Executives often look to hire executive assistants to provide business, and sometimes personal, support. They tend to look for an EA that is completely in tune with their needs and ways of working to ensure their life runs as smoothly as possibly - allowing the EA to focus on the logistics and administration, while the executive focuses on the needs of the business. However, with the need to be so in-sync with their EA, executives report that there can be many challenges to hiring the perfect fit. In this article, we explore why executives find it challenging to hire the right EA - with handy insights for the savvy EA.
It is vital when an executive hires a new executive assistant that they have the experience needed to succeed in the role. And, while there are some specific skills which can be taught on the job, many executives are looking for an EA that can hit the ground running from day one, providing seamless support from the off. Executives use interviews, competency-based questioning and reference checking to help ensure an EA has the experience required. And this is where an EA has the chance to really show an executive their expertise. Interviewees will want to dig deep to understand the content of your previous roles and whether your experience is relevant to the role.
An exceptional EA will be able to adapt their working style in line with the person they support - and this is what executives look for. As every executive will be unique, showcasing that you’ve worked for multiple people previously with different working styles will be a big plus.
The right personality match with the person or people the EA is supporting is essential to ensure a good working relationship - and this is not always easy to gauge. It’s important for executives to spend time introducing the relevant people to the prospective EA to make sure this will be the right fit across the board. To do this, sometimes a more informal interview or relaxed general chat is arranged, where there is more room for personalities to shine through. Exceptional EA’s will know how to strike a balance between being formal and professional and personable.
Executives also find team fit key to ensuring an EA is the right person for the business. As an EA, you act as a gatekeeper and must give off the right impression and represent the executive appropriately. To help ensure the team fit will be right, executives often recommend that candidates meet multiple people within the business as part of the interview process, to allow them to assess the culture and understand if they will fit in and be happy in that working environment. Another option is a trial day which will allow both parties to see each other in action and get a better feel for whether it is the right match.
Executives know that good EAs are always in demand and will move quickly when they are in the market, often being recommended through personal connections. One challenge to this is time as, once a recruitment process starts, it needs to move quickly to ensure that executives don’t lose their preferred candidates along the way. Often, executives will hire a specialist recruitment agency, such as Oriel Partners, to allow them to access untapped talent and enable them to meet the best possible EAs on the market, specifically targeted due to their experience and personality fit. Often agencies will have long-standing relationships with candidates, so even if an EA is not actively looking for a new role, they can be approached directly if it could be the right opportunity for them.
It is also important that the salary and package offered are competitive to ensure when an executive does find the perfect EA, they can secure them.
Auria Heanley is Co-founder & Director at Oriel Partners a PA and administrative recruitment consultancy based in Central London. Auria is passionate about helping PA & VA candidates to stand out from the crowd.