Executive assistant responsibilities and tasks
The job of an executive assistant is not easy, but it is a very crucial one within any company. It requires a diverse skill set and involves many responsibilities. Without their help, some companies would even struggle to stay afloat. In this guide we’ll cover what an executive assistant is and what their responsibilities and duties are.
What is an executive assistant?
An executive assistant provides administrative support at an executive level within the company. The main tasks of an executive assistant are handling office-management duties, making travel arrangements, handling calendar events, organizing reports and documents, answering phone calls, setting up meetings, screening visitors, and many more similar duties.
The basic education requirement to become an executive assistant is either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. As far as the specialization field is concerned, usually no particular subject is required.
Most companies don’t require any other specific certifications in the job requirements, but if the candidate holds any certification in a related field, it can prove helpful in career advancement. Skills such as problem-solving, time management skills, organizational skills, interpersonal skills, project management skills, and related software knowledge are most often necessary.
Many companies hire separate executive assistants for each executive officer. However, the smaller companies may also hire one executive assistant for several executives. It usually depends on the size of the company and the needs of the executives. If the executive officers cover greater tasks, they would need separate executive assistants and vice versa.
What’s the difference between an executive assistant and an administrative assistant?
An executive assistant takes care of administrative support within a company. Their main responsibility is to manage the business side of a company. It is often confused with an administrative assistant or personal assistant, which differs from the job of an executive assistant on the level of support they provide.
Compared to administrative assistants, executive assistants usually bring more experience, tactical thinking, and proactivity when it comes to coming up with solutions to complex problems.
What does an executive assistant do?
As an executive assistant, no day is the same as they have different tasks and duties every day. One day an executive assistant is handling emails, and the next day they might have to sit in the place of their executive (when the executive officer is out of office). Multitasking is a crucial part of executive assistants’ lives.
Every day brings new challenges, and every day executive assistants have a different routine. An EA gets to work with different company officials and knows how the company’s backend works. Their job is not like the typical nine-to-five job, and they usually get enough flexibility to be creative and handle tasks their own way.
The reason why executive assistants are so important is that they have the power to help multiply the productivity of executives, especially with the right amount of delegation and the right boss-assistant relationship is developed within the right work environment.
Expert executive assistants can understand what their bosses need and swiftly provide the right solutions and they know how to pay attention to the right details. Above all, EAs are able to adapt to ever changing circumstances, they possess excellent written and verbal communication skills, and they are extremely organized and always paying attention to detail.
What is the purpose of an executive assistant?
An executive assistant plays a very important role in a company. The administrative tasks handled by the executive assistant are necessary to ensure a harmonious flow in the company, which would otherwise be altered.
Good communicators, technology-savvy, and great multitaskers, their purpose in one phrase would be to support top-level executives with their expertise and skills.
They serve as the executive officer’s right hand and manage everything that the officer cannot do because of their tight schedule. An executive assistant knows about their officer’s needs, wants, strengths, and weaknesses, and handles all the tasks keeping this in mind.
They know their bosses almost better than they do, they know how to adapt their working style to them and the different circumstances. They're responsible for managing their bosses' schedules, planning meetings and knowing what they're doing and when. Assistants also know when arrangements and plans need to pivot, and act quickly to make sure alternatives solutions are in place.
An executive assistant is definitely not a person whose only duty is to get coffee for their boss—the list of tasks and duties that they’re usually assigned can be very extensive. Furthermore, they need to have thorough knowledge of different software solutions and the right set of skills to complete the everyday job successfully. The EA does not only work for an executive, but they coordinate tasks with almost every member and employee of the company.
Executive assistant duties and tasks list
It often wouldn’t be too far-off to say that an executive assistant has a schedule that’s busier than that of the executive officer themselves. The EA covers a lot of responsibilities and duties on their day-to-day to ensure the proper functioning of the company’s processes.
Following is a list of responsibilities that are present in any executive assistant job description:
- Being the point of contact for general communications with their boss.
- Answering calls and routing them to the right person.
- Making travel arrangements for the executive officer they work for and keeping track of their itineraries.
- Planning and scheduling meetings.
- Recording the meeting (if required).
- Researching and organizing data to represent the senior management, which may include directors, executives, and committees.
- Compiling expense reports.
- Performing bookkeeping tasks.
- Handling memos, reports, invoices, and related documents, including sensitive information.
- Keeping confidential information.
- Screening visitors and deciding if they should be allowed to meet with the executives.
- Going through the incoming documents (memos, invoices) and redistributing them.
- Office duties such as sourcing office supplies and handling the filing system.
- Handling and redistributing faxes and emails.
- Providing complete administrative support.
- Managing and recording the supply needs.
- Acting as a virtual assistant.
- Using technical tools and software such as the Microsoft Office Suite, especially text processing software and Excel spreadsheets.
Although it looks like a long list, the truth is that the job description and list of responsibilities is actually never ending, as there will always be new challenges to overcome and tasks to complete. That may not sound exciting to just everyone, but it can actually be a very rewarding job.
Do executive assistants travel with their bosses?
Executive assistants cover a wide range of duties and jobs for their bosses, including making travel arrangements when required. At times they might also have to travel with their bosses themselves, to assist with tasks during the trip.
When traveling out of the city or country, some executive officers require their assistants to travel with them depending on the work they are traveling for.
Some of the reasons why an executive assistant may accompany their boss during their travels are:
- To assist in decision-making.
- To take meeting notes.
- To communicate and coordinate tasks with the rest of the company back home.
- To take care of the practicalities of the trip so the executive team can focus on the work meetings.
Being an executive assistant is a job that requires a very varied set of skills, both technical and soft skills, from being able to be very precise and attentive to detail while multitasking, to coming up with very creative solutions for specific problems. There is no real routine for an executive assistant, as business and executive needs tend to change from day to day. The working schedule of an EA is always open to changes, so flexibility is an important treat required for the job.