Ever wondered what the difference is in working as an administrative professional for a manager versus working for an executive level staff member? There are differences and you should be aware of them before you accept that promotion or make that career move. Managers and executives may be both bosses but the biggest similarity stops there; the two are quite different roles in a company. You’ll often (but not always) make a higher salary at the executive admin level, but your decision to make this career move should be based on more than just that. Here is the bigger picture on working for a manager in comparison to working for an executive:
Is Working as an Assistant to a Mid-level Manager Different Than Working for an Executive?
QUESTION: I’ve been an administrative assistant for several years and I am considering applying for an executive assistant position that recently opened up at my company. What are the differences between working for a mid-level manager and an executive, and how would that affect my duties?
ANSWER (by Dave Willmer, executive director of Office Team): Many professionals in your position may feel they have reached a plateau in their career and are ready for a new challenge. However, taking the next step professionally can be daunting. By understanding what you are getting into, you can help allay any misgivings you might have and ensure the new position is the right fit for you.
Investigating some of the differences between working for a manager and an executive will give you a better sense of what to expect if you decide to pursue the new position.
In order to contrast the two, it’s helpful to first look at what your current position most likely involves. As an administrative assistant to a mid-level manager, many of your duties are operational or administrative in nature. For example, a large portion of your time may be taken up performing clerical functions, such as word processing, filing or faxing.
Multiple managers, or even your whole department, depend on you to help manage and organize the electronic and paper records for your group. And because you support many individuals, you become the point-of-contact for your department. Receiving visitors and directing calls and inquiries to the appropriate individuals is something you handle every day.
Your team may ask you to conduct research for them and assist with project management. You also organize and schedule team meetings. And to help maintain productivity and make sure your team has the resources they need to function, you most likely order supplies for your group. By managing these routine duties, you play a central role in keeping your department running smoothly.
Working for an executive brings different challenges in relation to your job duties. As an executive assistant you support one individual who has many demands on his or her time. Therefore, it is imperative that you know your boss well so you can understand and anticipate any needs.
One of your major challenges is managing your executive’s busy calendar. To successfully do this you must be able to take a look at the big picture and be able to prioritize. You’re frequently called upon to make travel arrangements and to work with other executives and their assistants to schedule meetings. Managing your boss’s time goes beyond 9 to 5, as he or she may frequently attend events or functions after business hours.
Not only does an executive assistant play a key role in managing his or her boss’s time, but also does much prep work, providing background information and materials, including reports and financial data. Here too, you must be able to separate the important from the trivial and highlight the key information the executive needs.
An executive assistant is called upon to take care of the administrative and operational tasks so the executive can focus on more important issues. For example, because expense reports can take up valuable time, an executive assistant would process and submit this paperwork for his or her boss.
Though important for any position, the ability to interact with people at all levels is essential because the executive assistant not only represents his or her boss, but is the face of the company to other executives and clients.
Perhaps most importantly, you must be flexible and able to deal with the unexpected. Many demands are placed upon an executive and, as a result, your job really is an extension of your boss’s job.
Before deciding to make the change, it’s a good idea to assess your career goals and ambitions. Ask yourself what you like about your current position and what things you would want to change. Then evaluate whether or not working for an executive would be the right fit for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dave Willmer is executive director of OfficeTeam, the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals. OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.