Job transitioning will always be a challenge you should embrace with open arms. Ensuring a soft landing in a new role requires a lot of elements, but having the hard skills necessary to succeed in the role is a good starting point to ensure you’re a seamless fit.
During the hiring process, employers look for hard skills more than anything else. With job growth projections for the executive assistant role declining, the need to have valuable hard skills to help you shine brighter than your competitors is greater than ever. Have you mastered all the skills necessary to be a top candidate? If not, it’s time to sharpen your proverbial ax. Here are six hard skills you should be developing and where to get them!
1. Prowess with Powerpoint
Your boss’ presentation is in an hour, and they need three more slides created, stat. Can you copy a slide, insert bulleted text in the right font, add supporting graphics and do so quickly without dripping sweat all over the keyboard? If not, find a handy Powerpoint tutorial and fine-tune your skills, pronto!
PowerPoint tutorials are everywhere, including on Microsoft’s website, so you have a detailed breakdown of how to create slides, write, edit and include graphics within PowerPoint. Given that it’s the most popular presentation software around, having strong PowerPoint skills is a major asset. Alongside Microsoft Word and other Office programs, PowerPoint proficiency is highly recommended for EAs.
2. Facility with Asana
When employers look to hire an executive assistant, project management is a hard skill that should already be well-developed, showing your ability to break down large goals into smaller ones. Proving you can streamline work and the communication of involved teams is a godsend for employers.
Regarding project management software, Asana is as good as it gets for executive assistants. Asana includes task/team management and reporting capabilities. It has been cited by more than 80% of customers to increase team accountability and communication value, making goals clearer for everyone. Mastering this software is one of the best hard skills to develop.
3. Ninja-Level Scheduling Prowess
Executive schedules are busy and unrelenting. Executives need their assistants to match the manic, ever-changing pace that their various tasks demand. You don’t need to be a Usain Bolt-level ninja, but the right scheduling software will help you schedule meetings or events at lightning speed to keep your boss happy.
Calendly is the easiest and most reliable online scheduling tool for executive assistants. You can effortlessly sync Calendly with calendars already in place or update hours directly on the platform. Also, Calendly generates links to share with others that automatically sync according to contrasting time zones.
4. CRM Know How
Knowledge of a Customer relationship management (CRM) is another vital executive assistant trait employers look for during the hiring process. There are various recommended CRM that executive assistants can leverage to their advantage, including:
- Zoho CRM—Best for scaling business
- Salesforce—Best for customization
- Nimble—Best for customer prospecting
Regardless of the chosen software, they all have similar tools and database setups that help you familiarize yourself with CRM management quickly. Executives who have a difficult time managing professional networks will value assistants who can maximize the use of this software.
5. Expert Email Management
Executives hire assistants partly because they want someone to take care of the more annoying tasks, like sifting through an unwieldy email queue. Statistics say that the average office worker receives 121 emails a day! It can take hours to read/respond/file/delete this onslaught, which of course takes valuable time away from actual work.
Having strong email management skills is a must for executive assistants, and, you guessed it, there are email management tools you can use to solve any email issues. Chances are pretty good that your executive won’t have a fancy email wrangling tool, which is why they’ll rely on you to suggest one that works for their needs. We like Priority Matrix, a tool specifically used to highlight the most important emails for executives.
6. A Knack for Slack
Knowing how to facilitate healthy conversations among co-workers is another good skill to have as an EA. Few office management tools are more helpful for executive assistants right now than Slack, especially considering that many teams are working remotely due to drastically changing work dynamics.
Slack allows teams to communicate directly or through various channels. Executive assistants can also leverage Slack bots for important calendar dates, including birthdays and other important events.
Where Can You Take Classes to Improve Your Skills?
There are several online resources that you can go to to upgrade your hard skills to stand out even more during the interview process. Do some research on what you’d like to learn and find the e-learning platform that fits your needs and budget. Many places offer free courses (including, of course, YouTube, which is a veritable sea of tutorials and other e-learning opportunities). We’ve compiled a short list of other resources below to help jumpstart your research!
Some of these places include:
- Udemy – Udemy offers a variety of executive assistant training courses, helping you learn administrative assistant skills, scheduling, and marketing.
- Coursera – A reliable entity that works with organizations and universities to offer various online courses and content to help executive assistants learn the nuances of the job.
- Practically Perfect. The gold standard when it comes to providing comprehensive training for assistants, Practically Perfect PA teaches concepts, mindset, strategies, and tactics to help Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants, and Administrative Assistants succeed in the role.
- Skillshare – Executive assistants learn productivity skills, administrative soft skills, time management, and meeting management, among other skills, through Skillshare’s courses for EAs.
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