Executive Assistants

Everything you need to know.

From why to hire an Executive Assistant, to how the EA role is evolving and how to attract and retain the best Executive Assistant talent for your business.

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The Evolving Role of the Executive Assistant 

What does the future of the Executive Assistant role look like? We cover our predictions, including what employers are looking for in their ideal EA.

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As a team, we have nearly thirty years' experience recruiting Executive Assistants across the UK and overseas. Businesses and individuals alike have found that hiring an Executive Assistant can have a number of benefits, however, finding an Executive Assistant to be an extension of you, fit into your business seamlessly and start adding value from day one isn't always plain sailing. Below we share all of our expertise when it comes to hiring an Executive Assistant.

What is an Executive Assistant?

Oxford Languages defines an "Executive Assistant" as “a person employed to assist a high-level manager or professional with correspondence, appointments and administrative tasks”. The role has often been misrepresented, as it has here, as a purely administrative or secretarial support function, covering tasks such as diary and expense management and the typing of correspondence. In reality, however, for those businesses that truly recognise the value of their Executive Assistants, the role is much more comprehensive and is pivotal to the success of, not only the executive team, but the business as a whole.

In order to explore this further, it is necessary to differentiate between the role of the Personal Assistant, or PA, and that of the Executive Assistant, or EA. Traditionally, the PA role encompasses purely administrative, transactional support. The primary function of a PA is to alleviate the administrative burden from the individual(s) they support, so that their principal’s time can be dedicated to other areas which will further the business’s success.

On the other hand, the EA role may encompass anything from overseeing budgets to extensive project management, standing in for their executives during meetings, and anything in between. In some businesses, an EA also manages other assistants and business support staff, or have a hybrid role with office management or human resources duties. The two roles are often differentiated by mindset, too; whereas the traditional PA role is more reactionary, a successful EA is proactive in their approach. Constantly one step ahead of their executive, EAs possess exceptional problem-solving and decision-making skills.

The most crucial difference, however, lies in the EA’s greater responsibility and influence over the business. An EA worth their salt is a leader in their own right. Indeed, Jeremy Burrows, Executive Assistant to the CEO of Capacity, even coined the term ‘leader assistant’ to emphasise the significant impact that the role can have within a business, launching a very successful podcast with the same title.

This is not to say, however, that there are not those with a ‘PA’ title that take on the responsibilities that have been attributed to an ‘EA’, or vice versa, and it is worth noting that the titles are often used interchangeably. On the contrary, no two EA roles are the same, and the distinctions do of course differ from business to business.

In recent years there has been an ongoing discussion about how the role of the EA has evolved. The digital era brought with it a shift in the way that businesses operated and this became the driving force behind the evolvement of the role. Increased productivity, due to technological advances, lead to upskilling becoming a huge focus for the EA profession, enabling EAs to take on additional responsibilities at all levels of the business. Unsurprisingly, with the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the business landscape in 2020, the EA role has had to adapt, alongside business models, in order to remain relevant and effective throughout the pandemic and beyond.

More and more clients are coming to us with roles far broader than the ‘traditional’ scope of an EA. With busy executives being gifted more time in their days, due to fewer face to face meetings and reduced travel, some of the more administrative heavy elements of the EA role have subsided, resulting in executives seeking those EAs who can really step up and work alongside them, taking ownership of projects and duties which will have a direct impact on the way the business functions.

As we look forward, it is those EAs who are able to prove their worth, take on more strategic responsibilities, and truly become an extension of their executives, that will carve the future of the profession and continue to push it forward.

EAs can work within a temporary, permanent or fixed-term capacity and can be either based both remotely, or in the office.

The benefits of hiring an Executive Assistant


Hiring an Executive Assistant can have a multitude of benefits for you and your wider business. Executive Assistants hold a unique and privileged position within any organisation, whereby the nature of their role means that they have detailed knowledge of, and productive working relationships within, all areas of the business. As such, Executive Assistants are some of the most versatile and adaptable people within any business. The most indispensable EAs not only act as communication hubs across all levels of an organisation, but are those that fully understand the strategic objectives of their business, and proactively identify business needs and opportunities to ensure that those objectives are achieved.

Typically, the role is not viewed as a revenue-generating position and, whilst it can be difficult or challenging to quantify the value that an EA adds to the bottom line, one way to view it is as a percentage of the time, and therefore the salary, of the executive or executive team that they support. Senior EAs can give executives up to 80% of their time back to focus on other imperatives to enhance the business – how much do those initiatives add to the bottom line, too?

In that sense, you could view the EA role not as a gatekeeper of people, but of time. The right EA hire can give you back your time and maximise your return on investment to the business. When you consider that executives spend, on average, 58% of their time on emails, a simple email triage system implemented by even the most junior of EAs can reduce the time spent on emails to circa 12%. Instantly, an executive has 46% of their time back, to add value elsewhere.

Facilitating business growth is, of course, just one element of the role, when you add in the cost savings that a commercially-astute EA can bring in terms of travel, events and leveraging technology to enhance and streamline processes and procedures, the financial benefit for the business grows exponentially.

"If you don't have an assistant, you are an assistant."

Jeff Hoffman, Founder of Priceline.com

Undoubtedly, the impact of 2020 has catapulted the Executive Assistant function from a supporting role to a strategic one – a true business partner. More and more, executives are relying on their EAs for far more than administrative assistance, instead seeking strategic guidance, thought leadership and technical advice, not just for themselves and their leadership teams, but for the business as a whole.

Ever the chameleon, high-calibre Executive Assistants are expected to agilely focus their attention on building and maintaining company cultures, implementing employee recognition and wellbeing initiatives, driving internal communication, managing projects and conducting marketing research, with the same dexterity with which they execute their more traditional administrative functions, such as diary management, minute taking, event planning and logistical arrangements.

The successful strategic assistant’s objective is to make their executive more effective at every opportunity by ensuring that they, themselves, are fully aligned to the company’s strategy, acting as an extension of their executive and helping their business to achieve its goals.

The role of the EA has often been likened to the oil in the cogs of the working machine – making things run more smoothly and alleviating precise time pressure on executives and senior business leaders. The future EA is a leader, in their own right, adding vast quantities to the bottom line and making executive teams more effective, whilst being fully aligned to the business’s strategy and instrumental to organisations achieving their goals.

"The manager and the assistant do the same job, they have the same objectives, they simply carry out different tasks to achieve those objectives."

Heather Baker, Founder of Baker Thompson Associates

Far from a "luxury" position, the high-calibre EA is firmly established as imperative to the success of the executive team, and the wider business. It is unsurprising, then, given the role’s potential, that USA Today described the Executive Assistant as Silicon Valley’s “power job”, and reported that it is not uncommon for EAs there to pull in six-figure salaries, plus bonus and equity.

By investing in EAs, businesses gain a fully-fledged member of the executive team, capable of performing under incredible amounts of pressure and adept at ensuring that strategic objectives are achieved.

 

How to Use Your EA Properly

When it comes to ensuring that you're utilising your Executive Assistant effectively to maximise productivity and return on investment, Lucy Brazier, CEO of Marcham Publishing, has some fantastic advice. After all, why wouldn't you want to gain up to 80% of your working day back? 

HOW TO RECRUIT AN EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT 

 

What Do Executive Assistants Want?

Once you've come to the decision that you are going to hire an Executive Assistant, it is important that you undertake research in order to establish what most support professionals are looking for with regards to a role. Having a better insight into what EAs want will set you apart from other companies within the market and help you to ensure that the role and the package you are offering are both competitive and attractive to the top talent out there. 

Money Matters

Two-thirds of the EAs we surveyed in our 2020/21 Salary & Market Insights Survey would seriously consider leaving their current role if they were to be offered a 5% pay rise elsewhere. 54.3% of EAs stated that an annual discretionary bonus would make them stay in a role for longer, with 32.4% saying it may well influence their decision. Competitive benefits continue to remain a hot topic when it comes to attracting high calibre candidates, with professionals continuing to receive more perks in the last 12 months and the majority of respondents preferring to receive benefits over a cash equivalent. To attract the best talent, it's imperative that the salary you are offering is competitive and not below market rate; consider offering an annual discretionary bonus, as well as an annual or bi-annual salary review, where possible. 

Flexible and Remote Working Opportunities 

EAs are increasingly looking to work for companies that offer flexible and/or remote working opportunities. Offering flexible and remote working opportunities results in healthier and more productive working habits, as well as reducing staff turnover within the workforce, so this is something to bear in mind when looking to hire an Executive Assistant. 

Culture 

The key to attracting and retaining talent is to foster an open and dynamic culture. Company culture is another important factor that EAs consider when weighing up a potential job offer, with 58% of the employees we surveyed stating that they have left a job or would consider leaving a job if they felt the culture and social environment were permeated by negative office politics. A positive culture can result in clearer thinking, higher productivity, a bigger picture mindset, innovation and empathy, which can, in turn, all contribute to pushing the company forward.

What's more, an inclusive culture is more likely to make its employees feel heard, supported and empowered to do their best work, share ideas, and fulfil their potential. It is important to highlight your company culture in job specifications, on your company website and across your social media platforms in order to attract the right Executive Assistant for you and your business.

Training and Development 

Over half of the support professionals we surveyed felt that their employer did not offer enough training or the ability to upskill within their role. This is a key point to consider when hiring new employees as, if your company does not offer EAs the chance to upskill, you are more likely to lose out on top talent to competitors within the market. Make sure that any potential opportunities for extra training and upskilling are detailed within the job description or outlined to the agency that you are working with, as this will be extremely appealing to a lot of candidates within the market and may set you apart from other companies who are hiring.

Beginning the Search

Once you have decided to hire an Executive Assistant and have taken into consideration what EAs within the market are looking for, you can start to begin the search for your perfect EA. The next steps to consider are how to sell the position available and what salary the role you are offering will warrant. An informative and well-written job description is key when trying to entice the top talent, however, ensuring the salary you are offering is in line with market rates is also an important factor to consider when looking to attract the right calibre of candidate. A good Executive Assistant recruitment agency should be able to help you with providing job description templates and accurate salary information.

Write an Effective Job Advert

The key to attracting the best and most suited talent is to ensure that you have an appealing and informative job description. A good job description should be comprised of the following sections:

  • Start off the Executive Assistant job description by including a concise and informative introduction to the role and who it will be supporting. This will help whoever is reading the job description to ascertain whether the role is appropriate for them and aims to entice potential candidates to keep reading.

  • List the key role responsibilities that the successful Executive Assistant will be undertaking, in order to make clear what is expected, should the applicant be offered the role.

  • Give a personal specification. In this section, list the essential and desired skills, qualifications and attributes that you are looking for the successful applicant to have. For instance, if you require an EA to have a minimum of three years’ experience supporting at board level and a qualification in Project Management, you should make this clear. Setting out your expectations and clarifying whether these are prerequisites or preferences will mean that you will attract candidates who meet these requirements and receive fewer applications from candidates who do not have the relevant experience.

  • When it comes to remuneration and benefits, you should list the salary, or salary bracket, on offer and highlight any benefits, rewards or extra training available. Think of this section of the job description as a means to showcase what you are offering that other companies may not be.

  • At the end of the Executive Assistant job specification, it is important to give some insight into what your company does, what the company culture is like and what sets you apart from competitors. This section doesn’t have to go into a great amount of detail, as most applicants who are interested in the job specification will then go away and do their own independent research on your company before applying to the role. However, this section should not be overlooked as it is a great way for you to showcase what your company has to offer and what differentiates your business from any other businesses that applicants may be considering working for. 

  • Salary

    Where salary is concerned, this can differ depending on location, industry and the level of support required. If you are looking to ensure that the salary you are offering is competitive and in line with market rates, please download a copy of our latest Salary & Market Insights Survey.

The Recruitment Process

Having put together a job description and package that takes into consideration what support professionals are looking for, you are now nearly ready to begin the interview process. However, before you start looking at CVs and shortlisting EA candidates to interview, take a moment to think about the following:

  • The market

    It’s important to consider whether the current Executive Assistant market is candidate or job heavy. A good Executive Assistant recruitment agency should be able to advise you on this.

  • Think "outside the box"

    A competitive candidate market in H2 2020 resulted in companies seeking more professionals with specific industry experience, with demand for degree-educated candidates also increasing. Whilst it is easy to see why specific industry experience could be appealing in a more remote-based environment, it is worth remembering that cultural fit and work ethic remain top of hiring managers’ priorities when it comes to recruiting EAs and other business support and secretarial staff. We would always strongly advise our clients to be open to considering experience from a range of industries, as well as varying levels of education, to promote a diverse workforce and ensure the best talent for their business.

    In recent years, we've witnessed more and more companies are thinking "outside the box" and making hiring decisions based on personality and transferable skills rather than industry-specific experience. A good Executive Assistant will be able to adapt to a new industry quickly and pick up the terminology as they go along. It is easier to train an EA on industry-specific information than it is to train an individual to behave and operate in a certain way. As Simon Sinek says: 

    “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills”. 

    In addition, due to the change in the business landscape as a result of COVID-19, many companies have had to change the way that they work and operate, with many companies now considering remote Executive Assistants, or Virtual Assistants, where they previously would have hired office-based staff. This shift will further increase the talent available, as the removal of geographical boundaries will mean that a candidate's location will no longer dictate their suitability for a position.

The Interview Process

The only thing standing in your way of hiring your perfect Executive Assistant now is a successful interview process. Ideally, after conducting interviews, you should come away feeling confident that you have gained an honest insight into the candidates, their personalities, their skill sets and whether they are the right fit for your company culture. In order to ensure that you finish the interview process with the right candidate for the job, we recommend that you take the below approach to interviews.

We appreciate that due to COVID-19, face-to-face interviews may be unlikely for some time, however, the following process can be applied to both video and face-to-face interviews.

  • Implement a CV-based discussion

    When you initially read through the candidate’s CV, were there are specific questions you wanted to ask? If so, make a list or annotate the CV to prompt you when interviewing. These questions can be anything, as such:

    • Who were you supporting in this role?

    • How big was the company/team?

    • What was your biggest achievement within this role?

    • Why did you leave that role?

    • What transferable skills do you feel you gained during your most recent role?

    Asking questions surrounding a candidate’s current and previous roles will allow you to dig a little deeper, whilst also enabling the candidate to clarify any queries you may have surrounding their CV and/or experience. Furthermore, starting the interview off with a CV based discussion will hopefully ease the candidate into the interview, as they will have prepared and feel confident discussing their current and previous positions. It will also hopefully allow for any interview nerves to drop off, so that you see the candidate’s personality shine through.

  • Ask the Executive Assistant questions relating to cultural fit and personality

    Cultural and personality fit are some of, if not the most important aspects to consider when bringing a new member of staff into your team and company. It is key to ask candidates questions which will highlight their personality and their preferred ways of working, to ensure that you are bringing the right person on board.

    For example, you wouldn’t want to bring someone into your company who thrives in a tight-knit team, if they are going to be the only person in the office, or if they like a vibrant and buzzy office but you are a small and quiet workplace. In order to gain more of an insight into the candidate's personality and how they like to work, think of asking questions such as:

    • How would you describe your ideal way of working?

    • How would your manager describe you?

    • Can you talk me through your favourite role to date and why?

    • What has been your least favourite role to date and why?

    • What are the most satisfying and most frustrating aspects of your present job?

    • What do you like to do in your spare time?

    Questions like these will shed more light on the interviewee’s personality and what they have enjoyed, or not enjoyed, in their current and previous roles, which will enable you to decide whether or not they are going to be the right fit for you and your wider business.

  • Ask questions relating to cultural fit and personality

    During an interview, asking scenario-based questions can provide an excellent insight into how a candidate thinks on their feet and can really help you to uncover who will be most suited to the job at hand. It is important to think of real-life scenario questions that the EA may have faced in previous roles or may go on to face in the role that they are interviewing for, such as:

    • Can you give me an example of a time when you have worked with a difficult individual and how you dealt with the situation?

    • How do you manage a demanding executive?

    • Can you give me an example of how you rectified a difficult situation?

    • Can you give me an example of when you have successfully juggled conflicting priorities and how you managed this?

    Asking questions like this will give you a better understanding of the candidate’s thought process, as well as their problem solving, time management and communication skills. It should also give the interviewee the opportunity to highlight their professional experience, abilities and personal strengths in order to overcome challenges and attain goals in their career.

Testing

If you have undertaken an interview and have a couple of potential EA candidates to choose between, it may help to undertake some sort of testing with the remaining candidates in order to help you reach a final decision. Testing potential recruits at interview stage can help you to gain a better understanding of the candidates and add an element of objectivity.

The three main tests that tend to be administered during interviews for EAs are psychometric testing, software testing and prioritisation testing. All three of these tests can be administered remotely, if you are conducting interviews virtually, or in a face-to-face setting.

  • Psychometric testing can be extremely useful in providing you with a deeper understanding of a candidate’s personality and where their strengths and weaknesses lie as a result of their personality type. This can assist in demonstrating how well they would work alongside you and the wider team. At Lily Shippen, we always use psychometric testing when hiring new members of staff and find it extremely useful and insightful.

  • Another test worth considering is a software test. For example, you could ask candidates to put together a PowerPoint presentation on a given topic. This will allow you to see how strong their PowerPoint skills are and how efficient and accurate they are when compiling a PowerPoint presentation in a set amount of time. The same process applies for other software such as Outlook, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.

  • Finally, a very simple test that you can implement is a prioritising exercise. This can be as easy as compiling a list of example tasks that you would need completing by the successful candidate on a daily or weekly basis and asking the candidates to prioritise them in order priority.

Hopefully, including a test in the interview process will help you to finalise your selection and ensure that you hire the perfect EA for you and your business!

Check References

It’s always important to check references, and recruiting an Executive Assistant, either on a temporary or full-time basis, is no exception; we highly recommend that you always do this. A temporary Executive Assistant recruitment agency will usually complete the reference checking process on your behalf, since they are liable for the temporary Executive Assistant. However, if you are recruiting a permanent Executive Assistant, it is your responsibility as an employer to check the references, as you would for any other employee.

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THE EVOLVING ROLE OF THE EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT

What will the future of the EA role look like? Our most extensive whitepaper to date explores how the role has evolved and what the future holds for the profession.

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EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT RECRUITMENT AGENCIES

When looking to hire an Executive Assistant, it’s important to find an Executive Assistant recruitment agency that specialises in this type of recruitment. This will mean that you will be speaking to a recruitment consultant who is used to recruiting these positions regularly, and will be able to provide you with accurate advice and market intelligence. A good recruitment agency can be the difference between a stressful or an enjoyable job search or candidate search and, if you find the best recruitment agency, you may not need to even work with more than one.

Specialist 

Working with an agency that specialises in recruiting Executive Assistants, instead of a general agency, has a number of advantages, such as the fact that they will have a better understanding of the role and the type of skill set required for the position that you are recruiting for. It's no secret that the EA role differs greatly between companies and is very much tailored to the company and individual(s) that the EA will be supporting. By working with an agency that is an authority on the Executive Assistant market, you are ensuring that your requirements are fully met and that you secure the best talent for your business.

Specialist agencies are also more likely to have a wide database of suitable, high-calibre candidates already at their fingertips and typically secure higher quality CVs than those you may receive through direct job applications or general agencies. This is due to the fact that specialist agencies have a thorough vetting system in place to properly screen their candidates and take the time to learn about their skills and their previous and current roles, as well as their motivations for seeking a new role and expectations from a new position and company. Working with a specialist EA agency will take the leg work out of your recruitment search and considerably speed up the hiring process.

A specialist Executive Assistant recruitment agency will also be able to give you accurate salary information, and they will typically produce an annual salary survey.

Reviews and Previous Partnerships

When looking for an Executive Assistant recruitment agency to work with, you should look out for Google or Feefo reviews, as these can give you a good indication of the candidate and client experience that they offer. Reviews, testimonials and case studies from other businesses that they have previously partnered with, will all give you an insight into the company's reputation and credibility; if an agency has glowing reviews from EAs and clients alike, this is usually a sign that you are on to a winner!

Company Values

Another key aspect to research when looking to partner with an EA recruitment agency is whether their company values are listed on their website. This can really help you to understand the agency’s mission statement, their commitment, their ethics, how they operate and what their key objectives are when working with candidates and clients alike. If a company does display its values on its website, read through them and see how they align with your own personal and company values.

Social Media Channels

Actively keeping in touch with their network by posting regular updates across their social media channels is a sign that an agency goes the extra mile. This can be by offering advice and support to the Executive Assistant community, or generally celebrating and being passionate about the EA profession. Look for an agency that goes above and beyond for their clients and candidates, such as offering workshops for their candidates or extra features or guarantees for their clients, like psychometric testing or a free replacement should a candidate they place leave within six months. If a recruitment agency is adding value to the EA community and its virtual connections through engaging content, it's a great indication that they will go above and beyond to secure the perfect EA for you and your business. 

Ask Your Peers

When looking for a suitable agency to partner with, it can be as simple as asking around your network of peers. There is a high possibility that hiring managers within your network have heard about the agency you are looking into partnering with, or they may have even worked with them previously on an EA hire and, as such, they can give you an honest insight into what they have heard or experienced. Recruiters and agencies often have a strong social presence, be it on LinkedIn or other social platforms, so asking around can give you a huge amount of information into the agency’s reputation and whether or not other companies would recommend them or use their services again in the future.

At Lily Shippen, we are fortunate to have received a great deal of work through referrals from companies or individuals that have worked with us previously. In fact, 83% of our business comes from client referrals, which just goes to show that reputation is key when looking to partner with an agency to recruit a new EA for your business.

Schedule an Introductory Meeting

Finally, why not ask the agency to pitch their services to you either by inviting them into the office or scheduling a virtual meeting? This will allow the agency to showcase what value they can bring, as well as providing more information about what they can offer you in terms of knowledge, the calibre of candidates available, the current market, or any extra measures that could be of interest. A strong performance shows that they have done their homework and that they are committed to providing you with the most suitable and talented EA candidates for the job at hand!

We firmly believe that meeting our clients face-to-face, wherever possible, is imperative for us to understand their requirements and their expectations of the Executive Assistant that joins their team, as well as providing an invaluable insight into their culture which then informs our search for an EA that will fit seamlessly into the organisation from day one. 

 

WHY PARTNER WITH LILY SHIPPEN?

Our multi-award winning team are experts in connecting exceptional executive and business support talent with companies across the UK and internationally. We're proud to have been recognised as one of the best recruitment agencies to work with and to have been awarded the Gold Trusted Service status on Feefo as a result of our consistent five-star rating.

With teams on the ground in both Manchester and London, we're adept at securing top EA talent across the UK, as well as internationally and virtually. Committed to delivering the highest level of service for our clients and candidates, our approach to Executive Assistant recruitment enables exceptional support staff to fulfil their true potential and achieve optimum value for employers. We offer a range of tailored recruitment solutions to suit your company’s needs and provide training and qualifications to upskill the talent that you employ.

Our service is driven by knowledge. As a boutique, specialist executive and business support agency, our team have an unrivalled understanding of what excellence looks like across all levels of the Executive Assistant profession. We believe that our position in the recruitment process is to act as an extension of you and your business. We pride ourselves on our ability to fully understand your unique requirements, which is why we meet with every Executive Assistant that we work with to ensure that you secure the best EA talent for your business.

Whether you’re looking to recruit a virtual, temporary, full-time, part-time or permanent Executive Assistant, we’ve got you covered.

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Lily & Emma

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT SALARIES

 

How Much Does It Cost To Hire an EA?

Executive Assistant salaries can range depending on location, responsibilities and the level of experience that you are looking for. In London, EA salaries range from £45,000 to £60,000, on average, for permanent roles, with contract rates of £22 - £30 per hour. Whereas, in Manchester, permanent EA roles typically attract salaries of circa £32,000 - £45,000, with contract rates coming in at £16 - £22 per hour. This is a similar story across the UK, with permanent EA salaries in the regions averaging at £32,000 - £45,000, or £16 - £22 per hour for temporary contracts. 

Our 2020/21 Salary and Market Insights Survey explores EA salaries and benchmarking in more detail, as well as investigating the impact that COVID-19 has had on the sector and what the future of the profession holds. Key takeaways from the report are outlined below:

Recruitment trends suggest that PAs and EAs within the financial services industry will continue to support multiple principals, attracting higher salaries than their counterparts in other industries. However, our research has revealed that EAs supporting one principle, in a more comprehensive, 360-degree strategic support role are awarded a higher salary. This correlation would suggest that demand for the Executive Business Partner role will continue to grow, as the role of the more experienced EA continues to evolve.

Interestingly, many of the EAs we spoke to would class themselves as performing the Executive Business Partner role, despite their job titles not reflecting this, nor receiving the salary the title attracts. Whilst there has been a big focus on the role over the past 12 months, particularly in London, this does beg the question of whether businesses in the UK have yet truly embraced this position. With more and more strategic roles appearing throughout 2020, we anticipate that the increased demand for career progression opportunities from EAs will result in more widespread Executive Business Partner and Chief of Staff positions throughout 2021. After all, offering more senior EAs the title and associated salary, as opposed to an EA package, is undoubtedly an opportunity to attract and retain the best talent, whilst ensuring that strategic business objectives are achieved.

Our 2020/21 study reveals that regular pay reviews are also imperative in retaining top talent. When you consider that 38.7% have not received a salary increase in the last two years, it is unsurprisingly that an increase in salary and/or benefits is a key motive for professionals looking to leave their current companies.

64.8% of respondents would seriously consider leaving their current role for a 5% pay increase elsewhere.

London

Benefits

Whilst salary undoubtedly remains a priority for EAs, our 2020/21 Salary and Market Insights Survey reveals that a base salary in isolation is no longer sufficient to attract and retain top talent. Instead, offering a fuller, more-rounded benefits package is essential for companies to maintain a competitive edge, with the majority of respondents preferring to receive benefits over the cash equivalent.

Flexible benefits solutions are also becoming increasingly popular, allowing employees to choose which perks to take advantage of, or receive the cash equivalent. At the other end of the spectrum, 19.4% of those surveyed receive no benefits whatsoever, presenting a real opportunity for companies to stand out from the crowd.

Whilst more traditional benefits range from private healthcare to enhanced pensions schemes, gym memberships and childcare vouchers, it is encouraging to see more benefits focussing on staff wellbeing coming to the fore as a result of the pandemic, such as mindfulness workshops, working from home budgets and subscriptions to Headspace.

PA benefits
When it comes to holiday allowances, the majority of those surveyed are granted 25 days’ annual leave; more than a quarter of employers offer 26 days or more, with 36 days being the highest holiday allowance on offer. More than half of employees have the option to buy and sell holidays as part of their benefits package – an attractive perk for many job-seekers, and particularly those for whom work-life balance is a priority.

Money Saving Tips

Looking to save money when recruiting an Executive Assistant? In this short video, our Managing Director, Lily, shares her top tips.

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Our 2020/21 Salary & Market Insights Survey

Our latest report investigates the impact that the pandemic has had on the executive and business support industry, exploring employment trends and our predictions for 2021 and beyond.

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Looking for an Executive Assistant Job?



If you’re looking for an Executive Assistant job, you’ve come to the right place. Collectively, we have over thirty years’ experience helping people look for an EA job and take the next step in their Executive Assistant career. As experts in our field, we will be able to offer you advice on accurate salary expectations, as well as ensuring that your CV stands out from the crowd and showcases your skills in the best possible light.
 
Firstly, it’s important to consider what kind of Executive Assistant job you are looking for. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • Are you looking for a temporary or permanent Executive Assistant job?

  • What industries are you looking to work in?

  • Are you open to temporary to permanent Executive Assistant opportunities?

  • Where are you looking to be based? Do you want to work in an office or work from home?

  • Are you wanting to support one person in an EA role, or would you rather support multiple executives?

Once you’ve got a good idea of what type of EA role you are looking for, it’s time to start your search. Get in touch with an Executive Assistant recruitment agency. You can often find these by searching on Google or asking friends or colleagues for recommendations.

To find out more about the service that we offer at Lily Shippen and to browse our vacancies, just click below. 

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What does it take to be one of the best Personal Assistants? How do you get there, and what happens along the way? Lily Shippen interviews some of the top PAs, EAs and VAs across the world in this brand new series.

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT 

Our annual salary survey repeatedly indicates that, for the majority of EAs on the market, the ability to progress or upskill is the most important thing that they look for in a role and company. Concurrently, this is the main reason candidates cite when they are looking to leave a role: there is no room for progression. Another key differentiator for businesses looking to attract top talent is investing in personal development, with 82.7% of secretarial and support staff having looked into this for themselves.

As a company, if you can offer your EA the option to take on more responsibility, attend training, or present opportunities for upskilling, this will go a long way towards retaining top talent within your business. Moreover, promoting clear career progression pathways will foster loyalty, resulting in lower attrition rates and higher levels of engagement. Progression makes employees feel as though they are growing with the company and provides them with a sense of purpose, whilst helping them feel supported in the workplace, which in turn increases engagement and productivity; research has proven that employees are happy to invest in companies that invest in them in return.

Encouraging progression within a Executive Assistant role allows EAs to become more confident in taking ownership of tasks and projects, and getting involved in other areas of the business. Whilst investing in an EA and challenging them to take on projects outside of their day to day duties enables them to become more strategic, which drives the business forward.

This is why we have launched an exclusive collaboration with EA training specialist, Your Excellency Limited. Our unique offering allows employers who hire through Lily Shippen to enrol their staff onto an accredited qualification programme with Your Excellency, the cost of which is included in our recruitment fee. We also hope that this will present opportunities for companies to consider more junior staff, who may previously have been overlooked due to less experience in a particular area than their more senior peers.

Both Lily Shippen and Your Excellency Limited are passionate about creating a community of high-calibre Executive Assistants who can deliver exceptional performance for their executives, the companies they work for, and themselves. It is key that EAs keep their skills relevant, especially in a world where remote working and the use of technology has become the norm. We believe that this partnership will be very appealing to companies who are looking to get the most out of the new hires they bring onboard. Not only that, but investing in employees’ personal development from the offset will result in companies retaining that top talent within their businesses in the long-term.

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ASK THE EXPERT

We asked Lindsay Taylor, Co-Founder and Director of Your Excellency Limited Virtual Academy, for her expert opinion on the importance of training and development within the EA profession.

Throughout the past year, we’ve seen more and more employers seeking ways to motivate and retain their existing EAs, PAs and business support employees.

There is an expectation that the EA profession in particular “step up” to contributing more strategically.

As we enter 2021, employers looking to hire new business and executive support talent are faced with a highly competitive recruitment market. With more professionals chasing the same roles, an applicant’s ability to showcase their skills and experience becomes vital, whilst company culture and the opportunity for professional development and career progression are imperative for companies hoping to secure the best talent.

With more and more employers seeking multi-skilled, highly-qualified business and executive support staff, Your Excellency Limited are delighted to have teamed up with the team at Lily Shippen to create a unique offering for employers looking to attract high calibre candidates.

By investing in employees’ development from day one, companies will undoubtedly be more attractive to potential hires - particularly in the current climate where job security is more important than ever - whilst cultivating loyalty and retaining that top talent in the long-term.

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Evolving EA

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