Resumes & Cover Letters

How to Create the Perfect Administrative Assistant Resume

administrative-assistant-resume
Written by Kate Lopaze

If you’re already an administrative assistant (or you know much about the field), you know that the admin is often the person who keeps the trains running in a busy office. You’re the keeper of schedules and files, as well as providing support in any number of administrative duties. Administrative assistants have a very special career path in that they’re found in just about every industry. Skills you learn as an assistant in one industry can carry you through to another field altogether, which means you have tons of career flexibility. And you’re in good company: in 2014, there were nearly four million administrative assistant jobs in the country, per the united states bureau of labor statistics.

But how do you break into this field—or if you’re already in it, how do you start moving up to your advantage?

As with most career advancement questions, the answer lies in a document we all know and love: the resume. Your resume is your foot in the door, so you need to make sure it accomplishes three things:

  1. It should represent the best of who you are, career-wise.
  2. It should show how qualified you are for the specific job opening at hand.
  3. It should be formatted in a way that’s clear and easy to read.

For more on the overall job search for administrative assistants (current or future), TheJobNetwork has tons of great resources on the hunt and the career path. For now, let's focus specifically on the resume.

1. What type of resume should you use?

2. How to format the resume

3. Combination resume

4. How to wrap up the resume

What type of resume should you use?

The reverse-chronological resume (the kind where you start with your basic information like contact information, objective, and education, then work backwards through your job history and related skills) has been the gold standard for a long time. Now, however, with recruiters and hiring managers getting resumes in all sorts of formats, your options have gotten a little more diverse. That means you can pick a format that works best for your career and your status as a job applicant.

Entry-level applicants

If you’re just getting started (after graduating or starting over as a career change), you might want to consider a skills-based resume. This means that instead of launching into your work history, you have a bulleted list of professional skills. This kind of resume takes the spotlight off of your experience (which you might not have tons of yet) and puts it on the skills you bring to the new job. A skills-based resume might be the best option for you if you have any of these going for you:

  • You have very few relevant jobs (and don’t want to list that table-waiting gig that got you through summers, or the internship that ended up having nothing to do with your eventual goals).
  • Your previous jobs are so similar that the detailed bullets about each job would be virtually the same.

The Muse has more on the skills-based resume format, if you’re still on the fence about whether this is the right format for you.

If you go with the skills-based resume, it’s extra important to customize your resume for each job application. before applying, do your research:

  • Which tasks/skills are specifically outlined in the job description?
  • What background information can you find about the company’s values? (company websites often have mission statements, or brief summaries of the company’s values and goals.)
  • Does anyone in your network work at this company? If so, the benefits are twofold: this person could help get your resume in the right inbox, but he or she could also give you some insight into what the company’s culture is like, and what qualities would be most welcomed.

Once you have as much info as you can find, create your “skills” showcase to reflect what the company is seeking for this particular position. For the work history that follows, you can keep the individual job history bullets very basic (company name, job title, dates).

Mid-career or job change applicants

Even if you’ve had administrative assistant job(s) before, it’s still a good idea to rebuild your resume from scratch for new opportunities. You want it to be the snapshot of your career at this moment, not some cut-and-paste throwback to one or two jobs ago.

If you have great experience, then the traditional reverse-chronological format is totally fine. But you might also want to consider a hybrid of the two, a combination resume. In this kind of format, you lead with an overview of your most relevant skills, followed by detailed bullets walking back through your work history.

How to format the resume

If you want to use an existing template, there are lots of good sites that do the heavy lifting for you—all you need to do is cut and paste your info into the template. Some great resources for resume templates include ResumeGenius, myPerfectresume and Best-Job-Interview.

If you’re more into DIY, and want more control over how the information is presented, you can also use these guidelines to help you build your best administrative assistant resume.

For a traditional reverse-chronological resume, we’ve got your back. ResumeGenius also has some straightforward examples of how to format the standard resume. If you’d like to branch out from that established format, let’s look at the skills-based resume and the combination resume for someone applying for an administrative position.

 Skills-based resume

Let’s say this candidate has only been out of college for about a year, but wants to emphasize the skills s/he’s amassed through work, internship, and volunteer experiences. The skills-based resume would be the way to go. Here’s an example of how that would look:

Terry Robinson

14 West Street, Apt. 2bHartfordrd, CT, 45454 · (000) 999-9999 trobinson@emailclient.com · LinkedIn: www.linked.in.com/trobinson

Objective

Administrative professional seeking to leverage skills and experience into a senior office manager position.

Skills summary

Office management skills:

  • Scheduling and coordinating meetings for senior managers
  • Making travel arrangements for team members
  • Managing travel and expense reports for team members
  • Working independently with minimal training

Project management skills:

  • Spearheading the transition from a paper filing system to digital
  • Managing intern training programs

Communication skills:

  • Managing correspondence for executives and senior managers
  • Creating and distributing a company-wide newsletter to generate awareness of team accomplishments
  • Liaising with a variety of clients, in-house teams, and vendors
  • Multilingual: english, french, spanish
  • Social program planning

Computer skills:

  • Expert in the microsoft office suite
  • Certified in quickbooks
  • Proficient in social media and corporate communications

Experience

Administrative Assistant, The Forrest Group (Hartford, CT) - May 2015 – Present

Intern, Ogilve & Groves (New Haven, CT) – June 2014 – August 2014

After School Program Coordinator, Gene Autry Elementary School (West Hartford, CT) – April 2012 – Present (volunteer basis)

Education

University of New Haven, New Haven, CT – Bachelor’s Degree in Education, 2015. 3.7 GPA.

Combination resume

Now let’s say, a few years later, this candidate is further along in his or her career as an administrative professional. S/he still wants to emphasize skills, because the job description for which he’s applying at educorp calls for someone with strong office management and communication skills.

Terry Robinson

14 West Street, Apt. 2b, Hartford, CT, 45454 · (000) 999-9999 trobinson@emailclient.com · Linkedin: www.linked.in.com/trobinson

Professional experience

The Forrest Group, Hartford, CT - Administrative Assistant,  February 2011 – Present

  • Served as primary administrative assistant and office manager for the sales group, including direct secretarial support for the executive vice president.

Ogilve & Groves, New Haven, CT – Receptionist, May 2006 – January 2011

  • As the front-office representative for a top advertising firm, handled correspondence and incoming phone calls, filing, training interns and junior staff, and coordinating schedules with clients and vendors.

Skills summary

Office management skills:

  • Scheduling and coordinating meetings for senior managers
  • Making travel arrangements for team members
  • Managing travel and expense reports for team members
  • Working independently with minimal training

Project management skills:

  • Spearheading the transition from a paper filing system to digital
  • Managing intern training programs

Communication skills:

  • Managing correspondence for executives and senior managers
  • Creating and distributing a company-wide newsletter to generate awareness of team accomplishments
  • Liaising with a variety of clients, in-house teams, and vendors
  • Multilingual: English, French, Spanish

Computer skills:

  • Expert in the Microsoft office suite
  • Certified in QuickBooks
  • Proficient in social media and corporate communications

Education

University of New Haven, New Haven, CT – Associate’s degree in business, 2006

Both formats are similar, but allow the applicant to use more discretion in what he or she presents. You may have been taught that resumes should have a rigid format, but it’s not true—your experience isn’t one-size-fits-all, so why should your resume be?

How to wrap up the resume

Regardless of what format you choose, there are important elements to make sure you’ve hit in your resume:

  1. Contact information
  2. Objective (optional)
  3. Skills/certifications
  4. Work history
  5. Education

How you structure those is largely up to you—you want your strongest points to show clearly and concisely, so that the reader can identify those qualities up front. If you wait until the interview to show off your skills, for example, you might never get to that stage. The best way to figure out what’s best for you is to look at lots of examples, to see what feels right for your level of experience.

It’s important to find a balance between showing a stable work history (or volunteer, internship, or educational history) and emphasizing the skills you’ve learned along the way that will make you a great candidate for this job.

And as always, proofread the heck out of your resume. Have someone else read it after you’ve come up with a draft, so that their fresh eyes might pick up on a typo or weak point that you didn’t see because you’re so familiar with the material.

Go forth and revise, and good luck, current and aspiring administrative assistants!

Interested?  apply here 

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