Top 5 Job Search Tips for Executive Assistants
Executive Assistants work hard behind the scenes to make sure everything at an organization runs smoothly. If you’re hunting for one of these positions, here are five ways to stand out in a competitive job market.
Guest Post by: Auria Heanley | Co-Founder of Oriel Partners
Are you highly organized, a quick communicator, and great with details? You’ll probably make an excellent executive assistant! But before that you have an important challenge: How will you communicate those skills to companies to convince them to hire you?
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more vital than ever to stand out in the eyes of recruiters. If you’re looking for an Executive Assistant role, these tips from Administrative recruitment experts will give you valuable tips to help you secure that all-important next position.
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What Does an Executive Assistant Do?
An executive assistant works directly for an individual or several senior executives providing business (and sometimes personal) support. An EA will take away the stresses of logistics and administration to allow the executive to focus on the needs of the business.
Each role is different, and duties depend on what the person you’re supporting requires. However, typical Executive Assistant duties include:
- diary and inbox management
- booking travel
- scheduling meetings
- managing expenses
- correspondence with stakeholders
- preparing Board packs
- taking minutes in meetings
- managing junior administrative staff
- organizing personal duties
- assisting with the operations of the business
For more information on what an Executive Assistant role entails, view this EA job description.
How To Land the Perfect Executive Assistant Role for You
Job hunting is not easy, and it’s easy to get disheartened if you don’t secure the first couple of roles you apply for. But, fear not – it is possible to find a job you love. We’re here to give you insider tips so that you can stand out and impress your potential employer at every stage of applying and interviewing for an Executive Assistant role.
1. Perfect your resume
When you are looking for a new Executive Assistant role, your resume is a potential employer’s first impression of you, so it needs to be easy to read and understand. Keep it concise and relevant, with a maximum length of two pages. Ideally, your resume should show a clear narrative of your work history and showcase your biggest work achievements. Highlight your most relevant experiences for the duties of this particular role, including common hard and soft skills for an executive assistant. This could mean emphasizing skills like:
- Booking travel and meetings
- Using discretion and confidentiality
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office
- Preparing agendas, presentations and reports
- Maintaining an efficient diary/calendar
- Dealing with correspondence
- Editing and proofreading
Make sure the format is consistent all the way through and double-check that there are no spelling and grammatical errors — you would be surprised how many typos even the most professional PAs and Executive Assistants forget to correct!
Bear in mind, excellent attention to detail and diligence are crucial things that employers will be looking for in an EA hire. So, your resume itself is your first opportunity to showcase these skills.
2. Research the company
When you are asked for an interview for an Executive Assistant role, preparation is key. Do your research on the company, the role, and the people you are set to meet. It’s an especially good idea to find out more about the person or team you’re going to be an assistant for.
Often, employees will have profiles on the company website. If they don’t, have a look on LinkedIn instead. You never know, you could have gone to the same university or grown up in the same town and all this will be helpful when trying to stand out.
It is also worthwhile to look online and see if the company or the person you will be assisting has had any press coverage recently. This knowledge will show the interviewee you have done your homework and are serious about working there. One thing employers are looking for in an Executive Assistant role is somebody who has their ear to the ground and can act as the eyes and ears of the company — this is a good way to demonstrate this.
Another thing to research is the company values and mission. You can find this information on the company website or you can reach out to current employees to ask. As an executive assistant, you would be expected to live and breathe the company’s values, so taking the initiative to learn all about them will help you to stand out.
3. Prepare for common Executive Assistant interview questions
Competency-based interviews are becoming more common in Executive Assistant interviews and these questions are not always easy to answer. The questions are aimed at seeing your working style and your personality – they’re particularly designed to see if you would be a good fit for the person you would be assisting. Sometimes questions might throw you, but this shows how you perform under pressure. The more you have prepared, the better you will come across.
Be prepared to answer questions about how much you expect to be compensated for the role and when you could start if you were to have a successful interview. A few other questions you may be asked include:
- How do you deal with challenging situations arising?
- How do you prioritize your workload?
- Describe a time when you had to alter a schedule due to unforeseen circumstances.
- What do you think an executive assistant brings to a company?
- What are your strengths? How do you think these would benefit an executive assistant role?
- What is your strategy for handling several urgent tasks all at once?
- What skills characterize an excellent executive assistant?
- Describe a time when you had to deal with a heavy workload that went outside the regular workday environment.
4. Present yourself appropriately
On top of preparing for the interview itself, it is essential that you arrive on time and dress appropriately. An executive assistant is a highly professional role, meaning that you need to present yourself as a confident and capable individual. It is key that you look polished with neat hair, freshly-ironed clothes, polished shoes and a subtle smell of perfume or aftershave. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep beforehand so you are alert and on form.
Polite etiquette will also be beneficial and paint you in a positive light; stand up when the interviewee enters the room, give a firm handshake, eye contact, and a big smile. As an Executive Assistant is responsible for liaising with key stakeholders, employees will be looking for your ability to come across well and quickly build rapport.
At the end of the interview, thank them for their time and be sure to send a follow-up note via email. You want to stand out from others and these little details can make a big impact.
5. Partner with a good recruitment agency
Registering with a specialist PA and secretarial recruitment agency that knows you and your aspirations well will allow you to be represented appropriately when that all-important new Executive Assistant role comes in. A good agency will help support and guide you through the search, application, and interview process which will give you the best chance of finding the right role for you.
There are so many positive steps you can take to help yourself when it comes to searching for a new Executive Assistant role. Job hunting can be stressful for anyone, but by using these insider tips from professional recruiters, you can set yourself apart.
About the Author
Auria Heanley is co-founder of Oriel Partners, a boutique PA, EA and administrative recruitment consultancy based in Central London. She is extremely passionate about providing the highest quality of service to both clients and candidates. Oriel Partners’ clients range from global multinationals to small boutique firms, all requiring the same personal service and high caliber support.
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