10 Skills to Look for When Hiring Your Next Rock Star Assistant
When you think about executive assistants, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It might be the constant on-the-go and hardworking Andy Sachs from “The Devil Wears Prada,” or maybe you think of the traditional administrative roles portrayed in “Mad Men.” And while executive assistants often handle the tasks depicted in both of these shows, we’re here to tell you that they are pushing the boundaries of executive support and doing so much more.
Modern-day executive assistants are organizers, strategic partners, problem solvers, time savers, culture enthusiasts, event planners, trusted confidants, and so much more. In fact, a rock star assistant is often the secret weapon for the company and the executives.
With all of the demands of this position, you need to have someone with the right skills for it to be a truly successful role. So when you are looking for a new executive assistant, what should you be looking for? In this post, we are going to talk about the top skills a rock star executive assistant should have.
Expert Communication Skills
There will be many instances where your executive assistant will be the face of your company. Not only will they be communicating with employees, clients, and vendors, they may also represent you in meetings you are unable to attend. It is vital for an executive assistant to be able to communicate verbally and through written word. This may sound like a basic skill, but there is a ton of relief that comes with knowing you can trust your assistant to communicate effectively and professionally.
Creative Problem Solving and Resourcefulness
While executive assistant is synonymous with support, problem-solving is for sure a close second. It doesn’t matter if a team member needs to learn how to use the fax machine or an executive needs research to back up a report for an important meeting, an executive assistant is often the one that is responsible for the task. So having an assistant that has an arsenal of secret weapons or knows where to find them and the skills to creatively solve problems on a regular basis are invaluable skills you should be searching for.
Can Remain Calm Under Pressure
Let’s get real for a second. Working in an executive assistant position comes with a lot of pressure and demand. Their day could change in the blink of an eye, and they need to be able to adapt to rapid changes without turning into a mess of stress. While not every day will be full of changes with little fires to put out, your assistant has to be ready for when those days do happen.
Being organized may seem like a simple skill most people possess, but when it comes to the role of an executive assistant, they need this basic skill and more. An assistant will be juggling multiple projects at once, planning out the days for busy executives, and will be keeping files and other important items easy to find. It is almost impossible to excel in this role without advanced organization skills.
Willingness to Learn
In order to push the boundaries of this role, a rock star assistant must possess a willingness to learn. Gone are the days of showing up to work and knowing exactly what you need to do and when to do it. As technology advances and businesses adapt to changes, your assistant may need to perform tasks they have never thought about doing before, and it is just as important to teach them. You may need your assistant to support you in a variety of ways, so find someone that is willing to learn new skills.
Ability to Anticipate Your Needs
Executive assistants are almost like mind-readers. How many times have you walked into your office and seen a once messy desk organized, or your favorite drink on an extremely busy day? Assistants need to get close to you and learn how to anticipate the things you need without you having to ask. This will help you focus on the important things instead of all of the small things that don’t matter as much.
Time Management Mastery
Time-management skills may seem as basic as they come, but your assistant will not only be managing your time but theirs also. You both need to be as efficient as possible to keep the company growing, so hiring an assistant that can juggle multiple projects, prioritize their time, and still meet deadlines is key to a successful boss/assistant relationship.
Big Picture Thinking
As we said earlier, executive assistants are doing more than traditional assistant roles. They are often the sounding boards for executives, they share new ideas, help strategically plan processes, and provide valuable feedback. Often times, an executive assistant understands the company’s goals and culture more than anyone else on the team. So being able to think of ways for growth and building a community is valuable to not only you but your company as a whole.
Attention to Detail
We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. But when you have the support of someone that pays attention to the small things, those mistakes are often caught and eliminated before they ever happen. Your assistant should always be on the lookout for mistakes, whether it is a typo in an email to an important client or a mathematical error in a report. Peace-of-mind comes with knowing you have someone that has your back.
Technology is constantly advancing, and with that comes new ways to make your business more efficient. Not only should your assistant be a master at processing software such as Microsoft programs, they should also have a desire to learn and excel at other forms of technology. From new time management apps to cloud-based storage, your assistant will be using a variety of tools to keep the business running smoothly. They should also have the desire to learn new systems that could benefit the team and be willing to share them with you.
While we have only touched the surface of the most important skills an executive assistant should have, it is important to remember that your needs should always outweigh a basic set of skills. You need an assistant that will benefit you, and if they don’t have the skills you need to get the tasks done, it is of no benefit to anyone. If you are struggling to find a rock star assistant that can go above and beyond for you, LifeSquire Connect is here to support you. We take the stress out of recruiting and find you the assistant that will make the most impact on your business and your life. For more information about our support role recruiting services, click here.