Helping executive assistants break through the limitations of their role and advance to their next level with confidence

Kate Minogue, Executive Assistant Career Strategist
Executive Assistant Career Strategist

New Career Options for Executive Assistants – Part I

If you’re an Executive Assistant wondering what other career opportunities are out there, this post is for you.

Executive Assistants possess a unique combination of skills. Most likely, you’re high versatile with the ability to solve a wide range of problems, working with an even wider range of people.

The good news is that these abilities make you a GREAT fit for an unlimited number of interesting career options. As you’ll see shortly, you already possess some of the most important qualifications needed to succeed in the wild new world we live in.

That means that the real question is not what new career choices CAN you do next, but rather what new career options do you WANT to do next?

This post is Part 1 in a 2-part series. Here I’m going share some perspective on what the landscape looks like if you’re starting to think about new directions. I’ll also share some different career paths that executive assistants have progressed into as their next adventures. Then next week, I’ll talk more about how you can start finding cool new opportunities.

What Does It Take to Succeed Today?

According to the World Economic Forum[1], here are a list of the top 10 skills most needed to succeed in 2020:

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgment and decision making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

Hopefully this list is music to your ears! Executive Assistants have to call on all of these skills in order to be successful. Some jobs in certain fields require specialized knowledge and training. However, if you’re worried that to get a new, interesting job you’ll need to go back to school, that’s definitely not necessarily the case. You already possess and are continuously developing many of the qualities that jobs of 2020 will require.

The Times They Are A’Changing

One of the salient features of our world is that it’s constantly changing.

Everywhere you look, things are in flux: technology, the environment, the skills most in demand in the modern workforce, the latest dietary & exercise recommendations, the way we engage on social media.

Information flows faster and with a wider reach than ever before. New career options are available that no one could have dreamed up 10 years ago (Instagram Influencers, ahoy!). The way you do your current job probably looks a lot different than it did even 2 years ago.

What Does That Mean?

The pace of change in today’s world has 2 big implications for you.

  1. As someone who’s adaptable by nature, you have a distinct advantage in today’s job market.

    Because a fast pace of change is likely going to be a feature of
    every job over the next 10 years, your versatility is an enormous asset. This is absolutely a quality to highlight on your resume and LinkedIn pages, and during any interviews as well.

    Being a specialist in a particular area offers some advantages; so does being a kick-ass generalist. Particularly in smaller companies where employees tend to wear more hats than one, your ability to pivot and learn quickly will help you the business’s new problems, opportunities, and technologies.
  2. When it comes to new opportunities, you’re entering the realm of the unknown.

    It’s safe to say that there will be many new ways of making income that will be available over the next few years, but we don’t necessarily know what those are.  It’s also impossible to even know the entire range of options that’s currently available today.

    On one hand, this can seem daunting. How then do you actually go about understanding what kinds of opportunities are out there, and which ones would be a great fit for you?

I’ll get into that question more deeply next week in Part 2 of this article. For now, consider the other side of the coin, which is that it means a wealth of possibilities. In the ever-evolving modern workplace, there are loads of opportunities out there that will be perfect for your skills, opportunities you’ll be psyched to pursue!

The skill of tracking them is an art, a science, and a magic you’ll want to know not only for your next career but for anything else you want to experience in your life.

What Have Other EA’s Transitioned To?

Here are some examples of new career directions from some former executive assistants I’ve known personally over the years (including myself!).

  • Operations manager
  • Graphic designer
  • Account manager
  • Software platform trainer
  • Editor
  • Human resources manager
  • Pricing & Reimbursement manager
  • Coach
  • Communications manager

Looking at this list, what may stand out to you is:

  • The word “manager”
  • The significant diversity of fields

Management Opportunities

A manager is someone who owns projects and processes. She pulls together the various pieces of the puzzle to create results to move the business forward. She plans, organizes, and directs to achieve an objective.

Executive Assistants are natural managers, whether you already have the title or note. On any given day, you’re in charge of directing complex schedules, personalities, and evolving business circumstances. Your tactical skills, combined with a high level of emotional intelligence, position you very well to continue developing these managerial skills in future roles.

According to Forbes[2], here are some of the traits of the best managers:

  • They keep the big picture in mind
  • They’re consistent in their behavior
  • They treat employees’ time as if it were their own
  • They’re unafraid to question their management style
  • They earn the trust of those they manage

Note that deep, specialized knowledge of a given field is not on this list. Of course, any new position or new field will require learning the technical details and the language of the various challenges the business face. But I personally believe that the reason why so many executive assistants go on to become managers is because they possess great soft skills in addition to being great tacticians.

What’s Next?

When it comes to new opportunities for you, they’re endless. The ever-evolving challenges & opportunities in the modern world mean that new ways of making a living are constantly coming into existence.  Your unique skill set that makes you successful as an executive assistant is highly transferable to management positions in a variety of fields. 

That means the question of your new career is not so much about what you CAN do from your executive assistant role, but what do you WANT to do?

Advancing to a different role that’s outside the executive assistant track starts with understanding the way you like to work and kind of problems you like to solve. Where do you want to go deeper? Where would it excite you to play the game at a higher level?

After that, it’s about developing the skills you already have. It’s about bolstering your courage to take on bigger, more complicated projects with higher stakes. It’s about building the confidence to own your skills and talents and speaking up to contribute your ideas.

If you’re unsure about the way you like to work and the kinds of problems you want to solve, set up a free Discovery Session with me – I’d love to help you start answering these important questions!

And stay tuned for next week’s post, when I’ll talk more about how to go about starting to track down new opportunities!

[1] World Economic Forum. The 10 Skills You Need to Thrive in the Fourth industrial Revolution.

[2] Forbes. 5 Things the Best Managers Do and Don’t Do. 9 September 2013.


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