A top-notch executive assistant can help keep an executive's life running smoothly. Perhaps not surprisingly, executive assistant jobs can involve a range of important responsibilities. In fact, their job description can include managing the boss's calendar, screening calls, scheduling meetings, preparing financial and data reports, helping to coordinate projects — and this is just a partial list.
Exceptional executive assistants are technical whizzes, masters of time management and extraordinary team players who can work well with all levels of internal management and staff. In short, an outstanding executive assistant is indispensable to an organization — which is why hiring the right one can be a challenge.
Know what you need in an executive assistant
The first step when recruiting for an executive assistant is knowing which skills and attributes are essential to your particular organization and to you. When it comes to technical abilities, look for candidates for executive assistant jobs who possess strong software skills and Internet research capabilities and advanced proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. Ideal candidates also should have a working knowledge of database management software such as Microsoft Access and FileMaker Pro or other specialized software used by your firm.
Because the person interacts with everyone from clients to vendors, an executive assistant should have excellent verbal and written communication skills. An executive assistant is often the go-to person in their boss's absence, so he or she should have good problem-solving and leadership skills. Since the assistant is sometimes privy to sensitive information, it's essential that this administrative professional can be relied upon to maintain strict confidentiality.
Could you use some guidance on the right salary range to offer to attract great candidates for executive assistant jobs? Take a look at OfficeTeam's latest Administrative Salary Guide.
The best way to hire for executive assistant jobs
Of course, knowing what to look for in an executive assistant is one thing. Knowing the best way to hire one when executive assistant jobs open up is another. Here are some tips for hiring a great executive assistant:
Write an accurate job description
Be sure to list all the responsibilities the executive assistant will be expected to handle in your job description, and be specific. For example, will you require your executive assistant to give PowerPoint presentations or stand in for you at meetings? Will he or she be in charge of managing and training support staff? The job description should serve as the basis for the job posting, so the more detailed you are in writing it, the more effective it will be in attracting the right candidates.
Evaluate the candidate as a whole
When reviewing resumes, look to see if candidates have all the attributes needed for the position. Just because an applicant is an experienced administrative assistant, for example, don't assume he or she has what it takes to transition to an executive assistant role. Both positions share a basic core skill set, but an executive assistant's role requires more initiative, problem-solving and self-discipline. When evaluating candidates for executive assistant jobs, dig deeper for indications of these and other skills by also considering activities like volunteering or involvement in professional organizations.
Fine-tune your interview questions
You can gauge whether a candidate is self-directed enough for an executive assistant position by assessing the way he or she answers thought-provoking questions during the interview process. For example, asking someone how he or she would handle an urgent matter if a senior manager couldn't be reached is a way to determine whether the candidate has the problem-solving skills needed for executive assistant jobs.
Finding a skilled executive assistant requires more time and expertise than most managers think. Consider using a specialized professional staffing agency to help you find the right person. Recruiters have access to a broader range of candidates for executive assistant jobs, can vet applicants more quickly, and can keep you abreast of the latest administrative hiring and compensation trends.
Ready to talk to a specialized staffing agency? OfficeTeam is here to help you hire for executive assistant jobs on a temporary or temp-to-permanent basis.