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How to Find an Assistant Who Can Handle Executive Level Work

Executive assistants have been proven to boost the productivity and efficiency of the executives they support. Executive leadership is able to focus on creating value and driving the success of the organization as executive assistants help reduce the time spent on administrative tasks, such as scheduling meetings, managing travel arrangements, answering phone calls, responding to emails and more.

Selecting the right executive assistant can be challenging, especially now with the increasing demand for high-quality talent and as more move to working remotely (Reuters expects the number of permanent remote workers to double in 2021 to 34%). As a result, it will be important for companies to select candidates who have both the desired skill sets and the right type of work experience from providing either in-person or remote support, and in some cases, both. 

Learn more about how to hire an executive assistant below.  

What are the Best Traits of an Executive Assistant?

When looking for an executive assistant, good help may be hard to find, but what exactly does good help look like? With many traits and benefits to consider, some companies are finding there’s more than one right answer. 

NanoGlobals reported the ongoing shift in 2021 from in-house staff to remote or virtual assistants, with significant increases in hiring and workloads for virtual assistants. Virtual executive assistants can offer flexibility with remote support for multiple locations. Shifting headcount from payroll to non-payroll resources can lower a company’s overhead costs. Supporting a higher ratio of executives per assistant can increase utilization. Remote support models can also be tailored for different levels of support based on the complexity and volume of support requests. 

Despite the latest trends for remote support, demand for a traditional in-person executive assistant still exists due to certain advantages. A local, in-person executive assistant with a low executive ratio for senior leaders is the highest level of support available. Dedicated in-house assistants are able to greet office visitors, coordinate events, set up meeting rooms, handle catering and deliveries, and many other functions that require a physical presence in the office. Companies who value the traditional model of in-person executive support must also balance the cost/benefit of higher service levels with the associated cost. 

Whether an assistant is working in the office or working remotely, experience definitely matters. Most senior leaders expect an executive assistant to be experienced, professional, a good communicator, organized, responsive, thorough, and possess good judgment. Experienced executive assistants typically have an understanding of executive needs that help them anticipate support requirements, build rapport and trust, and handle certain tasks with limited direction. 

Some companies also value a mix of entry-level executive assistants. In addition to cost savings, less experienced assistants can be more tech-savvy, hungry, driven, adaptable, and potentially suited for career progression into other roles. 

There are many traits and benefits to consider for executive support, and getting the best return on investment depends on finding the assistants and the support model that are the best fit. 

Taking the Traditional Hiring Route

As with other in-house roles, recruiting for executive assistants has many common challenges: 

  • Attracting the right applicants in a wide talent pool 
  • Filtering and reviewing the right resumes
  • Engaging with candidates 
  • Building a strong employer brand to attract quality candidates 
  • Recruiting fairly and objectively for an inclusive workplace 
  • Losing applicants to competition 
  • Hiring delays 
  • Recruiting efficiently with effective internal communications 
  • Avoiding bad hires

The process can be long with varying degrees of success. Some tips to improve the recruiting process include advertising, encouraging employee referrals, providing better job descriptions, leveraging collaborative tools, and really thinking about the desired skills and attributes of the ideal executive assistant. 

Partnering with an Assistant Firm  

Because extended hiring processes can drain company time and resources, another option could be to engage an agency that provides remote executive assistant services. Assistant firms, like Cayuse, have a talented team of long-tenured employees who have become trusted executive assistants, earning high client satisfaction year after year. Unlike contractors from other web brokers, tenured employees have a history of performance management and ongoing professional development. Other benefits with assistant firms include tailored models for low-touch and high-touch support requirements, monitored service levels that can scale easily and on-demand, and a matching process with the executive assistants that best fit your needs.   

If working with an assistant firm is right for you, it's important to choose firms that perform extensive background checks and provide comprehensive training. Hiring executive assistants through a trusted assistant agency ensures that you connect with reliable and reputable assistants. That isn’t a guarantee when hiring assistants on your own or through online brokers.  

Finding the Right Assistant  

Many executives are pleased to see the productivity boost in their companies after hiring an executive assistant, whether in person or virtual. Executive assistants can handle numerous mundane tasks that take up substantial amounts of time and energy.  

It takes the right executive assistant to produce great results. You will need someone with the desired skill set who also fits your company's culture. It can be challenging to find an assistant that suits your needs. Firms like Cayuse can take the guesswork out of the hiring process, providing you with an experienced assistant ready to help your organization succeed.

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