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How to Hire an Executive Assistant: Tips and Strategies

hiring executive assistant
Victoria Golovtseva
3rd June, 2024 · 10 min read

The average salary of an executive in the US is slightly above $100,000.

Executives are hired to be proactive decision-makers, the ones who build agendas that push the company forward.

But just like any employee — they’re often buried in administrative work, turning them into reactive

workers who waste their time answering emails and scheduling meetings instead.

An executive assistant takes over this work, freeing up the executive’s time for strategic thinking.

Let’s look at what an executive assistant does, why you should hire them, and how to find the best fit for your organization and CEO.

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What is an executive assistant?

An executive assistant is a high-level administrative professional who supports top executives such as CEOs, presidents, or directors. Their main function is to assist the executives in effective time management, handle administrative duties, and keep the office running smoothly.

Often regarded as their bosses’ right hands, executive assistants play a big role in an organization’s success.

An executive assistant’s key responsibilities include:

Managing schedules and calendars

Executive assistants organize meetings and travel appointments and ensure the executive is prepped for each meeting they go into. They set priorities so that the executive’s time is well utilized.

For example, an executive assistant might schedule a board meeting, arrange travel for the executive to attend a conference, and manage the executive's daily calendar to ensure they have sufficient time for priority tasks

Communication and correspondence

Communication is an important, but time-consuming part of an executive’s day. Executive assistants answer phone calls and emails, draft letters, memos, and presentations on behalf of their supervisors.

Event planning

Executive assistants can organize corporate events, meetings, or conferences on behalf of their supervisor. For example, a director’s assistant can organize annual end-year celebrations at the workplace, coordinate a charitable activity funded by stakeholders, or plan company retreats. These activities require a lot of back-and-forth and take place frequently enough to be a distraction for a typical executive — which is what the assistant strives to solve for them.

Successful executive assistants should have excellent organizational skills, attention to detail, effective communication skills, and the ability to anticipate their executive’s needs.

Why hire an executive assistant?

Now that you understand what executive assistants do and the skills needed to excel in this position, the next thing is to consider why they should be hired.

Though some firms may shy away from including it in their payroll, you will gain a lot from having an accomplished executive assistant who is part of your team.

They save time and boost productivity for executives and senior managers

A skilled executive assistant can save an executive substantial time each week by managing schedules, making travel arrangements, screening calls and emails, and handling other administrative tasks.

This allows the executive to focus on higher-level responsibilities. The return on investment can be significant — an assistant earning $80,000 only needs to make a $1 million executive 8% more productive to justify the cost of being hired.

RecruitingCRM does something very similar for you — the recruiter. It takes the manual, grueling work off your plate, much like an executive assistant, so you can focus on strategic decision-making. Unlike an executive assistant, RecruitingCRM does not cost anything, other than a placement fee for any successful hires.

It can import and shortlist candidates from other platforms, like LinkedIn, and run precision searches for you so you can find the ideal candidate that much faster. No manual importing, or endless clunky searches that do not allow you to find the skills you are looking for.

They support managers at all levels, not just senior executives

Mid-level managers spend a lot of time on scheduling, expense reports, and administrative work that could be delegated to an executive assistant. Work should be handled by the lowest-cost employee who can do it well. Providing shared assistant resources can quickly boost productivity.

They aid in onboarding and serve as a "reverse mentor" to executives

Experienced assistants help new executives, especially those hired from the outside, learn to navigate the organizational culture. They guide the executive with the personality they are expected to adopt as well as cultural expectations and can serve as a sounding board during the transition period.

They represent executives when they can, upping overall productivity

The best executive assistants take on elements of the executive's workload, represent them in communications and some meetings, and are empowered to make decisions on their behalf. Executives can rely on them heavily, not just as a great assistant, but a crucial partner.

They improve the culture and employer brand

Executive assistants improve the face of the organization through emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. Here’s how they do this.

They smooth over issues with employees and customers, serve as a knowledgeable resource and point of contact, and generally provide a human face to the company. They can combine judgment, timing, and ability to read situations and people to make the executive and the company look good.

10 Skills to look for in an executive search assistant

These are 10 key skills you should consider when hiring an executive assistant.

  • Administrative competence: A good executive assistant is usually fluent in areas like calendars, appointment setting, travel planning, expense management, and document handling.
  • Communication: Because they serve as intermediaries for their bosses and workers, company customers, and external partners, they must possess excellent writing and speaking abilities.
  • Technologically capable: They should also be conversant with office technology systems like email, calendar software, presentation, and document preparation tools.
  • Time management and organization: The ability to prioritize tasks, manage multiple projects simultaneously, and maintain a high level of organization is crucial for success in this role.
  • Adaptability: An executive’s schedule is constantly changing due to changing priorities or operating conditions. An executive assistant’s role, therefore, is only meant for people who can think on their feet and solve problems as they come.
  • High emotional intelligence: Assistants need to read situations and respond appropriately to build strong relationships with colleagues and stakeholders.
  • Confidentiality: Executive assistants often work with highly sensitive information. The ability to guard this information and be discreet with it is a required skill.
  • Proactivity: Great assistants can look beyond their executive’s immediate needs so they can take care of situations before they snowball into bigger issues. Being proactive means an executive can anticipate their boss’ requirements without needing specific commands.
  • Detail-oriented: Executive assistants are masters of precision, which is paramount here. The smallest mistakes can slow down an executive’s day, or create a disconnect with stakeholders
  • Leadership: As they often supervise other administrative staff or manage projects, executive assistants should have the ability to lead and delegate effectively.

5 steps on how to hire an executive assistant

Here is a detailed breakdown of how to hire an executive assistant:

Define your needs

When searching for an executive assistant, you need to understand what you really need. Consider:

  • Full-time vs. part-time: Determine whether your workload necessitates a full-time assistant or a part-time one. Would a virtual assistant be enough, or do you need someone to come in to get a lay of the land? Maybe someone coming in for a few hours is going to be enough for your current workload, but consider that a full-time employee will have a lot more context than a freelancer when it comes to how you and your company function.
  • In-office vs. remote: Decide if the assistant needs to be physically present in the office or if remote work is possible.
  • Job responsibilities: These are some of the things that an employee should do as such managing the calendar, making travel plans, writing letters, and project management.
  • Specialized skills: Identify characteristics that are unique and especially relevant for your organization or industry; for instance, proficiency in certain software programs, language skills, and familiarity with certain business processes.

By clearly defining your needs upfront, you can conduct a search that is targeted and efficient.

Create a detailed job description

Develop an extensive job description that will act as a guide during your search. For example:

  • A clear job title that accurately reflects the role and level of responsibility.
  • An overview of the position including its primary purpose and how it fits into the bigger picture.
  • The details about the position, including lists of tasks and responsibilities (covering both daily duties and long-term goals), as well as bigger projects that may involve the assistant’s participation.
  • Detail the required educational background, prior experience, technical abilities, and interpersonal skills.
  • Information about your company culture and any unique benefits or perks you offer.

Conduct a thorough search

To get top applicants for an executive secretary post make sure you cast a wide net. You should utilize various platforms such as:

  • Job boards: This entails posting advertisements on career websites like LinkedIn,, and
  • Professional networks: Tap into your personal and professional connections for leads. Colleagues, former coworkers, or other contacts could have ideas on possible candidates.
  • Executive search firms: Consider partnering with a reputable administrative staffing company. They have large networks and can identify potential candidates who are not actively searching for new roles.
  • Social media: Advertise the job opening on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to connect with prospective candidates.

Remember that the best executive assistants often come through personal referrals, so don't hesitate to tap into your network and ask for recommendations.

Evaluate candidates carefully

Once you’ve received the applications and resumes, you need to begin evaluating the pool. This process should include:

  • Resume screening: Look through CVs/resumes & cover letters to shortlist those fulfill the basic requirements of the position and match role expectations.
  • Phone or video interviews: Start by holding initial conversations via phone or video calls to test communication skills and personality traits.
  • In-person interviews: Choose several top-tier applicants for face-to-face meetings with hiring managers and other significant stakeholders. These interviews should be used to dig deeper into their experiences and competencies while testing their ability to relate well with the chief executives they will be assigned to.
  • Skills assessments: To gauge the overall capability of prospective employees in terms of calendar management, travel bookings, or expense reports, think about adding practical assessments.
  • Reference checks: Conduct interviews with referees to get their perspectives on the candidate’s job history.

When evaluating candidates, look for individuals who embody your job specification’s key skills and attributes. That’s how you will find executive assistants who are likely to flourish within the unique culture of your organization.

Build a strong partnership

Recruiting an executive assistant is just the beginning, it takes time and effort to establish a solid working relationship that will maximize the benefits of this position. This includes:

  • Establishing clear expectations: Be specific about what you want from a candidate from day one. Include their responsibilities, goals, performance standards as well as mode of communication. Ensure your assistant knows their role and understands how it impacts organizational objectives.
  • Offering continuous feedback: Regularly give constructive feedback to help your assistant develop in their role. Identify milestones that you celebrate together and areas that need improvement too.
  • Promoting growth opportunities: Help them grow professionally through learning opportunities like attending conferences, taking courses, and being involved in cross-functional teams/projects.
  • Building open communication channels: Conduct regular check-ins so that open, honest conversations become part of the office culture. Let them know they can come to you with any queries, concerns, or suggestions.
  • Treating your assistant as a valued partner: Do not forget that your executive assistant hire is a vital team member. Respect them by taking heed of whatever may suggest while acknowledging every little contribution.

How much does an executive assistant cost?

In the USA, average hourly rates for executive assistants are $34 and the typical range is between $30 and $39 per hour. This means that this translates to an annual salary of about $71,050.

Let us look at our previous example where one executive earns a total compensation of $1M while his assistant receives $80,000. To make business sense out of this, the personal assistant needs to improve the productivity of the chief executive by at least 8%.

Good executive assistants give a considerable return on investment since they save executives much more than just time. They help them focus on strategic planning and other crucial issues that drive the business forward.

Foregoing an executive assistant may lead to some short-term savings, but the long-term effect on the productivity and efficiency of top executives cannot be underestimated.

Hire executive assistants faster with RecruitCRM

Looking to find the perfect executive assistant for your clients? With its comprehensive features, including client and job management, candidate sourcing, and collaboration tools, RecruitingCRM can simplify your search for top-tier executive assistant talent.

RecruitingCRM integrates with LinkedIn so you can easily import candidate profiles into one centralized database.

integrates with LinkedIn

The advanced search options ensure that you can identify executive assistants with the exact skills, experience, and attributes that your clients need.

advanced search

You can use our tool to create captivating proposals to reach out to candidates and companies alike. These are C-suite employees we’re talking about, so any communication you initiate has to be pristine and professional.


Manual check-ins and collaboration will slow you down, which is where our pipeline view comes in. It would give you authority over the whole hiring funnel from initial sourcing to last placement. With this feature, you can keep clients informed and engaged throughout the process until you find the perfect executive assistant.


RecruitingCRM can help you enhance your search for executive assistants, grow stronger customer relationships, and become trusted partners for top-notch talents.