Friendly. Organized. Detail-oriented. These are just some of the traits that employers look for when hiring an administrative assistant. But what resume advice should you follow to best showcase the essential skills and education you possess — and help set you apart from the competition? Read on for resume tips tailored just for administrative assistants.
Find your perfect resume format
Many job applicants use a chronological resume format to detail their employment history, listing their most recent position first and working their way back in time. This is effective if you've held positions of gradually increasing responsibility.
But, if you're a recent graduate, lack extensive experience as an administrative assistant or want to play up your strengths as they directly relate to the job, you may wish to consider a functional resume format that's organized by achievements, skills and other compelling aspects of your work history versus dates of employment.
A third option is a mix of the two types of resumes mentioned above. A combination resume presents your skills and career experience first, followed by your employment history, listed in chronological order. This resume format allows you to highlight qualifications and achievements that are relevant to the job you're applying for and provide the work history to support those points.
Link to your work
When you're submitting your application online, through a job board or by email, it's wise to use an internet-friendly resume format that includes embedded links to work samples or more detailed information about your experience as an administrative assistant. Not only is this a simple way to beef up your resume without making it too lengthy or cumbersome for a hiring manager to read, it also gives the employer an indication that you are tech-savvy.
Keep it simple
Though video, infographic and even 140-characters-or-less Twitter resumes may seem trendy, don't get too creative. It's important to tailor your application to the kind of position you're vying for. A newer or totally out-there resume format is better suited to a job that requires a high level of ingenuity. Some hiring managers won't be able to interpret, or simply won't accept, such an unconventional application. And most hiring managers no longer expect to see a career objective at the top of every resume.
Since administrative assistants are required to be excellent communicators, highly organized and very detail-oriented, consider using a simpler, more traditional resume format that lets you demonstrate your ability to write and communicate clearly.
Most resume formats include a well-crafted overview of your most impressive qualifications at the top of the page. In creating this professional summary, consider what makes you a shoo-in for the role. For example: "Experienced administrative assistant who has earned the Certified Administrative Professional designation. Possess strong Microsoft Office, organizational and communication skills." This type of summary will grab a hiring manager's attention at first glance and compel him or her to read on.
Pepper in the keywords
Many employers use filtering software that scans resumes for keywords to evaluate how closely they match the preferred skills and experience. To minimize your chances of being filtered out, format your resume using words and phrases from the job posting that accurately reflect your background. For example, if an employer is looking for someone who can handle multiple phone lines, use the phrase "multiple phone lines" in your document rather than stating you "answered phone calls." Your resume will have a better chance of getting noticed and, if hired, you'll be working at a job for which you're well-suited and will enjoy.
Make it personal
Don't send the same resume and cover letter to every opening. You should customize your resume's format and content to zero in on what's required for the role. So highlight your PowerPoint prowess if the job description states that the new hire will be expected to support executives who regularly give presentations, or showcase your internet research skills for a position that requests such expertise. For employers seeking assistants with a wide range of experience, emphasize any above-and-beyond skills, such as experience with accounting software or database management. The extra effort it takes to tailor your resume can shorten the amount of time you spend looking for a job.
Remember, no resume format will get you a job if you turn in a document that's full of typos, dreadful design or grammatical errors. Accuracy is a key job skill for administrative assistants, and if you can't get your resume right, you're sending an automatic red flag to employers. Be honest, be succinct and avoid mistakes — and good luck.