So You Need an Executive Assistant

Most organizations don’t hesitate to hire a designer to create a company website, system administrators to keep technical operations running smoothly or financial analysts to offer advice on securities and investments. But one key role that’s often overlooked is that of an executive assistant. Even CFOs can find themselves caught up in administrative work, making it more difficult for them to do their “regular” jobs. In fact, more than one-third of CFOs polled in a Robert Half survey stated the one responsibility they would most like to eliminate is basic clerical and administrative work.

An administrative professional can be an invaluable addition to your team. The key is recruiting the ideal person for the job. Read on to learn how to find the perfect fit for your organization’s needs. 

Clearly state the responsibilities of the position and your expectations.

Because clerical duties vary greatly from one company to the next, so will the responsibilities of a financial administrative professional. When drafting a job posting, avoid vague descriptions of skills and cut to the chase. Provide applicants with a detailed list of the exact duties you expect your executive assistant to perform. These can run the gamut, from formatting executive reports to drafting a letter requesting a payment deadline extension and contacting a caterer for your department’s next staff meeting.

Conduct a thorough candidate search and evaluation.

In addition to pinging your network, consider reaching out to a specialized staffing agency or the career placement center at a local business school to find administrative candidates. Prepare to spend some time finding the right person.

Some people may think “clerical” when they hear “administrative,” but great administrators serve a key function: They’re the glue that holds an organization together. Once you’ve narrowed down candidates based on their in-person interviews, follow up to assess their communication skills and professionalism across the board.

Remember that for many clients and customers, your executive assistant will be their first point of contact, and you want him or her to provide a great first impression of your organization. Personality and attitude are key: Look for a candidate who you feel understands your company culture and can act as a positive representative.

Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

One of the best ways to land A-list prospects is to offer a competitive salary and benefits package to show you value their talents and skills. If you’re a smaller organization that can’t match the numbers of larger competitors, provide employees with more opportunities to achieve work-life balance, such as a day or two in which they work remotely or observe a relaxed dress code. Another way to attract driven candidates is to offer continuing education and career advancement opportunities.

What do you look for in an executive assistant? Share your thoughts in the comments below.