Administrative Resume: 6 Ways to Make Yours Shine

A job candidate passing a resume to the hiring manager.

A single job posting can unleash a flood of resumes to the hiring manager — alongside yours. If you really want a new administrative position, you have to make sure your submission floats to the top.

Hiring managers have to make lots of split-second decisions as they wade through all those applications. To distinguish yourself, you need to make a good first impression.

But that's not all. The rest of your administrative resume needs to back up that positive first impression if you expect to get an interview.

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It's not enough just to dust off that old resume and add a line or two about your recent experiences. You need to create a new resume that stands out in a number of aspects. Here are six of them:

1. Start off strong

Reread the job posting to find the top three or four skills or personality traits the company says they're looking for. Then write a few phrases that show how you possess them — and put them right at the top of your resume.

For instance, you might write, “Experienced administrative professional who has earned the Certified Administrative Professional designation. Driven team member with strong Microsoft Office, organizational and communication skills.”

For an executive assistant position, you might write, "A veteran executive assistant with outstanding organizational and communication skills. Five years of experience managing travel, expense reporting, event planning and meeting scheduling for senior executives in a demanding, fast-paced work environment."

2. Show how you've added value

Companies look for administrative professionals who take the initiative and make an impact on the companies where they work. So don't just list activities anyone could predict by reading the job titles on your resume. Work to include specific projects or activities that made you stand out — preferably with quantifiable results.

For example, don't simply say you were responsible for a department's expenses. Instead, say, "Managed annual expense budget, and helped reduce costs by $10,000 annually."

Perhaps you trained the entire accounting department on a new phone system. You might say, "Trained a staff of 15 accounting professionals on a new phone system and ensured the transition had little impact on team productivity." Specific accomplishments like that can really make you stand out.

3. Use keywords from the job description

Many companies use software that screens resumes for key words and phrases (the same is true for cover letters). Try to use language pulled directly from the job posting (though only if it accurately reflects your background, of course).

For instance, if an employer is looking for someone to handle multiple phone lines, use the phrase “multiple phone lines” in your document rather than simply stating you “answered phone calls.” If you're seeking employment as an executive assistant, repeat in your resume key words that the ad lists, which typically include "event planning," "organizing planning," "schedule management," and "presentations."

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4. Highlight your technology skills

Technology continues to transform the workplace and management wants administrative professionals who have either mastered specific technologies, or have demonstrated the ability to do so with similar tools.

If the job description mentions technologies you’ve worked with, you, too, should mention them by name, whether it's Microsoft Office or any other specific productivity, social media, enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) software. Consider including a special section listing all of the applications you have worked with in the past, with which you’ve achieved proficiency or mastery.

5. Tailor your resume to each job

Gone are the days when you went to Kinko’s and had 100 copies of the same resume printed on expensive paper. Sending the same version of your resume to every employer won’t cut it today. Sure, many of the essentials will not change for each job ad. But you should still customize each resume to highlight the specific skills and experience the company is looking for.

For one prospective employer, you might emphasize your certifications, strong presentation skills and PowerPoint expertise. For another you may want to play up your self-directed nature and your proven ability to work effectively with minimal supervision.

6. Ensure your resume is free of errors

Accuracy is a key job skill for administrative professionals. If you turn in a resume with typos, formatting issues or grammatical errors, you’re sending a red flag to potential employers.

Take time to review, and review again. When you've gotten your resume as clean as you can, ask someone with an eye for grammar, punctuation and spelling to review it.

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More resources for crafting a winning administrative assistant resume:

This post has been updated with more current information. It originally appeared on 3/3/14.

Tags: Resume