An administrative assistant helps other people who are making important decisions by answering emails, writing down meeting notes, and offering digital and physical communications services. Read our guide to creating a good resume for this job, and you are bound to learn more about the position itself, and how to secure one of these roles. Let’s start with an overview of the three different resume formats:
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Job Duties of Administrative Assistants
Administrative assistants perform both clerical and administrative duties. All should be well-versed in everyday organizational and management tasks, such as writing emails in bulk. But industry organizations such as the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) say administrative assistant job duties vary according to job title, experience and industry-specific needs.
The primary duties of an administrative assistant include:
Responding to calls and messages.
Handling physical packages, including knowing about private and public parcel requirements.
Preparing, editing, and generating company documents and reports.
Maintaining databases and filing systems for official records in digital and paper formats.
Preparing outbound documents, including letters and financial invoices.
Scheduling appointments and updating event calendars.
Arranging staff meetings and organizing events.
Taking notes and minutes in meetings.
Organizing staff travel arrangements.
Suggesting ways to improve administrative processes.
Administrative Assistant Median Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an administrative assistant’s median salary across all specialties is $39,850 a year. Career growth depends on your job specialty and sometimes on the industry. Administrative assistants that work for tech firms like Uber, for example, tend to make more money than others in different sectors.
Top Skills for Administrative Assistants
To make sure you will get a call back from a potential employer, administrative assistant applicants should read the job description meticulously and then match their skills to the ones required, and often explicitly stated, in the job listing.
We’ve listed the top-six skills for this job. They are:
- Excellent documentation smarts: Administrative assistants must keep files, manage databases, and schedule meetings. They are also required to track and manage office expenses through spreadsheets or other expense-tracking software. Having excellent organizational and documentation skills is, therefore, a considerable priority.
- Professional communication: Writing letters, memos and emails to communicate with employees and customers is a regular part of the job. With the increase of audio technology use like iMessage, you will also need to know how to communicate orally properly. So having good grammar and maintaining a professional tone in communication is essential. For example, being courteous and enunciating words will positively impact all staff, clients and customers.
- Negotiation: Communicating with clients to ensure a favorable outcome is also expected of administrative assistants. For example, you may have to gather food for a future week of cultural celebrations while doing it at a fair price. That means you have to compare and contrast different types of foods for their quality and value and then help decide. This example may seem like a minor point in a more significant, better-financed operation but increasing profitability while maintaining excellent client relations is always needed.
- Clerical proficiency: Knowing how to do a task correctly in an office requires a lot of learning and practice, no matter how simple it seems. For example, one of the necessary but vital administrative assistants’ tasks is to prepare and offer sign-up sheets for new and returning patients in medical offices. If they fail to provide this sheet, the medical doctors cannot legally see any patients, causing backups and potentially medically problematic issues.
- Business acumen: Planning, resource allocation, and coordination of people within the organization requires an understanding of business and management principles. Knowledge of these will also help in providing suggestions to improve administrative processes.
- Technological adaptability: Experience using computer applications for MS Office and other productivity apps is an integral part of the job. Knowing the latest tech helps you effectively multitask and improves the efficiency of the company.
Educational Requirements for Administrative Assistant Jobs
High school diplomaThough some companies will only look for people with high school diplomas, people who don’t have this degree can also get a job as an administrative assistant if they have experience using computer applications like Word, Google Docs and Pages. Most administrative assistants learn on the job quickly (except in the legal and medical industry, which require additional knowledge related to industry-specific terminologies.)
CertificationsThe Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) program, run by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), is specifically tailored for administrative professionals. It requires a fee of about $400 and helps you catch up and get tested on companies’ latest organizational needs. Any professional in the administrative field can enroll, and eligibility depends on a combination of academic qualification and work experience, which you can find out more about on their site. The certificate is valid for three years, and then you need to recertify again through either testing or evidence of continued employment in the profession. People who obtain the CAP certification do earn a special designation to add to their resume or LinkedIn profile, and most people who see this job as a long-term option end up taking it.
The Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE) is another tremendous available program. This one is managed and authorized by the American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP), one of the oldest accreditation standards provided by the U.S. government. The certificate is open to any individual. Unlike the CAP, the PACE certification does not have specific eligibility criteria. The certificate is valid for two years.
Administrative Assistant Resume-Writing Tips
You can write your resume in any way you want, depending on your work experience, work history and specialty. But incorporating the following tips in your resume will enhance the chances of landing your desired interview.
- Start strong with a definitive summary statement Pitch yourself to your potential employer in the first sentence of the resume by showing how they can benefit by hiring you. If you’re a recent graduate and are looking for your first job, include the skills that most closely relate to the job. If you’re an experienced candidate with several years under your belt, go for a professional summary that cites your work specialties and previous work experiences.
- Mention keywords related to the job You have to include keywords related to the skills required for an administrative assistant like “communication,” “organization,” “negotiation,” and “time-management.” Why? Because they help your resume pass the screening through the applicant tracking system (ATS).
- Infuse all your technical and soft skills into it You don’t have to include all your technical and soft skills, but only ones that will help you succeed in landing the job. If you are a new, young candidate, mention skills that helped you complete essential school projects. You can even include skills used in tasks outside of work, like volunteering.
- Highlight your achievements If you’re an experienced professional, highlight your previous achievements through specific data. For example, instead of saying “Contributed towards developing policies for the company’s success,” mention that you ”Helped with policy development which saved thousands of working hours for the company.”
Looking for Cover Letter ideas? See our sample for Professional Administration Assistant cover letter.
What makes you a perfect candidate for an administrative assistant job?
Administrative assistants help coordinate and organize administrative tasks that include clerical duties, negotiating with clients, and managing records. But perhaps the best way to be defined as a perfect candidate is to have specialized knowledge of the industry. If you’ve worked as an assistant in a legal office, say, you are more likely to get another job at another legal office.
How do you acquire the position of an administrative assistant?
The essential educational qualification to become an administrative assistant is a high school diploma from a U.S.-based school, though many will accept other countries’ credentials. Not having a diploma, though, doesn’t exclude you from this job. If you have experience using computer applications or are comfortable with industry-specific terminologies and practices, you may be able to get a job as an administrative assistant. You can learn most of the required skills and techniques through on-the-job training, which might take a few weeks to several months, depending on the industry.
Is an administrative assistant a good career opportunity?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says medical administrative assistants’ employment prospects will increase by 10% from 2019 to 2029. However, overall employment for administrative assistants projects to decline by 9% over the next few years.