Skip to main content

Become an Executive Assistant

Become an Executive Assistant

Become an Executive Assistant

From research to writing, Tahisha Williams developed the entire performance review for 100 employees in the technology division of NorVergence, a Newark, New Jersey-based telecommunications company. While this may sound like a human resources manager's task, Williams is the executive assistant to the chief technology officer, and she loves the level of responsibility her boss has given her.

"I thrive on being challenged, completing tasks, being the best at it -- not in a boastful way, but for my own self-esteem," Williams says.

If making the jump from an administrative assistant job to an executive assistant job appeals to you, start by taking the lead. Heed the following advice on what factors can make the difference between making a Cinderella ascent up the administrative ladder and getting left in the pumpkin patch.

Be Proactive

While strong computer skills may nail you an administrative assistant position, applicants for executive assistant jobs must show initiative, says Laura Smith, senior vice president of human resources and administration for Edelman Public Relations in Washington, DC.

"Don't just gather proposals for getting a new copier for the office," she says. "Instead, look at purchase versus lease, look for cost comparisons and [investigate] whether a new copier is necessary."

What's key is demonstrating that you can think strategically or proactively rather than merely react to others' requests. "Too often, I see resumes where people list their job duties and very little on what they actually accomplished," Smith says.

If your current role seems to lack opportunities for initiative, ask to be involved in -- or, better yet, take the lead on -- additional projects with your current employer, Smith says. Indicate the results of your ingenuity on your resume.

Show Reliability and Dedication

When assessing executive-level administrative applicants, Dan Campbell, CEO of Atlanta-based Hire Dynamics, looks for skills that would benefit CEOs, COOs and other C-level executives, such as evidence of honesty and reliability.

"C-level people want to hire people they can trust, so if you have a history of dealing with confidential information successfully, that's certainly an advantage," he says.

Be an Asset, Not Just an Assistant

Standards are more stringent for executive assistants than for administrative assistants, because execs can make a huge difference in a company's day-to-day operations, Campbell says. He hired his current executive assistant just three months ago and already regards her as an invaluable asset to his company.

"My personality goes in 20 different directions at once, and she's done a fantastic job getting me organized," he says. "Nobody knows better where I need to be; she organizes events, takes leads and makes sure the culture of the company is maintained."

If you treat your daily work as essential to your company, rather than merely as a job, you are on your way to becoming a successful executive admin.

Articles in This Feature:

Learn more about administrative careers.

Education programs to fit your profession