Busy executives and hiring managers often use boilerplate job descriptions when hiring an executive assistant (EA). For example, they will simply:
- Find an EA job description template online
- Add in a brief paragraph about their company
- Make a few tweaks to the qualifications or responsibilities
- Publish their job posting to whichever hiring platform they’re using (e.g. LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.)
In their defense, creating a customized job description (JD) from scratch takes a lot of time and effort that many executives and hiring managers don’t have. So it’s understandable that they’d rely on generic templates.
However, there’s a huge problem with this rushed process: Generic job descriptions fail to capture the interest and attention of the best executive assistant candidates.
The most qualified and talented candidates are looking for executive assistant jobs that are unique, dynamic, offer room for growth, and are at companies doing interesting or inspiring things. When they see generic job descriptions, they skip them and move on. And, as a result, companies that use boilerplate language in their job descriptions end up missing out on the best assistants.
So how can you attract top talent with your executive assistant job description? That’s what we’re going to discuss in this article.
Below, we cover:
- The key sections to include in your EA job description
- A free template with prompts and advice on how to create a customized JD that attracts top talent
- Two additional things that we’ve learned are essential to making a great hire
Note: Our unique hiring methodology enables us to find world-class executive assistants for our clients. We hire roughly 1 out of every 1,000 candidates. If you’ve been wanting an assistant but haven’t had the time to hire one, click here to get started. You can try an assistant for a month or two and see how you like it. For testimonials from our clients, check out our homepage.
Key Sections to Include in Your Executive Assistant Job Description
Most EA job descriptions include a series of key sections. For example:
- An introductory paragraph about the company
- A section listing the executive assistant responsibilities the applicant will be expected to perform
- A section listing desired assistant skills and qualifications
Sometimes there are additional sections discussing salary or education and experience requirements. The sections and structure we use and recommend have some overlap with this traditional format but also contain some key differences.
Here we’ll look at the sections we include in our own EA job descriptions. For each section, we’ll discuss the rationale behind it, mistakes companies make, and advice for getting it right.
Providing company background information is one of the common sections you’ll see in job descriptions. Most of the time when candidates apply to EA jobs, they’ve never heard of the companies they’re applying to. So introducing them to what your company does and what it stands for is important for catching their interest and providing them with context about who they’d be working for.
Mistakes to Avoid
The key mistake we see companies make with their company background info is that they don’t provide enough explanation about what they do and why it’s interesting (i.e. why candidates should care or be excited to work for them). They assume that candidates will easily see what makes their company awesome, so they’re brief in their explanation. They might be vague, or short and pithy, and they don’t clearly convey to candidates why they’d be a good company to work for.
Advice to Get It Right
When writing your company background section, keep in mind that most candidates have never heard of your company and have no understanding of or investment in what you do. You need to explain to them in a compelling way why your company matters, and why it would be a great place for them to come work.
If your company has an inspiring mission or goal, state it. Describe your company culture in a way that would appeal to the type of candidate you want to attract. And remember, be detailed and specific. This is what will capture the attention of talented candidates.
Detailed Description of the Role
Including a section that describes your executive assistant role is perhaps the most obvious and essential part of your job description. This section paints the picture of what the job will look like and require on a day to day basis. And it’s key for candidates to understand if it’s a job that they want to do, as well as whether or not they would be a good fit for the role.
Mistakes to Avoid
A key mistake that companies make when describing their position is using a dry list of generic assistant duties (super common for those who copy and paste templates like we described above). These basic task lists lack the detail and uniqueness that it takes to excite the best candidates.
In addition, companies often don’t expand on details beyond day to day responsibilities, missing the opportunity to provide further information about the role, such as who they’ll be working closely with, what the work environment is like, etc. These additional details help paint a clearer picture for candidates, and are useful for helping your job description stand out from the rest.
Advice to Get It Right
When describing your EA role, once again, you should be detailed and specific. Avoid listing basic tasks, and focus on sharing the higher level responsibilities that the EA will be in charge of.
For example, rather than listing “reply to emails on behalf of the executive,” you might frame the responsibility as, “Manage internal and external communication alongside and on behalf of the executive with key stakeholders including executive team members, the board of directors, investors, clients, etc.”.
Can you see the difference? By providing more specificity and emphasizing these higher level responsibilities, you’ll be more likely to attract smart, ambitious candidates who are looking for this level of responsibility in their job.
In addition, it’s also useful to go beyond responsibilities and include information about other key parts of the job. For example:
- Who they’ll work with: Explain who the EA will be working closely with, or how they can expect to work with the executive (e.g. primarily Slack communication? Lots of Zoom or phone calls?).
- Opportunity for growth: Ambitious job seekers want to know about opportunities for growth within the company. It’s important to think about and explain what a candidate’s trajectory could look like if they choose to come work for you. Could the role evolve into a Chief of Staff position? Could it be a great starting point to jump into another role within the company? If so, discussing this will also help attract top talent.
- What success will look like: Many candidates for our remote executive assistant service ask us about specific goals and what success would look like in the role. This is another thing worth thinking about and including in your role description section.
Desired Abilities and Traits
Including a section on desired abilities and traits is a point of difference in the way we approach EA job descriptions (and hiring more broadly). What we’ve learned over the past 4 years building our executive assistant service is that there is a set of generalist abilities and traits that predict success in an assistant role. In other words, candidates with these qualities make the absolute best assistants.
Specifically, we’re referring to the following:
- Problem-Solving Ability: How smart are they? Can they figure things out in new and complex situations?
- Key Character and Behavioral Traits: Are they highly motivated, resilient, detail-oriented, etc.? Do they have great time management skills, organizational skills, interpersonal skills, etc.?
- Communication Ability: How well do they write and communicate? How are their verbal communication skills? Can they communicate on your behalf or alongside you with key stakeholders (executive team members, board members, investors, etc.)?
- Tech-Savviness: How comfortable are they with learning new technologies and software? How quickly can they pick up and learn the programs that modern companies use to run their businesses? (e.g. Notion, Asana, Slack, Superhuman, Airtable, Excel, Zoom, etc.)
Explicitly stating in your JD that candidates should possess these abilities and traits serves a few useful functions.
First, it acts as a filtering mechanism, helping candidates self-select whether or not they’ll be a good fit for the role. Second, it establishes expectations for the key qualities you’re expecting them to have. And third, it sets the scene for the specific qualities that you will (read: should) evaluate them on throughout the rest of the hiring process.
Mistakes to Avoid
The key mistake companies make with this section is they rarely include it. Instead, companies tend to focus on “skills” and “qualifications.” For example, they might list a desired skill of competency working within the Microsoft Office suite (Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). Or, they might list qualifications such as having a bachelor’s degree or past years of experience in an administrative assistant role.
In our experience, these skills and qualifications are not actually predictive of candidates having success in the role. We’ve found much more success by focusing on the key generalist abilities and traits we described above.
Advice to Get It Right
Be sure to include a section that states the key abilities and traits that make the best EAs: problem solving ability, communication skills, tech-savviness, and the character traits that are particularly important to you.
Role Logistics (Often Overlooked)
Including a section on practical logistics of the role—things like the timezone your EA will be working in, any special equipment they may need, or the software programs they’ll use—is often overlooked. But this is actually an important section to include.
For example, the EA role necessitates that the assistant and the executive are able to sync their schedules. Including the time zone you work in can help filter out candidates who may be unable to work during your executive’s hours. It also prevents candidates getting deep into the hiring process, only to find out that the time zone is an issue.
Practical logistics are a way of further informing candidates about what the role will look like, helping them to ensure it’s a good fit before applying. And they also help to filter candidates before you put time and effort into thoroughly evaluating them.
Mistakes to Avoid
The key mistake with role logistics is that companies rarely include a section for this.
Advice to Get It Right
Include a section on role logistics. Consider the key logistical things that are important to you, and that you think candidates should know before applying. Then provide adequate detail on each.
Final Big Picture Details
Rather than conclude your job description with information on the dry, practical logistics of the job, it’s nice to provide a final section that zooms out, ties everything together, and inspires great candidates to apply.
Mistakes to Avoid
The key mistake with final big picture details is that companies rarely include a section for this.
Advice to Get It Right
In your concluding section, try harkening back to your company’s mission and goals, opportunities for growth, and cultural or value-based qualities that you think will appeal to the person you want to hire. If you’re an equal opportunity employer, have any causes you support as an organization, or have any other things of this nature to share, this is a place to mention it.
A Free Template for Creating Your Own Executive Assistant Job Description
Rather than create a template with boilerplate, copy-and-paste content for your executive assistant job description—i.e. the same generic bullet points that every other EA job description out there says—we’ve created one that will help you write a customized JD that attracts top talent.
It’s a simple Google Doc template with prompts and advice to create each of the sections we’ve discussed throughout this article.
Click here to make a copy of it and begin drafting your own JD.
While we hope you’ll make use of our template, the job description is just the first step in a long series of steps to evaluate candidates and decide on who to hire. As we’ve learned, finding a truly talented executive assistant takes a lot more than a great job posting.
So before we wrap up, let’s quickly cover the 2 key things we’ve learned are essential to making a great hire.
2 Additional Hiring Considerations to Find Top Talent
A lot of executives and companies experience inconsistent results when hiring executive assistants and other administrative support. Sometimes the people they hire work out well, but very often they don’t.
There are many reasons for this which we’ve written about previously. Our founding story is a great article to learn about the pitfalls that lead most companies (and recruiters) to make poor decisions when hiring EAs.
But there are 2 key things we’ve learned that can help you find a great EA:
#1. Focus Your Evaluation on the 4 Key Qualities
As we discussed earlier, focus your hiring process on evaluating candidates based on the qualities that predict success in an EA role: problem solving ability, communication ability, key character traits, and tech-savviness.
If you can identify the individuals in your candidate pool who are in the highest percentile in each of these areas, you’ll significantly improve your chances of making a great hire—someone who can be truly transformative for your business.
#2. Finding a Great Executive Assistant Takes More Than Resume Review & Interviews
While most companies’ hiring processes are confined to resume review and interviews, these tools alone are not rigorous enough to thoroughly evaluate complex abilities and traits like problem solving ability or how detail-oriented someone is.
If you want to ensure you make a great hire, it’s important to go beyond this traditional approach.
For example, to assess these types of qualities more thoroughly when hiring assistants for our service, each candidate goes through an individually tailored series of the following on their path to being hired:
- Quantitative assessments: Tests that allow us to evaluate candidates accurately on key generalist abilities.
- Structured interviews: A strategic interview process to cross-compare candidates on the qualities and abilities that matter.
- Work sample projects: Mock projects to see the quality of their work, based on the types of tasks they’re likely to do in a virtual EA role.
- Communication exercises: Exercises to evaluate candidates on key communication skills such as email etiquette.
- Reference and background checks: A structured approach to interviewing candidates’ references.
Our additional steps of assessments, work sample projects, and exercises allow us to see candidates’ work before they’re ever hired. That way, we’re sure they can effectively manage the types of responsibilities they’ll be expected to perform when on the job (as we’ve discussed at length in this article).
As a result of our more rigorous hiring methodology, our EAs are capable of managing a wider range of responsibilities than what most EAs offer.
For example, our assistants currently perform some combination of the following for our clients:
- Communications: Act as the executive’s main point of contact, communicating on their behalf and alongside them with key stakeholders. Carefully handle sensitive information. Sit in on phone calls, draft company memos, etc.
- Scheduling and calendar management: Manage an executive’s calendar, schedule meetings and appointments, resolve scheduling issues, balance personal appointments with work meetings.
- Project management: Manage the CEO’s to-dos, ensure they stay up to date and on track with their key projects.
- Business operations: Help create, organize, and improve on internal business processes and standard operating procedures. Assist with bookkeeping, data entry, filing expense reports, and other relevant administrative tasks.
- Marketing and social media management: Create and schedule social media posts on top platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, monitor engagement metrics, respond to comments, help grow an overall online presence.
- People operations: Manage employee onboarding, assist in the employee recruitment process (e.g. reviewing resumes and cover letters for certain criteria), manage payroll, etc.
- Strategic planning: Work with the company leaders to define and come up with plans for new products, initiatives, and services. Project manage some or all of these new company programs.
- Client services: Handle important interactions with clients. Provide ideas and feedback about how to improve systems and processes.
- Special projects: Manage a wide variety of unique projects depending on what your executive needs. For example, our EAs have worked on things like web design, video editing, designing Microsoft Office PowerPoint presentations, event planning, workflow design, building or compiling spreadsheet data sets, and more.
- Personal assistant tasks: Help make online orders, reservations, travel arrangements and itineraries, and other accommodations for executives’ personal lives.
Want to Shortcut the Hiring Process? Try Our Remote Executive Assistant Service
We serve senior executives and entrepreneurs at fast-growing startups across the U.S.—in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Austin, Miami, and New York—and internationally. We also help hiring managers and human resource departments staff EAs for senior management.
Here’s how to get started with us:
- Step 1: Complete our form to let us know your needs.
- Step 2: If you’re a good fit, we’ll set up a call to discuss our service with you.
- Step 3: Our team will hand pick an assistant who we think will be a great fit for you based on your needs.
- Step 4: Our talent team will guide you through the onboarding process over 2-3 weeks.
- Step 5: For a flat monthly rate, you get a world-class assistant that equates to a full-time employee (40 hours of remote work per week, with no long-term commitment needed).
If you’re ready to try a remote executive assistant that can be truly transformative for your business, click here to get started. For testimonials from our clients, check out our homepage.