ability to comfortably interact with individuals at all levels of the organization and outside the company
- Discretion with and sensitivity to confidential information
As New York City is arguably the country’s most international and diverse city, bilingualism is also a major asset. For many EA positions, fluency in a language other than English is a requirement.
For specific industries, additional skills may be required. In the field of finance, for example, employers may also expect experience with tax filing, compliance reporting and accounts payable.
Soft skills are a must
Many executives prize their assistants’ interpersonal skills as much as — if not more than — their technical savvy. Because EAs are the gatekeepers for and representatives of their boss, they must possess a high level of professionalism and communication abilities.
“An executive admin has to have a personality that matches the client,” says Pigat. “We have candidates with the right technical skills interview all the time, but the client comes back and says, ‘We didn’t feel the connection.’ Putting your personality out there is part of the process.”
Adaptability and unflappability are pluses, as executive assistants wear multiple hats and juggle myriad duties. “Some EA positions require an openness to doing more personal tasks for your boss,” says Pigat. “You may get asked to book a trip for a family member or oversee household staff.”
He adds that it’s fine for candidates to draw a line regarding performing personal requests. It’s a good idea, however, to make the company aware of any boundaries during the interview process. After all, the job description line “performs other duties as required” is tailor-made for this role.
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