Being an Administrative Assistant is a little like being a drummer: everybody thinks they know what you do and how to do it… until they take a seat behind the drum kit.
You are the lifeblood of the office, the backbone, the nexus. Without your dedication and commitment to excellence, organizations would not run as smoothly or efficiently.
But how do you showcase all this on a single one-page resume?
Get a leg up on the competition and land an interview with our administrative assistant resume guide.
Now, perhaps more than ever, (assistants) need to understand the forces of change shaping the future and the range of ways these could impact their own roles and shape the challenges and choices facing the organizations and executives they work with.
This guide will go over these tips for an effective administrative assistant resume:
- Carefully plan out what you will include and where
- Choose a layout that matches your experience level and the message you want to send
- Use a header and objective that quickly grabs the reader’s attention and explains who you are
- Use your experience and education sections to show that you’re results driven, specific, and capable of getting results
- Select the soft skills, technical skills, and certifications that best match the job description
The ideal administrative assistant resume outline has:
A great administrative assistant should be a master planner. Just like with most areas, planning out what to include on your resume is a recipe for success.
Here are the resume sections you should consider:
- Administrative Experience
- Soft Skills
- Technical skills
What administrative assistant resume layout should you use?
Even before they read your resume header or your name, the hiring manager or recruiter is going to see the overall layout and design of your resume.
In essence, this is your first impression, so make it a good one.
Here are your resume layouts to consider:
- Traditional layout - This single column layout is ideal for entry-level administrative assistants, as it looks great even with less content on the page.
- >Professional layout- If you’re looking for an admin job at a larger and more conservative corporation, this layout is all about classic style and showing just the right amount of content.
- Simple layout- More senior administrative assistants need to strike a balance between showing off their extensive experience and not overwhelming the reader. This more condensed layout does just that.
- Creative layout - If you’re applying for an admin position at a creative agency, startup, or other company that values creativity, this more modern layout is ideal.
Whichever admin resume layout you choose, just be sure to consider these elements:
- Ensure it shows your most relevant info first (education for entry level administrative assistants, work experience for everyone else).
- It should be easy to read and only include essential information (just imagine how many resumes the recruiter has to read a day).
- More organizations are using ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems), so make sure your format works with them
- ATS also expects PDFs or Doc, so use those formats when sending your resume
Of course, after a recruiter sees your resume’s overall layout, the next place their eye is going to move is to your resume header. That’s why it’s essential you nail it.
What your administrative assistant resume header should include
Strange as it may sound, your header can be a “make or break” spot for an admin resume.
The wrong title or personal information can get you taken out of consideration immediately.
Done right, it can grab the reader’s attention and give them a useful framework for the rest of your resume. Three simple things an administrative assistant resume header needs:
- Your name and certifications - Your name is obvious, but are you a CAP or a CPS? Include that next to your name. It adds a real air of professionalism and shows that you have relevant administrative certifications.
- Your resume title - Here’s where you mention whether you’re a senior admin, a recent graduate, etc. Give the reader a quick idea of who you are to set the tone for the rest of your resume.
- Your LinkedIn profile - There’s no getting away from the fact that LinkedIn is the dominant social network for professionals.
The differences are subtle, but really make a difference. The top example projects confidence and delivers valuable information right upfront while the second example doesn’t tell the reader much of anything useful.
How to make an administrative assistant resume summary or objective
A great administrative assistant resume summary or objective captures the interest of the hiring manager.
It gives them a reason to read the rest of your resume.
An effective admin resume summary or objective is short, sweet, and punchy.
Write a summary that tells your potential employer how your unique skills and experiences will benefit them.
What’s the problem? This resume summary highlights generic skills and uses empty buzzwords. It also doesn’t tell the reader much about your professional experience and the value you can bring to the role and the company.
An administrative assistant resume objective should
- Be concise and straightforward
- Summarise your professional experience in the field
- Highlight key admin skills and competencies
- Showcase results and numbers wherever possible
What’s the best way to add your administrative assistant experience to your resume?
The way you present your administrative assistant experience is essential to your success.
In the sea of resumes, the hiring manager will only take one quick look at your experience.
If they’re not convinced by what they see, your resume will likely end up in the trash.
So, do not simply list your day-to-day responsibilities and duties. Be selective when choosing which responsibilities to include. List only those that meet the requirements stated in the job you are applying for.
Administrative assistant resume experience examples
- Used Typeform, Zapier, and Trello to create an integrated system for tracking incoming job applications, cutting the time required to do this by 4 hours per week.
- Planned 3 team retreats for 25 participants including logistics, hotels, and events. These retreats had an average of 92% satisfaction.
- Tracked incoming job applications
- Planned team retreats
Notice how these two examples are talking about the same exact position, but the effect is completely different. That’s the power of listing your experience in a way that’s specific and focused on impact.
Here are practical tips to make the work experience stand out on your admin resume:
- List your most recent work experience first.
- Use bullet points to increase readability.
- Start each bullet point off with an action verb that will liven up this section (e.g. spearheaded, transformed, increased).
- Add quantifiable results and accomplishments, if possible (e.g. “Liaised with finance and accounting departments to develop an organizational policy saving the company $10,000 per quarter by identifying three redundant areas of spending.”)
What about creating an administrative assistant resume if I have no experience?
You’re applying for an admin job, but you’re a recent grad and/or you have no experience in the field?
If you have little to no work experience, then the key is to focus on your hard and soft skills.
The experience that can be applied to an admin role can come from part-time jobs, internships, service learning, volunteer work, class projects, clubs/student organizations, memberships, leadership experiences, hobbies, and other activities.
For example, have you ever (at school, club, or elsewhere):
- Coordinated an event where you had to synchronize multiple schedules?
- Juggled multiple responsibilities to the satisfaction of relevant stakeholders?
- Handled an emergency/pressing situation successfully?
- Performed typing, filing, and record-keeping tasks?
If yes, make sure you emphasize those in your administrative assistant resume.
What should an ideal administrative assistant resume education section look like?
Recruiters and hiring managers shouldn’t have to hunt for your education credentials.
Most HR professionals suggest starting a resume with work experience and then adding in the education section.
However, if you recently graduated, it’s acceptable to start your resume with the education section as it’s going to be more relevant than your experience.
Start the education section by listing your most relevant recent degree first. Include the name of the school, the school location, and the degree obtained in each listing. Start with your highest degree, then add all other degrees in reverse-chronological order. If you graduated from college, don’t add in your high school information.
- My thesis was on how management issues contributed to the Fintech company Revolut’s culture and regulatory problems
- Interned as an administrator at a local logistics company
How should you match your administrative assistant resume skills to the job?
Much like with any other job, what an administrative assistant position entails can vary greatly from company to company.
Different responsibilities, different skills, different expectations—no two admin jobs are exactly the same.
This is why it’s vital to tailor your resume for every single job you apply for by matching your skills to the administrative assistant job description.
Review the job description, comb through the company website, and then extract any of the keywords describing skills, qualities, or experiences which the employer has listed as required or preferred.
Build a skills section to make yourself seem like the absolute best fit for the position.
Present the skills you identified in order of their importance to the employer. Point to any positive results or recognition you received while applying that specific skill.
What about administrative assistant resume technical skills?
The job of an administrative assistant is rapidly turning into a role that requires multiple technical skills.
Online sales and marketing, website development and management, online customer service and other online tasks are becoming the norm.
Here are the technical skills to include in your administrative assistant resume.
- Microsoft Programs: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, SharePoint, Azure
- Accounting & CRM: QuickBooks, Sage 50 Pro Accounting, Oracle PeopleSoft CRM
- Operating Systems: Unix, Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android
- Office Equipment
- Ordering Office Supplies
- Order Processing
- Time & Billing
- Typing from Dictation
- Videoconference Preparation
Focus specifically on technical skills prospective employer cares about most. Hiring managers vary in their priorities, so do your research.
Incorporating the right keywords will optimize your resume for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which employers use to screen job applications.
Being comfortable with the more technical aspects of the administrative assistant role is essential. For example, companies may rely heavily on administrative assistants to format professional-looking presentations, manuals, and newsletters.
What about administrative assistant resume soft skills?
While a lot of career advice out there favors hard skills over soft skills, take that advice with a grain of salt when it comes to administrative assistant resumes.
Organizations increasingly rely on technology to complete tasks like scheduling or filing documents, so the emphasis for administrative assistants is rapidly shifting to acting as the “hidden glue,” the ones who know everything and manage multiple projects and responsibilities.
There are tons of different soft skills that are required or desirable to be a successful administrative assistant.
Soft skills can carry a lot of weight—as long as you have some specific examples to back them up. So, don’t miss out on highlighting them in your resume!
Here are soft skills to include in a winning admin assistant resume.":
- Time Management
- Attention to Detail
- Active Listening
- Customer Service
- Presenting and Public Speaking
- Project Management
- Client Relations
- Office Management
- Training and Supervising
- Event Coordination
- Employee Relations
Every job asks for different soft skills, so always read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer. If possible, back your claims with examples.
How to add skills from an administrative assistant job description
The most effective admin resumes are tailored to the job.
Let’s see exactly how that’s done, starting with a real administrative assistant job description from an international charity:
“The Administrative Assistant for TVAP works with the TVAP Coordinator to [[coordinate and implement community outreach efforts]], [[expand client resources]], and [[assist with administrative tasks]]. The position provides referral resources and support to [[survivors of trafficking]] and works with the TVAP Coordinator to [[ensure]] all program, agency, and grant [[standards and requirements are met]].”
Let’s see how those highlighted elements should be reflected in a resume applying for this position:
- [[Coordinate and implement community outreach efforts]] (Mention experience managing things, this could be anything from running a club to being a manager at a restaurant. Any community outreach experience would also obviously be helpful.)
- [[expand client resources]] (This requirement is a bit vague. One solution to that could be to email them for clarification about this element of the role, showing that you’re proactive.)
- [[assist with administrative tasks]] (While the examples above require you to show that you can manage yourself independently, this one requires you to show that you can work well alongside or under someone else. Try to include examples where you effectively worked on a team.)
- [[survivors of trafficking]] (As you’ll be working with this group, any experience writing about or working with similar groups would be great to mention.)
- [[Ensure… standards and requirements are met]] (Here you’re back to showing that you can work well independently)
As you can see, like most administrative assistant positions, this job requires you to show both that you can take direction and be independent. If your resume goes too far in either direction, that could get you taken out of consideration. So, be careful to balance them.
The top 10 certifications you can include on your administrative assistant resume
Certifications can be that stamp of quality that your administrative assistant resume is missing. They demonstrate your commitment to continued learning and professional development.
Certifications can also set you apart from the competition and keep you valuable and marketable in the event of a market downturn.
Top certifications to include on an admin assistant resume
- The Certified Professional Secretary
- Certified Administrative Professional
- Outlook 2016: Core Communication, Collaboration, and Email Skills
- Excel 2016: Core Data Analysis, Manipulation, and Presentation
- Certified Associate in Project Management
- Fundamental Payroll Certification
- Office Management Professional
- RAP Registered Administrative Professional
- Certified Administration and Office Management Professional
- Certified Office Administrator/Certified Business Administrator
Choose certifications from recognized industry leaders and those certifications that contain relevant keywords such as “administrative” or “management” in the title.
Be prepared to show how the certification helped or will help you achieve results in your administrative assistant role.
How to Use References to Make the Best Administrative Assistant Resume
So many of the critical skills for an administrative assistant are subjective. Do you take directions well? Are you independently minded and self reliant? References can be a good way to demonstrate that you actually have the qualities an employer is looking for.
To make them more effective, try mentioning the skills a particular reference can vouch for. For example, “Alex Karlson was my manager at Fairfax Logistics and can vouch for my ability to take directions and work independently.”
Other sections to consider
Consider adding a ‘Testimonials’ section to your administrative assistant resume. Testimonials add credibility and validate your accomplishments, skills, and areas of expertise.
Choose relevant individuals (e.g. those you've worked with, worked for, or customers.) Look for someone whose opinion would carry some weight.
Extract the strongest quotes from performance appraisals, snippets from reference letters, and even informal emails complimenting your work performance. Always ask for permission from individuals in question before doing so.
How to include interests on an administrative assistant resume
“No one cares about your hobbies and interests,” said hundreds of career experts online.
However, hear us out.
Hobbies and interests might be the thing that will catch your prospective employers' attention and help you stand out in a sea of applicants. Of course, whether you include this section in your resume will depend a lot on where you’re applying to - a young hip startup or an accounting firm.
Research your prospective employer. Look at the job description, their website, their social media profiles. Would they find a unique hobbies and interests section on your resume valuable?
Choose which hobbies and interests you include carefully. For example, competing in chess could highlight your skills in strategy and problem-solving; volunteering at the local animal shelter could show commitment and dedication, and playing basketball could showcase teamwork skills.
In summary, what makes an administrative assistant resume effective?
- Format your resume for success by leaving enough white space in, using bullet points, and staying clear from fancy fonts.
- Keep your layout organized, with clear breaks between sections and easy-to-find information, and choose the right layout for you.
- Emphasizing both soft skills and hard skills, and make sure you match them to the job posting.
- Focus on the results and impact of your work in the past and how it saved money, increased efficiency, or otherwise improved the business.
- Fill the skills section with skills that are required or relevant to the position, adding examples where possible.