recruiting

The 10 Intangibles of an Exceptional Executive Assistant 

Do You Have Them? 

Written by: Haley Garrison

Written by: Haley Garrison

At Maven, we're all about the intangibles. In fact, we get the real skinny by working directly with the people making the hiring decisions. Connecting with senior management enables us to truly understand the company's philosophy and culture and the idiosyncrasies of the search—all the important but intangible elements that can't be found in a job description. 

One of the first questions we ask our clients is to identify the intangibles of an exceptional Executive Assistant. They quantify the qualities and characteristics of their ideal candidate, which can be dialed down to any number of things, like emotional intelligence, grit, a scrappy work ethic or a heart to help.  

As we partner with some of the Bay Area’s most well-established and up-and-coming Executives, we’ve got a pulse on what our clients believe to be exceptional. And as advocates for thousands of Executive Assistants in the Bay Area, we're able to spot an exceptional EA when we see one. Here’s what it takes to stand out in this saturated market. 

1. Assertiveness 

When supporting a high-caliber Executive, being assertive is one of those qualities that can really make or break it for you. You know how it goes – you’re supporting a Founder who’s ramping up a Series-C Startup and all you can think is, “When on earth does this wo/man sleep?” That’s where you come in: when it comes to taking initiative, providing insightful push-back or making key business decisions on your Executive’s behalf, asserting yourself is absolutely vital to your success. This might even mean telling them when they need to take a nap. Seriously.  

2. Confidence

Nine times out of ten, an Executive will say to us that they want a confident EA: someone who knows their job, does it well and feels confident taking on more. Confidence is “managing up” your Executive when necessary. It’s instilling confidence in your Executive by staying on-the-ball and never letting a detail slip through the cracks. Confidence is also an attitude; it means that some days you’re going to have to fake it until you make it, and that’s okay too. 

3. Intellectual Curiosity 

In this industry, Executives want to know that you’re hungry to learn, that you want to expand your horizons, grow your skillset and capitalize on your career. This is often how Executive Assistant roles turn into strategic partnerships – when you’re intellectually curious about the business or your specific industry, the opportunity to work on special projects will very likely fall into your lap before you know it. 

4. Adaptability 

Can you roll with the punches? Do you crack under pressure? Can you handle the complexity of a fast-paced industry with poise? Many of our Execs say they’re looking for someone who’s calm, cool and collected – someone who’s flexible and able to bounce back from hurdles. An exceptional Executive Assistant is multi-faceted, a jack of all trades when it comes to office management or personal assistant responsibilities. 

5. Problem Solver

When you break it down, any and every Executive will say they want results. They want someone who is solutions-oriented, success-driven and ready to solve problems like it’s a jigsaw puzzle. Because when it comes down to it, being an EA is putting out constant fires – whether it’s booking a last-minute flight to ensure your Executive makes a spur of the moment business meeting or making a day-of schedule change to accommodate your Executive’s shifting priorities. 

6. Personable 

At the end of the day, our clients want to work with a real. human. being. And before you utter the word "duh" under your breath, listen closely. To be an all-star, you have to understand people, you have to maintain relationships, and you have to make a personable impression on clients and the people you work with. You are an extension of your Executive, which means that when you remember to send a baby gift to a potential investor or ask a business partner how their vacation to Maui was, it reflects positively on your Executive, and might even lead to a big deal.  

7. Grit 

In every aspect of your role, your Executive wants to see that you are strong-willed. Grit shows that you have courage, strength, character and passion for what you do. Treating your work like you have skin in the game shows that you’re committed to persevering through any obstacle. 

8. High EQ 

Emotionally, you get it. Relationships are your thing. You pick up on social cues, you recognize different personalities and you can adjust your communication accordingly. When it comes to making a judgement call, your Executive is confident in your ability because you have a pulse on every factor. 

9. Supportive 

An exceptional Executive Assistant, no matter how experienced, successful, prestigious or award-winning, must be willing to roll up his/her sleeves and lend a helping hand when needed. Having a “no task is too small” attitude, a strong work ethic and a servant heart shows that you appreciate the very nature of your role. When you look at the foundation of the EA role, it was designed and intended to meet the needs of others, and your mentality should be the same. 

10. Trust

Above all else, trust is essential to any partnership – especially one of this stature. When asking our clients to provide us with their must-haves, most everyone finishes off their list by telling us they need someone dependable, reliable, committed, honest, confidential and trustworthy. Whether it’s having access to confidential documents or ghost-writing on your Executive’s behalf, this is a highly personal role which requires an incredible amount of trust. And with trust, you are no longer kept in the “Executive Assistant box,” but rather considered an invaluable asset, confidant and partner. 

If you feel that you resonate with the qualities above, we encourage you to leverage these intangibles to your benefit. These are the touch points you want to convey when interviewing, and these are the traits you want to highlight when giving specific examples of your work ethic and experience.  

Being exceptional isn’t something you’re born with or something you can gain overnight, but with mindfulness and a little practice, you’ll find yourself leaping milestones in your EA career.  

Front Lobby Etiquette for Interviewers

Written by: Leslie Crain

Written by: Leslie Crain

Welcome to the Office!

You’re ready to go. You’ve researched the company, practiced interview questions in front of a mirror, picked out the perfect outfit – and now you open the door and walk in.

But wait! Your first step into the lobby is actually the first step into the in-person interview. What you do in the lobby counts.

Your initial impression on the office is made with the person sitting at the reception desk, and as the first point of contact in Maven’s reception area, I can give you some tips to help you navigate the Front Lobby.

1.       Walk in with confidence!

I can’t tell you how many people walk into our office frowning, expressionless, or looking confused. We’ve given you our address and explained how to get to our office; you’ve found us, now own it. Walk in with a smile and say hello – no need to ask if you’re in the right place when there’s a sign on the door!

2.       Show up on time.

Everyone knows not to be late to an interview, but no one talks about exactly how early to arrive. In general, shoot to be at the office no more than five minutes early. Ten if you have to, but anything more than that, go walk around the block again or find a coffee shop. Your interviewer has a set time allotted to speak with you, and not all front lobbies are conducive to long waits. It can sometimes feel uncomfortable having someone sitting right next to me for an extended period of time while I’m trying to get often-confidential work done.

3.       Polite conversation is good; lengthy conversation, not so much.

The person at the front desk is most likely busy. Yes, we’re greeting guests and of course we love to chat for a bit, but no, we probably don’t have time for a conversation longer than a few minutes. Gauge the level of busy-ness: if the receptionist is answering a constantly-ringing phone, or concentrating on typing, you don’t have to make small talk. If you’re chatting, but s/he keeps looking at the computer screen, cut the conversation short. It’s a fine line between being friendly and taking someone away from work, but it’s important.

4.       Act like you’re in the interview.

What I mean by that is to treat the front lobby as a precursor to the interview itself. Don’t smack your gum; spit out gum before coming into the office. Don’t chat on your cell phone; texting and emailing is fine while you’re waiting, but if you need to talk, please step out. Put your fancy shoes on before coming into the office; don’t change footwear in the lobby. We notice these things.

My colleagues often ask what I thought about certain candidates, and front lobby behavior is what I have to go by. If they’re on the fence about someone, and I remember he came in and was really inconsiderate, even if he was polite in the interview, that’s an insight my colleagues will keep in mind. Similarly, if I have a great interaction with him, that could help push a hiring decision in a positive direction.

That being said – welcome to the office! How can we help you?

Interviewing 101

Written by the Recruiter Who Interviews for a Living

-by Hayley Morrison

-by Hayley Morrison

Day in and day out, I interview candidates. I often hear answers to my questions that I would say are a “no-go” in an interview. One of the many benefits of working with a recruiter is that we are able to offer interview coaching and feedback in order to help you nail your dream job.


Let me tell you a quick story:

I had a candidate - let’s call her Madison for anonymity - who had been in her current role for 10 years and was starting to interview for a new job. In our first meeting, I asked Madison a range of interview questions. Madison answered almost every question I asked her with an incredibly lengthy response, shared WAY too much information, and at times I felt like didn’t even answer my question. Throughout the interview I could tell Madison wasn’t a bad EA, she just didn’t know how to interview. So, the process started: we worked together to practice interview questions and prepared for every interview I sent her on. At the end of it all, Madison landed a role at a top Venture Capital firm, earned an incredible increase in salary, and to this day, she sends me messages thanking me for all the time we spent preparing.

So today, I’m sharing with you some of my “best-kept secrets” of interviewing. I would recommend talking over your specific answers with a trusted professional (a recruiter like me!) before trying at home.

There are 3 Keys to Being Successful in An Interview:

1. Take each and every opportunity to show why the job you’re interviewing for is for YOU!

Remember when your parents told you that the interviewing process is just as much a time to interview the company as much as it is for them to interview you? Well, although I’m not the first to tell you, they were right. As you get to know the company, take this time to illustrate why YOU are the perfect candidate for the role and even more importantly, their culture.

2. NEVER bad-mouth your employer or current boss. I don’t care if they are the worst ever - just don’t do it.

So maybe you’ve had an unfortunate experience with your higher-up and you can’t wait to leave your current role because they make your life miserable. If that’s the truth, well, I’m sorry to hear that, but keep it to yourself. Employers don’t want to hear that you didn’t get along with your boss or that you didn’t gel well with your last team - it’s actually a red flag. The interviewing experience should be nothing but positive: you want to leave a strong and lasting first impression with your potential employer. If the hiring manager ends up with a feeling that you are hard to get along with, bitter, or prone to conflict or drama, I’ll tell you right now you’ve most likely talked yourself out of that job.

3. Be honest and tactful in your responses. This is your time to shine!

Employers want to get to know YOU. They want to see your personality shine through your work, and they want to understand what motivates you. To most employers, a culture fit is more important than the technical skills required for the job. If they feel like your answers are overly scripted or ingenuine, chances are they won’t remember you once you leave your interview. Now is your time to show your potential company that you are unique, authentic and memorable.

So now you have the basics for interviewing, but stay tuned for our next blog… We’re giving you the lowdown on how to respond to the interview questions that keep you awake at night. You won’t want to miss out on that!

 

Maven Gives Back

A Glimpse into our Social Responsibility Program

Written by: Dana Hundley & Haley Garrison

Written by: Dana Hundley & Haley Garrison

At Maven we believe in responsibility. We have a responsibility to our candidates and clients to do good work. We have a responsibility to our employees to recognize passions outside of work and empower them to hustle hard. We also have a responsibility to our community to give back - and this is all done through our Maven Social Responsibility program.  

A big part of what makes Maven successful is that we greatly value the forming of meaningful, long-lasting relationships. We believe community starts with our internal team and continues with our candidates, clients, partner industries, and the greater Bay Area, and we aim to be thought leaders and industry experts through hard work and continued learning. These values are a central part of our Maven Social Responsibility program which provides group volunteer opportunities, extra paid time off to volunteer, Maven donations to employee-chosen organizations tied to team sales goals, and philanthropic components related to Maven events.  

Through partnerships with local nonprofits, our team has volunteered at mock career fairs preparing students for real-life interviewing and designed and hosted resume and LinkedIn workshops for local job seekers. 

With our Admins on the Rise events series, which aims to provide learning and networking opportunities for our administrative and HR professionals, we know building community includes giving back to the local communities in which we work. In this spirit, every event offers an opportunity for guests to donate to a local charitable organization – and Maven matches all donations.  

We are a goal-driven company: each team as well as individual team members have weekly, monthly, and yearly goals to strive to meet and exceed. Achieving team goals is made even sweeter through quarterly Maven donations to team-chosen nonprofit organizations when those goals are met. 

We are excited to share that within the last year, our very own Mavens jumped on the opportunity to use paid volunteer days: in local schools to help students with reading skills, at food banks to organize donations, with CASA to advocate for foster youth, and at a youth detention center to provide coaching around personal statements and interviewing.  

Thus far, Maven has had the pleasure to work with or donate toward Students Rising Above, International Refugee Committee, Defy Ventures, Girls to Women, Dress for Success and many more to come.  

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Stay tuned to see what our Mavens do next!