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Most Desired Qualities in an Executive Assistant


We researched over 100 random job postings for Executive Assistants.  We then counted the number of times a term appeared in the job descriptions overall.  According to over 100 online job descriptions for open Executive Assistant positions, here are the top qualities Executives seek when considering their support staff.

Here are some of the highlights

Confidential (57)—in many cases, especially as an executive assistant, you’re dealing with information that is personal to the person you support: family matters, financial statements, confidential emails.  The ability to handle these items with discretion, a characteristic so lost in today’s age of social media, is a highly-coveted quality.

Years’ Experience (55)—administration is no easy task.  It requires an individual who has some experience in the real world.  The executive assistant role in particular is not entry-level.  To further specifics, an average of 5 years’ experience was most preferred according to the job descriptions.

Degree (46)—there is a lot of controversy surrounding whether the administrative support role really requires a college degree.  In a previous post, we addressed this exact fact, and you can read it here.  The numbers have spoken, and the word degree is mentioned in almost half of all job descriptions.

Independent (31)—your role as an assistant is to make the exec’s life easier; they shouldn’t have to hold your hand through it all. The ability to work, think, and react independently is beneficial because it saves the executive, team and organization you support precious time they can devote to other matters.

Attention to detail (29)—in our professional opinion, attention to detail is a “given” in the world of administration.  Still, it hit about a third of the job descriptions we researched.  Proving that you do, in fact, have impeccable attention to detail could still be worth quite a bit from an organization’s point of view.

Flexible (25)—administration is not a 9-5 job anymore.  Executives and their teams work around the clock to close deals, bring in revenue, and build lasting business relationships.  It’s fair to expect their support staff to be equally as hard-working and accessible; after all, the Executive Assistant is a business partner.

Analytical (23)—the ability to process information and make intelligent inferences based on that information is critical to any role in any business in any industry.  Success is more than just absorbing and regurgitating facts.  What you think about the information is everything.

Effective (23)—yes, you can write a proper business letter, but does the recipient understand, without a doubt, the message you are conveying?  That’s effective communication.  Yes, the new procedure you’ve implemented cuts the number of steps to get from A to B from 5 to 3, but did the yielded results suffer in terms of quality, remained the same, or improved?  “Effective” refers to the end result, not necessarily the ability.

Multitask (20)—this is not a question of whether you can pat your head and rub your stomach simultaneously.  Business is constantly changing, some days at a faster pace than others.  Multitasking measures your ability to keep up with fast-paced environments and maintain a level of accuracy in your work, even under pressure.


Thumbnail image attribution: Record group: Collection JC-WHSP: Carter White House Photographs Collection, 01/20/1977 – 01/22/1981 (ARC identifier: 1120) Series: Carter White House Photographs: Presidential, compiled 01/20/1977 – 01/22/1981 (ARC identifier: 173341) File unit: Mrs. Carter’s Office Appointments, 03/17/1977 – 03/17/1977 (ARC identifier: 174075) NAIL Control Number: NLC-WHSP-C-00690-14A; Rosalynn Carter with her personal assistant, Madeline McBean

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