According to Divana Bisuelan, Director of Operations for Cyberbacker, a C-suite executive assistant works directly for an organization’s top executives, such as the CEO or CFO. “They are responsible for running the day-to-day operations of their bosses’ lives, and often have years of experience under their belt,” Bisuelan says. “They act as gatekeepers to their bosses’ time and schedules, helping them manage travel plans, meetings, and correspondence. Their assistance enables these leaders to focus on running their businesses smoothly.”
According to Salary.com, the average income for this role is $63,886. “Growing demand means competition is stiff,” says Bisuelan, “but you can still get your foot in the door by thoroughly understanding the role and demonstrating your skills.”
Typical responsibilities and expectations for a C-suite executive assistant
As an executive assistant, you’ll be supporting a company’s senior leader in a variety of daily tasks. In addition to managing the email inbox for an executive who receives hundreds (sometimes thousands) of messages every day, you’ll prepare high-level reports and presentations and act as a liaison between the executive and the company’s other employees.
“Your administrative and personal support tasks will include planning schedules and travel arrangements, answering emails and phone calls, communicating with other executives within the company, organizing meetings, planning events, managing social media accounts, editing documents, and keeping track of important deadlines and milestones,” Bisuelan notes.
Essential skills and qualifications for a C-suite executive assistant
The role of a C-suite executive assistant is to provide top-tier administrative support. To determine if you are qualified for this position, first ask yourself if you have experience working in an office setting with people who report directly or indirectly to you. If so, your skills will translate well into this new environment.
As Bisuelan explains, an executive assistant must have exceptional communication skills, both verbal and written. You will regularly write correspondence and communicate on behalf of your boss.
“As an executive assistant, you’ll also have access to sensitive information regarding company strategy and finances,” Bisuelan says. “This means you’ll need to handle this confidential information with discretion and be able to determine what can and cannot be shared.”
To be a candidate for this position, you need excellent interpersonal skills to feel comfortable working with entry-level staff, top executives, and board members. Organizational skills are also paramount for this role. As an executive assistant, you will arrange complex schedules and ensure your boss always has exactly what they need when they need it.
“Executive assistants also must have the ability to multitask,” Bisuelan remarks. “You’ll be juggling a lot of responsibilities, so you need to be able to prioritize tasks and handle multiple projects at once, as you’ll need the stamina to keep up in an extremely fast-paced work environment. You’ll be handling high volumes of work — and you’ll need to do it quickly.”
Finally, you will need to demonstrate technological proficiency and adaptability in managing digital tools and software. Research the tools common in your industry of choice, and look for the free online tutorials that will help you become familiar with them.
“No matter how many you master, you’ll need to be flexible and willing to learn new skills,” Bisuelan adds.
How to stand out as an applicant for a C-suite executive assistant position
As Bisuelan explains, you can prepare for the role of executive assistant with a bachelor’s degree in business administration or management, with an emphasis on organizational behavior. You’ll also want experience working as an administrative assistant before taking on this role.
“Next,” Bisuelan says, “rather than blasting identical resumes to 100 different job listings, stand out from the crowd by tailoring a resume and cover letter specifically for each role. Do your research on the company, then write a cover letter and resume that describes how you are the perfect fit for this role. If an employer has been reviewing dozens of applications, yours needs to be relevant and detailed enough for them to remember you by name when it comes time for an interview.”
Additionally, don’t underestimate the power of networking within the industry. Maintain a proactive presence through professional platforms like LinkedIn, and attend conferences to build your network in person. Relevant professional development courses are often offered through organizations like the American Society of Administrative Professionals or the International Association of Administrative Professionals.
“These classes are designed specifically for administrative professionals who want to advance their careers through training programs on topics such as leadership skills and project management techniques,” says Bisuelan. “Taking one or more will show potential employers how committed you are to continuing your education.”
How to interview for a C-suite executive assistant position
The best way to stand out during your interview is to demonstrate your soft skills and emotional intelligence.
“First, listen actively and ask questions,” says Bisuelan. “Strong listening is important in any job interview, but it’s especially crucial when interviewing to be an executive assistant. Asking questions demonstrates your curiosity and ability to clarify misunderstandings.”
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as those of others. In an interview situation, you want to demonstrate this skill by staying calm under pressure and exhibiting positive body language. Above all, be confident and enthusiastic. Be honest about what motivates, excites, and interests you about working at their company.
“The key is to deliver responses that show you did your research and can think on your feet,” Bisuelan explains. “You can’t prepare for every question, but make sure you’re ready to get the interview off to a good start.”
A common opening question is, “Tell me about yourself,” which gives you the opportunity to highlight your strengths and show how they align with the role. Explain your professional background and show your passion and enthusiasm for the field. Another standard opening question is, “Why do you think this position would be right for you?”
“To answer, explain what you appreciate about the company’s values, mission, and philosophy, then explain how these align perfectly with yours,” says Bisuelan.
C-suite executive assistants handle dynamic and demanding responsibilities without breaking a sweat. Though their role can feel overwhelming at times, their efforts contribute directly toward helping the entire company succeed.
“If this sounds like a rewarding role to you,” Bisuelan says, “then leverage your skills and experience to join the job pool for this uniquely dynamic position.”