You’ve been holding off for quite some time now. Hiring an executive assistant (EA) is just another addition to the payroll. “I can still handle it” is what you tell your partners and colleagues at work. But the reality is, you’re on the verge of chaos. Follow-up meetings aren’t happening because it wasn’t appropriately calendared. Urgent appointments with possible investors, vendors, and more importantly, clients are slipping through the cracks. There was one time you kept calling a potential client but couldn’t get through. You had to find out later that they had shifted to a 03 phone number in the UK, instead of the 01 or 02. They had moved on to another supplier.

This might have been a small mishap, but if compounded regularly, it’s going to impact the company negatively. You’re finally on the lookout for an executive assistant. How do you look for one? What sort of task do you need to relinquish so that you can focus on more strategic activities, like planning the launch of a new product?

Here are some key ideas to consider:

The Profile

If you think that because the job carries with it the title “assistant,” you imagine a lady in her late 30s, wearing glasses, and just short-handing away at dictations, then you belong in the 1950s.

Today, executive assistants are referred to as powerbrokers or gatekeepers of the CEOs and directors or even mid-level managers. They’re young, highly educated, enthusiastic, and very organized professionals, with off-the-charts soft skills like communication, problem-solving, leadership, and other social skills.

Executive Assistant:

Why You’re Hiring

You need help! It’s plain and simple. Organizational roles create efficiencies. Executive leadership should be busy with planning for new projects to implement or traveling to explore prospects or analyzing financial data. Precious time is taken away if the same administration still handles invites to meetings or booking a caterer. An executive assistant better handles these activities.

This means, however, that the EA must have a broader and more in-depth understanding of how the organization works, and how his or her boss thinks. The reason why communication skill is vital for the role is that EAs interface with everyone from internal stakeholders to vendors to clients.

The Job Description and Compensation

Depending on to whom the EA will be attached, the job description and the responsibilities vary, and so do the salary ranges. The mid-range salary is estimated at more than $53,000. Going up the ladder, the range could start at more than $63,000 to northwards of $200,000. Structure the job description along the following lines:

  1. Clerical responsibilities. They need to be top-notch in using office tools like word processing, worksheets, presentation decks, and calendar scheduling.
  2. Project management. They are likely to sit with you during essential project meetings. They must have an understanding of project management. If you’re not around, the EA must somehow be able to fill in for you.
  3. Gatekeeping. They need not be growling tigers at the gate, but they need to be firm but gentle when denying others access to you. They should nurture relationships because EAs will be the first one to interact on your behalf
  4. Other duties may be assigned. Don’t forget to add this catch-all phrase because as the company grows, everyone’s responsibilities will likely change, too, including the EA’s.

The interview should be an excellent way to screen your candidates. You can ask questions that will determine a candidate’s problem-solving abilities. This discussion covers the basics of what you need to know, but be resourceful and investigate other best practices.