We researched over 100 random job postings for Executive Assistants. We then counted the number of times a verb (read: task) appeared in the job descriptions overall. According to over 100 online job descriptions for open Executive Assistant positions, here are the top tasks Executives expect an EA to perform.
Support (155 times)—this one is a given. Anyone seeking an executive assistant is in search of exceptional support capabilities.
Coordinate (106)—Schedules, travel arrangements, and meetings are just some of the many things administrative assistants and other support professionals are required to do as part of their daily functions.
Maintain (93)—an exceptional admin understands how their executives are used to having things. Admins may facilitate and streamline procedures, but those processes should happen in the background. Maintenance of a calm, consistent and unchanging office is key.
Prepare (87)—this more accurately means, “in advance”; note the prefix, “pre.” Although word “anticipate” frequented our job descriptions a total of 17 times, we think it’s safe to assume its interchangeability with the word prepare. This means filling in the gaps for information and presenting your executive with a complete picture in preparation of their next move.
Schedule (77)—possibly the biggest tactical and most malleable piece of being an administrative professional, schedule is critical to the success of those you support. Ensuring they are booked to be at only one place at a time, that they have enough time to get from one meeting to another, and that they have enough time in their day to eat lunch are just a few of the complexities that come with scheduling. After all, time is money.
Manage (68)—if they could do it themselves, they would. Executives want to execute. They don’t want to be bothered with the details of how and why, they just want to do. That’s why the executive assistant/chief executive relationship is considered to be a valued partnership; the EA manages the back-end of operations while the executive is on the front lines.
Assist (38)—this word is synonymous with “help.” No task is too big or too small for the exceptional admin. A superstar admin understands that creating expense reports and going on coffee runs are two equally important tasks that enable the executive’s success.
Prioritize (33)—as an administrative assistant, your job is to cancel out the noise, remove the fluff, and only present what is truly important at any given moment. Know what needs to be presented now and what can wait until later. “Prioritize” also implies knowing when to approach the person or team you support with those important tasks.
Research (32)—How well can you uncover information? Research isn’t just uncovering what market initiatives [Competing Firm] is participating in, or what type of food [Potential Investor] prefers so that your exec can really impress. Research also applies to your ability to figure out the “how to” independently. How do you send a zip file? How do you remove a coffee stain from chiffon? You don’t need to know all of the answers, but you do need to understand how to get them.
Create (30)—the very definition of the word is, according to Google, “to bring (something) into existence,” or “to cause (something) to happen as a result of one’s own actions.” Creation is about execution and results. Moreover, it’s about independent thought and processes that effect a result. As an executive assistant, your job is much more than just phone, file, fax; as a partner to the executive you support, you are their sounding board and the executor of their ideas.
Thumbnail image attribution: By Carl T. Thorner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, Five Congressional Secretaries in Overalls