Careers advice

Why executive assistant jobs open up a world of opportunity

There’s a lot to be said for working as an executive assistant.

A job as an executive assistant opens heaps of doors, and presents plenty of opportunities to learn skills that are highly valued by employers in a wide variety of sectors.

But what makes this role so beneficial, what job duties will you be expected to perform and how do you become an executive assistant? If you’re considering an executive assistant job but aren’t quite sure if it’s the right move for you, you’re going to want to read this.

What does an executive assistant do?

We’re not going to lie, there’s a pretty big hint in the name. As an executive assistant, your job is to assist someone, usually a high profile member of the organisation, to do everything they need to.

Perhaps the best way to think about it is like an office administrator, but on an individualised scale. In the same way that an office administrator keeps the office ticking over, executive assistants do the same for their executive.

In terms of the day-to-day, key executive assistant job duties can include:

  • Managing schedules.
  • Arranging travel and accommodation.
  • Collating documents for meetings.
  • Organising important phone calls and in-person meetings.
  • Assisting with special projects.
  • Preparing reports.
  • Taking meeting minutes.

You'll develop a close working relationship with your executive, and learn a lot in the process!

What are the career benefits of executive assistant jobs?

1. Access to the upper echelons of business

As an executive assistant, you’ll spend the majority of your day around some of the most senior people in your organisation, and probably high profile representatives of other companies as well.

Even if you’re not receiving formal professional mentorship from your executive, you’ll be learning heaps just by watching how decisions are made, deals are struck and strategies are devised by people with years of experience. Trust us, there are plenty of professionals who’d love to have this type of access to key decision makers, and you’ll be getting paid all the while! As you’re likely to develop a close working relationship with your executive, you’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions as you go, meaning you’ll come out of the role with bundles of useful experience to take wherever you go next.

2. Industry knowledge gains

In addition to the exposure to high level business operations, C-suite executives, in theory, should be at the cutting edge of their industries. This means, because you’re likely to sit in on meetings to take notes or minutes, you’ll get a front row seat to discussions that will give you great insight into the future of the sector.

While, of course, you’ll never be able to discuss private matters you were privy to in C-suite meetings, the specialist knowledge you’ll gain will put you in a fantastic position to talk with confidence in future job interviews if you decide to stay in that industry.

You'll get access to important meetings.

3. Technical and soft skills development

You’ll also come out of an executive assistant role with a wide variety of both soft and technical skills that will serve you brilliantly in a wide variety of roles. Among the important soft skills you’ll gain are:

  • Communication: you’ll learn how to communicate effectively with senior professionals both verbally and non-verbally. This will give you a serious edge when it comes to effective professional networking.
  • Time management: through managing your executive’s schedule, you’ll quickly learn how to create an efficient timetable of business.
  • Critical thinking: to ensure your executive always has the information they need, you’ll have to be able to quickly digest facts and data and distill this down to the essentials.

When it comes to technical skills, you’ll become proficient in:

  • Strategy skills: creating and implementing successful strategies are integral parts of business
  • Software skills: from customer databases to G-suite software, you’ll develop specialist familiarity with a range of software packages.
  • Report writing: there’s a knack to writing an effective report, and this will be a key part of your role as an executive assistant.

How to become an executive assistant

While formal qualifications aren’t always required, it certainly helps to have a higher education qualification if you want to be an executive assistant. Courses in business administration are a good route to follow, but there are a wide variety of courses you could study that would put you in a good position to apply for an executive assistant role.

In addition to this, we’d highly recommend investing time in boosting your computer skills. In particular, being able to touch-type (i.e. being able to type quickly without having to look at what you’re doing) is a really useful skill to have, especially when you need to take notes in minutes where people definitely won’t slow down to ensure you’re keeping up with the conversation.

While we hope this goes without saying, it's also vital that your application (think cover letter and CV) are immaculate. For a role where attention to detail is everything, a cover letter or CV riddled with typos or grammatical errors isn’t going to get you very far.

With all this knowledge up your sleeve, the only thing to do now is hop onto Trade Me Jobs, and start looking for the perfect executive assistant role for you.