Do I need experience to be an executive assistant?

Do I need experience to be an executive assistant?

While having experience as an executive assistant can be beneficial and make you more competitive in the job market, it is not always an absolute requirement.

Many employers will be open to considering candidates without direct experience if they possess certain skills, qualifications, certifications, or show a potential for growth.

Let’s explore why experience matters when applying for Executive Assistant roles, what experience is relevant, and other tips & tricks you can use if you have little experience.

Why experience matters

experience to be an executive assistant

Employers in nearly every industry want to hire candidates with experience.

It means they can hit the ground running, and don’t need to be taught every little thing about the job.

Of course, there are some entry-level jobs where experience doesn’t matter, but when it comes to becoming an Executive Assistant at the C-suite level, typically some sort of experience is desirable.

The good news is that there are ways to demonstrate your experience. as we will explore below. You likely have some transferable skills, or have worked in similar jobs such as an administrative role or personal assistant role.

Alternatively, perhaps you’ve taken an online certification course that had hands-on experience.

What experience is relevant?

Any transferable skills you have

Even if you haven’t worked as an executive assistant before, you may have developed transferable skills in previous roles or through education that can be applicable to the position.

Transferable skills are abilities, knowledge, and competencies that individuals acquire in one context or setting that can be applied and utilized effectively in a different environment or situation. These skills are not tied to a specific job, industry, or task but can be transferred and adapted to various roles and circumstances, and may include organization, communication, problem-solving, attention to detail, time management, and proficiency in relevant software.

Highlighting these skills and their relevance to the executive assistant role can make your application stand out.

Administrative experience

While not necessarily in an executive assistant capacity, having prior experience in administrative or support roles can be valuable.

Experience in managing calendars, coordinating meetings, handling confidential information, or providing administrative support in a different context can demonstrate your ability to handle similar responsibilities as an executive assistant.

Internships or volunteer work

Participating in internships or volunteering opportunities that involve administrative or organizational tasks can help you gain practical experience and demonstrate your commitment to learning and growing in the field.

Seek out opportunities in non-profit organizations, community groups, or small businesses to gain hands-on experience and develop relevant skills.

The role of education and certifications

experience to be an executive assistant certifications

A relevant educational background or certifications in administrative support or related fields can enhance your qualifications and compensate for a lack of direct experience.

The are specific courses for Executive Assistants, such as those offered here at the Executive Assistant Insititute.

If you have completed an Executive Assistant Certification course, mention it in your cover letter by stating “I recently completed my Executive Assistant Certification from the Executive Assistant Insititute to further my knowledge in this profession and to remain up to date with the latest trends & technology.”

However, you can also consider taking a course that teaches specific aspects of being an Executive Assistant.

Courses or certifications in areas such as office administration, executive support, or project management can provide you with knowledge and skills that are valuable in an executive assistant role.

You can find such courses at sites like Udemy, Skillshare, and the Data Entry Institute.

Consider networking and seeking mentorship

experience to be an executive assistant mentorship

Building connections with professionals in the field, seeking guidance from experienced executive assistants, or finding a mentor can provide insights, advice, and potential opportunities.

Networking can help you access job openings, learn about the industry, and get recommendations or referrals that can boost your chances of securing an executive assistant position.


While it may be more challenging to secure an executive assistant position without prior experience, it is not impossible. By highlighting your transferable skills, leveraging relevant experiences, investing in education or an executive assistant certification, and actively networking, you can increase your chances of breaking into the field and starting a career as an executive assistant.

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