Finding the best executive assistant for CEOs is a lot like finding the best tennis partner for you. You want someone who has your back and understands your game but also has complementary skills that will help you win.
And this goes both ways. The right assistant can help you be more productive and effective, but it’s up to you to find them.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines an executive assistant’s job as one that provides high-level administrative support. The job also requires performing routine administrative functions like preparing correspondence, scheduling meetings, receiving visitors, and arranging conference calls. As of May 2021, there were 466,910 executive assistants employed in the country.
To help CEOs find their ideal assistants, we’ve put together this quick guide on how to look for the right fit and avoid burnout along the way.
Table of Contents
Define the Job Requirements
Before you start your search, it’s important to have a clear idea of what the job entails. A well-defined job description will help you find candidates who are a good fit for your organization.
Make sure it answers the following questions:
- What skills are required?
- What responsibilities come with the position? Are they specific to this role or similar ones in other positions at your company?
- What environmental factors must be considered when filling this role (e.g., travel requirements)?
Hire the Right Agency
To find the right executive assistant recruitment agency for your company, you’ll need to do some research. Here’s what to look for in an executive assistant service:
- Reputation: The best way to gauge an agency’s reputation is by looking at their reviews online and asking around with friends or colleagues who have used similar services. You can also check out their LinkedIn page (or website) to see what kind of companies they’ve worked with before.
- Client support: An executive assistant service should be available whenever you need them. That means answering calls within 24 hours and responding promptly via email or text message when appropriate. If an agency doesn’t seem willing or able to commit fully toward providing this level of support, move on.
Use a Comprehensive Recruitment Process
To ensure you hire the right person, use a comprehensive recruitment process. This will allow you to gather as much information about your candidates as possible and make sure they’re qualified for the job.
Ensure the following:
- Ask for resumes, references, cover letters, and portfolios of work
- Conduct phone interviews with finalists
- Meet with finalists in person (if possible)
Look For Relevant Experience
When you’re looking for a new executive assistant, they must have relevant experience. How can you tell if someone’s background is relevant? Here are some things to consider:
- Does their previous work experience align with your company’s goals? If the answer is yes, then this candidate may be a good fit for you.
- Will they be able to hit the ground running at your company because of their familiarity with similar companies and industries? This will help them contribute more quickly than someone without that kind of knowledge base.
- Can this person communicate effectively with others in your organization (particularly those who report directly or indirectly) via email or phone calls? If not, then perhaps this isn’t going to work out as well as expected once onboarded into your business environment.
Assess Technical Skills
There’s a reason that technical skills are essential for this job. While you might not be able to tell if your new assistant is great at organizing schedules and managing projects, some things can give you an idea of how well they’ll perform in the position.
For example, do they know how to use project Management tools? Do they have experience with email and calendar management? If so, then this may be an indication of their ability as executive assistants. And if not, then it might be worth reconsidering whether or not this person should be considered for employment by your company.
Evaluate Communication Skills
When looking for an executive assistant, it’s important to understand the role of communication. The best executive assistants should be able to communicate clearly and effectively with their team members.
They should also be able to communicate your needs to other people on your team or in different departments within your company so that they can help you achieve your goals.
Communication skills are especially important when working as an executive assistant because you need them to get things done quickly and efficiently, without misunderstandings between parties involved in completing tasks or projects.
Consider Adaptability and Problem-Solving Skills
It’s important to find an executive assistant who can adapt to changing circumstances and solve problems. In addition, it’s helpful if they have good problem-solving skills, think outside of the box, and work well with others.
According to CNBC, more companies are shifting from traditional measures like years of experience and degrees to skill-based hiring. It ensures that the person on the job can deliver. Problem-solving is among the top skills an organization looks for in a potential candidate.
Check for a Positive Attitude and Strong Work Ethic
A positive attitude is a key factor in any job, but it’s especially important for those who work with CEOs. A positive attitude can help you to solve problems, work with people and be productive. A positive attitude is contagious. If you have one, it will rub off on others around you as well.
Ask for References
According to Entrepreneur, reference letters are one of the most important tools in a candidate’s job search. It’s an overall statement of their skills, achievements, and how they will add value to the next role. Hiring managers can expect at least one recommendation letter, but three to five is the best practice.
The right assistant will make your life easier and allow you to focus on running your business instead of worrying about the details, like scheduling appointments or remembering passwords. By following these tips, you can find the best executive assistant for your CEO and ensure that they have the support they need to be successful.