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Personal Assistant vs Executive Assistant - which is best for you?

There are so many different types of assistant out there. Which does your business need?

During recruitment, the terms “Assistant” or “Personal Assistant” tend to be used in a generic manner, no matter the type, level or scope of the work. However, recently we have had several questions from our clients about the differences between a personal assistant, an executive assistant, and an administrative assistant. What kind of work defines the scope for each, and what is the difference in their pay scale? What characteristics should they be looking for in candidates for these positions? And which is best suited to their needs?

It’s our job to take the mystery out of recruitment, and help employers define roles and find the best individuals to fill them. So here we explain the variations between the different types of assistants most commonly recruited.

Types of assistant

There are broadly agreed to be four different types of assistant:

  • Personal Assistant

  • Administrative Assistant

  • Executive Assistant

  • Chief Executive Assistant

Let’s break down how each type is defined.

Personal Assistant

A personal assistant is largely responsible for their employee’s needs on a holistic basis. This could be outside of their professional life, or within it, or working to achieve balance between the two. Tasks may include calendar or diary management (of the individual and also potentially their family), arranging travel, general organisation (office or household), managing correspondence, event planning, and the list goes on.

It is important to know which aspects of your personal and professional life you need assistance with so that this can be clearly defined in the job description, avoiding any conflicts or misunderstandings down the line.

Administrative Assistant

An administrative assistant is somebody whose function is in the workplace in a supportive capacity, helping to make the work of other employees in the business smoother and more efficient. This person may answer the phone and direct calls, book appointments, arrange travel and manage schedules. Often an administrative assistant will be the person who takes minutes in meetings, and organises and coordinates diaries so that productivity of the team can be maximised.

Some administrative assistants specialise in a certain professional area, such as accounting or legal. In this case they will be entrusted with more technically work, such as proofreading documents and responding to queries.

Executive Assistant

An executive assistant supports members of the senior management team to achieve business goals. This person will be more experienced and have a good understanding of how the company is run and what the objectives are. They are administrative professionals and should have the skills to be able to take on certain tasks in their employer’s absence. Executive assistants are in many cases the first point of contact important clients will have with the business, so they need to be able to publicly reflect the company’s values, and be comfortable with a certain amount of pressure.

Chief Executive Assistant

As the name suggests, this person will be the most senior assistant type, and is usually only needed in large corporations with multiple departments or locations. A chief executive assistant will be responsible for a team of staff - executive assistants looking after various heads of departments - and will work to ensure coordination between departments. They may represent senior management across various divisions of the business, with the understanding that a CEO cannot be everywhere at once and needs support. At this level, advanced further education and plenty of experience will be required,

What is the difference in each type of assistant’s salary

What an employer pays their personal, administrative or executive assistant will depend largely on their experience, level of seniority and scope of responsibilities. In Switzerland the range of annual salary for a personal or executive assistant in the corporate environment is between approximately 60,000 Swiss francs at entry level and 120,000 Swiss francs for more senior positions*. Of course this varies according to industry, seniority and experience. There is no hard and fast rule that an Executive Assistant would be paid more than a Personal Assistant - it is simply a case of how and where they are positioned within your company and what is expected of them.

Finding the perfect fit for your business

If you are not sure which type of assistant you need in your business, let us help you. It is our job at InstaPeople to do a thorough job analysis at the outset of your recruitment process. This is how we source the best candidates for the tasks you need, and who will fit perfectly into your team. Once we have helped you make this selection, we will walk you through the hiring and onboarding process from start to finish. Trust us to find your next assistant today so that you can be more productive tomorrow.

For us at InstaPeople, your success story is our success story, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Get in touch with Lindy and her team today so we can accompany you on your recruitment journey.

*According to

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