Six Tips For Finding And Hiring An Executive Assistant.

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Six Tips For Finding And Hiring An Executive Assistant

If you have reached a point where you simply don’t have enough hours each week to get everything done, hiring an executive assistant (EA) may be a great solution to your problem. However, how do you go about finding one?

I recently had to navigate that process myself, so I’m offering the following tips based on my own experience:

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1. Think about your requirements.

In order to determine the qualifications that I wanted in an EA, I researched the topic online. I learned that most EAs fall into one of three levels.

• A Level 1 EA has very basic responsibilities, such as screening calls, printing, filing and running errands.

• A Level 2 EA can not only manage those tasks, but also handle greater responsibilities, such as assisting with projects, preparing for meetings and scheduling travel logistics.

• A Level 3 EA is someone who is capable of filling a more strategic role: providing objective advice, participating in meetings, spearheading projects and managing important assignments.

That is the type of person I needed and hoped to find. However, an entrepreneur who requires less support may do well with a lower pay scale Level 2 EA, if that type of assistant is deemed to be a more practical choice.

2. Advertise the position.

I chose to create a job listing on Workable, which is the resource I always use when I need to hire a new employee. I have found that it is the most efficient way to promote an open position. [Note: I am not an affiliate.] By posting a position one time, that post is then shared to multiple job sites. Also, if I want a boosted presence on any particular site, I request that.

3. Don’t be surprised to receive interest from unqualified candidates.

Most of the people who applied to my job listing did not have any EA experience. I assume they thought being an EA was something they wanted to try. However, I did not want to go that route. I didn't want to waste valuable time having to train someone from scratch.

4. Consider EAs who are not currently looking for a job.

In addition to advertising my EA position, I also Googled “executive assistants” in my local metro area. The first page of results included a link to an EA’s LinkedIn profile. I was intrigued, so I clicked the link, studied her profile and discovered she was not actively looking for a new job. However, her qualifications were impressive, and I decided to send a message to her through LinkedIn. The next day she responded to my message. (Spoiler alert: She is the person I ended up hiring.)

5. Involve your human resources director.

A good HR director will have experience studying resumes, screening candidates, arranging interviews and asking the right questions. That’s why I invited my HR director to get involved with the screening and hiring process for my new EA position. In fact, he screened all of the resumes I received from interested applicants so that I wouldn’t have to be concerned with doing that myself. When he saw a resume he liked, he would say, “Hey, take a look at his one. Do you think it's worth a phone call?” If I agreed, he would call that individual to gather more information. Letting him handle those initial steps saved me a lot of time.

If you do not have an HR director on your staff, outsource one. That’s what I did, and our arrangement is working out really well.

6. Find the right personality fit.

My HR director recommended meeting the top two candidates that resulted from our search, so I asked him to handle the scheduling of both interviews. The first individual we interviewed was an EA at a nearby Fortune 500 company. She was very qualified, with many years of experience working in an executive-assistant role. However, during her interview, I found her personality to be off-putting – she came across as overly confident, assertive and condescending. The second individual we interviewed had less experience, but she was personable and enthusiastic, and I felt that we just “clicked.”

Can you guess which one I hired? My HR director slightly favored the Fortune 500 candidate because of her qualifications. However, I favored – and hired – the one whose personality meshed better with my own. Why? I knew that I would be interacting with my EA on a daily basis, so I felt that personality should be a bigger factor in hiring for this position than it would be for any other office position. I needed a really good personality match in order to make this arrangement work.

You may be wondering how my new EA is working out. Well, she has exceeded my expectations. Our personalities match well, and this has made working together easy. We are able to get through tasks quickly with me giving only minor instructions. My mistake was not hiring an EA 10 years ago!


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