What is an executive assistant?

Executive assistants are similar to administrative assistants or secretaries in that they all support someone else’s work by handling or supervising office duties. 

As an executive assistant, they manage calendars, organize meetings, welcome visitors, accept phone calls, take messages and often take care of travel arrangements for senior-level executives.

How to become an executive assistant?

To become an executive assistant, You could take a college qualification to help you get a job.

Courses include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Business Support
  • Level 3 Diploma in Business Administration

You could find a temporary job to get administration experience. You could then apply for permanent roles.

If you’re already working as an administrator or secretary, you could become an executive assistant through company training and promotion.

To get work, you’ll usually need GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths, A levels, or equivalent qualifications.

Executive assistant duties

Executive assistant duties are diverse and depend on the employer and specialty, but some responsibilities are common to most:

  • Providing administrative assistance, such as writing and editing emails, drafting memos and preparing communications on the executive’s behalf
  • Answering phones and routing calls to the correct person or taking messages
  • Welcoming visitors and identifying the purpose of their visit before directing them to the appropriate department
  • Handling correspondence directed to managers
  • Maintaining the current filing and database system, and looking for ways to improve current systems
  • Researching and conducting data to prepare documents for review and presentation by boards of directors, committees, and executives
  • Reading and analyzing incoming memos, submissions, and distributing them as needed

Executive assistant skills

To be an effective executive assistant, you’ll need certain skills and competencies. The following are often cited in job vacancies:

  • Attention to detail
  • Great verbal and written communication skills
  • Professional discretion
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Proactive approach to problem-solving with strong decision-making skills
  • Ability to organize a daily workload by priorities

How to find an executive assistant job

These jobs are advertised online, in local newspapers and at your local jobcentre. To find all the executive assistant jobs near you, you need to:

  • Search for executive assistant jobs on popular job websites such as; Indeed, Total Jobs and CV Library
  • Use the DWP’s Find A Job Service
  • Check local newspapers and local Facebook groups, especially groups dedicated to local jobs

Executive Assistant Job Titles

When you search for executive assistant jobs online, be aware that the jobs might be advertised using a different job title. Popular job titles for executive assistant jobs include;

  • Admin assistant
  • Office assistant
  • Secretary
  • Executive secretary
  • Personal assistant

What does an executive assistant do?

The job of an executive assistant varies depending on the job role and the company you’re working for. Check the duties and responsibilities of executive assistant job advertisements to find jobs that best suit your skills and experience. 

The day-to-day tasks of an executive assistant include;

  • Screen telephone calls and handle enquiries
  • Organise your manager’s diary and make appointments
  • Deal with letters and emails
  • Arrange meetings
  • Organise and maintain office systems
  • Take notes at meetings
  • Make travel arrangements
  • Look after visitors