Organized. Detail-oriented. Efficient. Friendly. These are just some of the skills and traits that employers look for when hiring an administrative assistant. But how do you get this across when applying for a job? Here are six tips for creating a winning administrative assistant resume:

1. Format for success

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.

However, 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 open job, consider writing a functional resume format — one that's organized by skills, achievements and other compelling aspects of your work history versus dates of employment.

A third option is a mix of the two types of resume formats mentioned above. A combination resume presents a summary of your key skills and qualifications first, followed by a chronological list of your employment history. This resume format allows you to highlight qualifications and achievements relevant to the job you're applying for along with the work history to support them.


2. Start strong

If you lead with a professional summary, include what makes you a shoo-in for the role by highlighting that you have all the requirements listed in the job description. With just a sentence or two, the right summary will grab the attention of hiring managers at first glance and encourage them to read on. Here are a few samples:

  • "Versatile administrative assistant who has earned the certified administrative professional (CAP) designation and is technologically savvy."
  • "Recent college graduate with exceptional organizational and research abilities, database management experience, and strong customer service skills."
  • "Efficient and goal-oriented problem solver with advanced expertise in Microsoft Office and QuickBooks."
  • "Administrative assistant with five years of experience, strong written and oral communication skills, and proven strategic-planning capabilities."

3. Keep it simple

Though video and infographic resumes may seem trendy, your goal should be to submit an intuitive document that doesn’t require hiring managers to do any extra work. Because administrative assistants are required to be excellent communicators, highly organized and very detail-oriented, make sure your resume demonstrates your ability to write and communicate clearly and succinctly.

4. Pepper in the keywords

Many employers use filtering software that scan resumes for keywords to evaluate how closely your skills and experience match what they’re seeking. To minimize your chances of being filtered out, format your administrative assistant resume using words and phrases from the job posting — but only if they accurately reflect your background and experience, of course.

Be exact. For example, if the job ad states that the company needs someone who can handle multiple phone lines, use the phrase "multiple phone lines" in your document rather than how you "answered phone calls." If the job posting lists “comprehensive knowledge of Excel” as a software requirement, you should mention Excel, rather than just “mastery of spreadsheets.”

5. Make it personal

Don't use the same resume and cover letter for every employer. Instead, customize your resume to zero in on what's required for the role. For instance, highlight your PowerPoint prowess if the job description states that the new hire will be expected to support executives who regularly give presentations. Similarly, reference your knowledge of video conferencing tools and interpersonal skills if the executives are managing remote teams. Emphasize your experience working with outside vendors or office managers if the role includes supporting office reopenings. The extra effort it takes to tailor your administrative assistant resume can shorten the amount of time you spend looking for a job.

6. Ensure accuracy

Finally, no resume will get you a job if it’s full of typos 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 warning to employers. Be honest, be clear and avoid mistakes — and good luck.