The market for EAs was undoubtedly affected by Covid-19 but appetite to hire has returned and high-calibre PAs are very much in demand, says Roddy Adair. Make sure you’re at the top of the hiring pile…
As a high-level EA, you’ll know all about upskilling. But in a post-pandemic world, things look a little different. The duties done by and skills needed from an EA have changed as the role has evolved into a much more strategic and influential position.
We’ve seen some organisations take the chance to change the name of these roles into business support, team assistants or business manager. And now we see specific requests for specialist skills.
Without the volume of typical activity during the Covid-19, such as travel booking and diary management, EAs were freed up to excel at a managerial and strategic level, adding more value to an organisation. As companies adapted to home-working, many of you upskilled to support on areas such as office management, HR, health and safety and internal communications, making EA remits much broader than they were before.
How can EAs build upon their skills now?
Employers are looking for professionals who can offer strategic support to executives whose own evolving role as a leader means they need their assistants to operate as true business managers.
As such, here is my key advice for EAs looking to build their career this year:
- Look to gain specialist expertise
Employers are increasingly adding to the traditional EA remit with responsibilities in specialist functions, such as HR and finance. A background in these areas will provide you with the opportunity to add insight and business acumen to your day-to-day role, as well as traditional PA support.
Don’t have a background here? Try to get involved in projects that enable you to work closely with specific functions – and pay attention to what makes different areas of your organisation tick. This will stand you in good stead for a competitive salary and put you well ahead of the competition.
- Embrace new technology
Automation is revolutionising the world of work and organisations sped up their digital transformation efforts during the pandemic. For EAs, it could transform careers for the better, freeing up time from administrative tasks, such as diary management, allowing you to be more analytical and managerial.
Pre-empting how new technology will potentially affect both your organisation and your own day-to-day role is an important step for using automation to its best advantage. Taking responsibility for innovating your role will also stand you in good stead, allowing you to free up your time for more strategic duties.
Take advantage of as many tech training opportunities that you can. This will help you futureproof your skillsets and remain adaptable to the implementation of any new tech tools or software.
- Hone your soft skills
Despite accelerating technological innovation, soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence and relationship building remain key. They allow you to build strong alliances with the teams and individuals you support, and help you align with other departments across your organisation. In turn, this will help you better understand how you can add value and discover where you are most needed.
So, identify which soft skills you need to work on and upskill in these areas. Applying for a new role? Be prepared to show how your soft skills have helped achieve wider organisational objectives.