29 Apr How to Become an Executive Assistant – Ultimate Guide
If you’re a multi-tasker who loves organizing, planning, and taking care of menial tasks for top-level executives and CEOs of a company, being an executive assistant is a wise career choice. An executive assistant provides administrative support to high-level executives making their tasks easier while maintaining confidentiality. Here are the vital steps to becoming an executive assistant.
Research the Job Requirements
First and foremost, you should research the job’s legal and corporal requirements. Go through the rules and legislations of your state and cross-verify whether you meet the requirements. Consult with a lawyer or a legal representative to get a better idea. Immigrants and foreigners on a work visa must have a work permit. However, some states may require you to be a legal US resident. A better understanding of job requirements prepares you for the field.
After checking all the legal requirements with a green tick, you need to confirm if you fulfill the physical requirements of the job. You must be physically, mentally, and emotionally sound and have strong managerial skills. You need to be able to handle all tasks swiftly and efficiently. You’ll be dealing with high-pressure situations, so having medical conditions such as anxiety or frequent and unexpected panic attacks can disqualify you from getting the job. You may be ruled out as an eligible candidate if you have stage fright and can’t give a presentation or speak in front of a mass of people. So, conduct thorough research, and you won’t be caught off-guard!
Obtain the Necessary Education and Qualification
This role requires a person who can manage finance and handle administrative tasks. So, a solid educational background is necessary. Formal education will give you the necessary knowledge and back your credentials as an eligible candidate. It’ll boost your morale and confidence in getting the job done. Also, obtaining a degree or a certification in a related field gives you even more advantage in this competitive market. It proves that you take the responsibility seriously and are dedicated to your job.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum, so consider business administration, finances, project management, and tech support. Since you’ll be catering to the needs of executives and CEOs, you should take up some physical or online courses on hospitality management and customer service as well. Having legit certifications on your resume that can back your skills and demonstrate your expertise will give your application the boost it needs to get shortlisted. It’s like a cherry on top of your already amazing skill set. So, take your time and gather as many certifications as you can!
Develop Strong Interpersonal and Organizational Skills
As an executive assistant, you will be your boss’s and other executives’ primary point of contact. Thus, you must develop strong interpersonal and communication skills. You should remain calm and exhibit confidence while talking to clients and business partners of your employer. Always listen more and talk less. Being an assistant for the company’s top brass requires you to radiate professionalism. So, learn the technical terms and jargon of the industry and use them in company meetings and conferences.
You’re the right-hand man of the executive, meaning you’ll be responsible for managing their schedule, coordinating meetings, prioritizing emails, and making travel arrangements. It calls for excellent multitasking and organizational skill. The office workflow will become smooth and administrative tasks will run without hassle. You’re not on your own. Learn to work in a team and coordinate with other assistants. And remember, little things matter, so to keep your boss happy, hone your ability to pay attention to details, prioritize tasks in the to-do list, and manage time effectively.
Familiarize Yourself with Technology
In a big corporation, computers will automate the most repetitive and mundane tasks, and it’s your job to operate them. This role requires a tech wizard who can utilize the technology to its full potential. Therefore, if you want to secure your dream job, then familiarize yourself with the latest tools and software used in the industry. Get in-depth knowledge regarding day-to-day office software such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Different organizations may use different tailored software, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it easier to manage the daily tasks and improve efficiency.
In today’s digital world, you should also make your workspace digital. You should know google calendar, google meet, and google drive like the back of your hand. A good understanding of email etiquette and digital communication is also necessary. Moreover, with good technical skills, you can manage finances accurately and give the CEO all the data they need to make statistically favorable decisions. Not having these essential skills and being oblivious about them can be a real buzz-kill for the employer.
Gain Experience and Build a Network
The next big step is to get some work experience. You can take up internships or entry-level jobs in the related field to gain experience. Many human resource and consultancy companies offer paid internships in administrative support, office management, scheduling, and project management. It is a great opportunity to learn and grow while getting hands-on experience in a professional environment. Plus, internships enrich you with industry-specific knowledge you can’t find elsewhere. You can search for internships through social media and other online job portals.
As an executive assistant, building a wide network of connections is just as important as getting experience. Not only will your network provide you with the necessary resources and support to succeed in your role, but it will also help you in providing excellent service to your principal. As the gatekeeper to your principal, it is your responsibility to know or research anything that your principal might need, from the best restaurants to the most appropriate gifts and trendy activities. This requires having a deep understanding of the city in which you work and being familiar with every place your principal travels. Building a strong network can provide you with the connections you need to quickly and efficiently access this information. Attending industry events, training, and seminars can also give you the opportunity to connect with people in the field and learn about new resources and best practices. Having a vast network of contacts in your industry will come in handy when you need referrals or recommendations from someone in a high position who can put in good words for you.
Brush up Your Resume
A good resume can land you that job you’ve been looking for, and at the same time, a bad resume can spill water into your dream. You should be very careful about presenting your resume while applying for the position. An ideal resume should be single pages, visually attractive, and easy to follow. Also, don’t go overboard with the design and make it too colorful, as it may backfire on you. Try to stick with the standard template of Harvard or Oxford. When preparing a CV, highlight your achievements and showcase your skills. Remember to flaunt your certifications as well.
Keep your CV concise and relevant. You can personalize it according to the job description and show how you meet the client’s needs. Additionally, proofread your resume after finishing it up. Having a second set of eyes is always good for catching mistakes or inconsistencies. You want to avoid any semantic and grammatical errors. After ensuring you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s, it’s finally time to apply for the post of executive assistant.
Apply for the Position
You’re a qualified candidate with a professional resume. All that’s left is to hunt for the job and apply for the position. Look around your neighborhood to find out whether there is any vacancy. You must put yourself out there and let people know you are seeking a job. If any opportunity that interests you and fits your qualification comes knocking at your door, it’s best to apply. But don’t forget to do some digging on the potential employer to verify whether you two are a good fit for each other.
If you can’t find your match, try snooping around social media groups and online human resource or consultancy platforms. You can also try casting a wider net by contacting your network of connections. Don’t get discouraged by rejection letters. Instead, keep on searching and applying until you find your dream company!
Sign a Contract and an NDA
Now that you’re offered a job, it’s time to seal the deal with a legally binding contract and a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). A contract outlines the terms and conditions of your job, including the job responsibilities, work hours, holidays, paychecks, termination clauses, and additional perks. It lays ground rules that both the employer and employee must comply with. Carefully read all the terms and conditions before inking the contract. If you feel uncomfortable with some clauses, put your thoughts forward and negotiate with the hiring committee. Also, consult a lawyer if you can’t understand the jargon and technical lexicons.
Signing an NDA ensures that the confidential information of the office is not leaked to other parties. It forbids you from sharing sensitive corporate information with others. After agreeing to both documents and making the deal official with a signature, keep a copy with yourself.
Congratulations! You’ve become an executive assistant. Keep learning and developing your skills to stay ahead in this highly competitive industry. Give your best shot and surprise your superiors with hard work. Remember to embrace all the feedback and criticisms.