Six ways executive assistants can stand out from the pack

Six ways executive assistants can stand out from the pack

Being an executive assistant is an arduous, and often thankless job. It’s easy to overlook how important executive assistants are in nearly every major industry. They’re the cogs that turn the gears, and make sure everything is running smoothly. Being a good executive assistant requires patience, flexibility, tremendous communication skills, and an old fashioned, hard work ethic. However, there are a few things that newly hired assistants can do to help themselves stand out from the rest.

  1. Learn everybody’s name and something about them

    Executive assistants often find themselves as the first point of contact for everyone who works with their boss. In many cases, clients communicate more regularly with the executive assistant rather than the boss themselves. That’s why it’s vital to know whom you’re talking to. Yes, put in that extra effort to learn the names, faces, voices, and a little something about each person who does regular business with your boss. That type of personalized attention always gets noticed. It makes your boss look good, and in turn, reflects positively on you. If done well, your conversations will come off as natural and friendly – something any 9-to-5er will appreciate during the monotonous workday.

  2. Network with other executive assistants

    Most executive assistant jobs require you to work hand-in-hand with other assistants. And after just a short amount of time together, the executive assistants at any given office tend to become a tribe of their own. They have everyone’s back, and push each other to be better at their job. Make sure you take the time to bond with the other executive assistants. They can be your lifeline when a task is way over your head, and a listening ear for new ideas you may have for the company. Not to mention the long-term benefits it provides when that executive assistant friend of yours from a few years back is running her own successful start up, and calls you with a job offer.

    Even if you work in a small office, networking with executive assistants at other companies you do frequent business with is highly encouraged. Your company may be small, but the industry you work in likely isn’t. Make plans to meet up after work for a bite to eat, and you’ll be surprised by the similar problems you both face on a daily basis.

  3. Don’t try too hard

    Don’t fall into the trap of being the “boss’s pet.” The best executive assistants are the ones who make their job look easy and natural. Running around like a frenzied animal all-day and working yourself to exhaustion is unsustainable, unhealthy, and not effective when trying to be noticed. The best thing you can do to gain appreciation for your work is to simply be yourself. Chances are, people will come to like the authentic you. And whether you’re angling for a big promotion or a raise, your boss will be more inclined to grant it if they like you as a person, not as a person who works for them.

  4. Own your mistakes

    As an executive assistant you’re bound to screw up on scheduling that big meeting, or forget to order your boss’s favorite lunch. Don’t try to cover your tracks when this happens. Own up to it, face the punishment, and show improvement. Your boss wants to help you grow – which is why dishonesty can prove more costly than the initial mistake. A major factor in the boss-executive assistant relationship is trust.

    By trying to hide a mistake, you violate that trust, which is often much more harmful than whatever the initial mistake was. Understand that you’re human – you make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over it, and use it as a springboard for improvement. Showing progress over time is something your boss will notice, and take personal pride in as well.

  5. Be your boss

    Being a good executive assistant means knowing who your boss is not just professionally, but personally. Depending on the industry, you could be spending more time with your boss than with your own family. That means you’re bound to get to know each other well. If you think like they do, you can anticipate your boss’s needs and prevent mistakes from happening.

    Be observant. You will start to notice that your boss has a particular way they like to organize, communicate, and work. Once you get a feel for how they operate, start to tailor yourself to mimic their styles. By turning your work-self into a version of your boss, you will seem like a mind reader. Appointments will be set, emails will be sent, and reservations at that popular new lunch spot will be made before your boss even needs to ask you.

  6. Don’t be too good

    In most cases, working as an executive assistant for one single boss can quickly grow tiresome. It’s not the worst thing if you screw up a couple minor things, so when that time rolls around for the big promotion or department switch, your boss will like you enough to help you find new work, but not so much that they want you to be their assistant forever. Switching roles as an assistant is important because it can help prevent burnout, and allows you to be your own person. Working a career that requires serving the needs of others means it’s important to take some time for yourself, even if it means leaving your boss to fend for themselves for a little while.

The best executive assistants understand people at an individual level. They’re good at anticipating needs, and are persistent enough to make sure that any given task gets done efficiently. Keeping these tips in mind while working as an assistant can help keep you on the right path in your occupation. Whether you want to be a career executive assistant, or have an assistant of your own one day, using this experience to learn and grow will pay off tremendously in the future, regardless of what your individual plans are.