Today's executive assistant is much more than a generic secretary. You may find yourself managing personnel, creating and managing complex itineraries and events, and maintaining schedules and confidential financial information. The difference between an administrative assistant and an executive assistant is all in how you perform your job. Try these tips and techniques used by thousands of successful executive assistants.
No skill is more important to the executive assistant than time management. Executive assistants must be excellent at multitasking and shifting gears at a moment's notice, as there is no "typical" workday. Every day, you must determine what the most important projects are, and spend time wisely. Even your best-laid plans can be derailed for an emergency that pops up in the middle of the day and must be addressed. Communication is key here; if a brand-new project pushes back the completion of another equally important project, make sure that all involved parties are aware of this so that new plans can be made to get everything done in a timely manner.
It may be difficult to stay organized when you have different projects in progress for multiple people, which is often the case for an executive assistant. The first thing you should do is create separate file folders for each person you support, both hard and digital forms. This helps you stay on top of the status of each assignment and quickly find important documents. Make it a point to keep your executives informed about how each project is coming along; don't make them have to bother you for details. Lastly, if you feel you may not be able to meet a specific deadline, communicate this to the proper person well ahead of time. That person will appreciate the heads-up and may be able to work out a game plan with you instead of being surprised at the last minute.
The executive administrative assistant serves as the primary liaison between employees and high-level executives, as well as the primary point of contact for clients, vendors, visitors and customers. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are absolutely essential in this role, as the executive assistant spends much of a workday fielding messages, composing emails and documents, making and returning phone calls, and providing assistance to those who need information.
"There are amazing possibilities in this profession," says Stacy Leitner, executive assistant to the city manager of Rancho Cordova, California. Executive assistants wear a variety of hats and must always be polished, professional, highly organized and flexible in order to successfully support high-level executives. Those who strive to continually learn new skills and improve their working habits remain indispensable to their companies and the executives they support.
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