Resumes & Cover Letters

8 Must-Have Administrative Assistant Skills

November 25, 2020

Many companies in different industries seek candidates with administrative assistant skills. Administrative assistants are a foundational part of any workplace, helping others to succeed in the job. The skills needed to manage administrative tasks take practice and development. In this article, you will learn eight tips to help you identify the skills you need and how to highlight them on your resume. 

Read more: Learn About Being an Administrative Assistant

What are administrative assistant skills?

Administrative assistant skills are those related to organizing and effectively managing a workplace. Administrative assistants are in critical support roles, helping to maintain contact lists, communicate on behalf of executives, schedule meetings and more. They often work with executives, managers, and other coworkers to provide them with the resources needed to complete their duties. Whether you are beginning your first job search or making a career change, a strong grasp of administrative skills can help you excel in a support role. 

Examples of administrative assistant skills

Administrative assistant skills may vary depending on the industry, but the following or the most important abilities to develop:

  1. Written communication 
  2. Verbal communication
  3. Organization
  4. Time management
  5. Attention to detail
  6. Problem-solving
  7. Technology
  8. Independence 

1. Written communication

Communication is a much-needed skill in almost any field. These skills include everything from composing emails to writing social media posts for a company. Strong written communication skills improve the quality of office correspondence and can be especially helpful when you need to draft letters, speeches or memos for an executive. Examples of written communication skills include proper grammar and professional tone when writing email and workplace messages among other formats.

Read more: Communication Skills: Definition and Examples

2. Verbal communication 

Administrative assistants may support an entire workplace and should be able to correspond with coworkers and managers regularly. Verbal skills are helpful when having conversations on the phone or in person, when participating in meetings and when conversing with clients. Examples of verbal communication skills include listening and responding appropriately and using the right tone for the situation. 

Read more: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

3. Organization

Organization is important in the workplace, especially for assistants who work in office settings. Administrative assistants often manage many tasks and pieces of information at the same time. Administrative assistants who directly support an executive should be able to maintain their calendar as well. Many administrative assistants also handle a file management system, either physically or on a computer, and should be adept at storing and retrieving files. Examples of organizational skills include planning, delegation and office management.

4. Time management

Time management is the ability to be punctual and to schedule your time such that you can complete all assigned tasks. Administrative assistants typically have full to-do lists and must be able to effectively manage their time to finish their duties by a set deadline. Those with strong time-management skills are punctual, meet deadlines, readjust priorities when unforeseen issues arise and plan their days for productivity.  

Read more: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

5. Attention to detail

With careful attention to detail, you can notice missed signatures, complete job assignments on time and write professional emails with no spelling errors. Office communications are sometimes sensitive, needing close attention to email addresses and information. When completing data-entry duties, administrative assistants should be able to submit the correct information repeatedly. An administrative assistant can use attention to detail in reviewing correspondence, submitting reports and completing everyday duties.

6. Problem-solving

When schedules change or new challenges arise, the ability to problem-solve is invaluable. A busy administrative assistant is likely to encounter unexpected obstacles. If they can think quickly, be flexible and think creatively, they can solve problems with ease. A good problem-solver is also open to asking for help and collaborating with team members to overcome challenges. Discussion, compromise and resilience are invaluable parts of problem-solving. 

Read more: Problem-Solving Skills: Definition and Examples

7. Technology

Anyone who performs most of their work on a computer is likely to need experience and skills related to technology. Administrative assistants should be comfortable with Microsoft Office software or similar suites, including word processors, spreadsheets and tools for creating publications. Additionally, they may need to send faxes, scan documents or input data into a customer relationship management system. Comfort with browsers, software and operating systems will help you be successful in the workplace as an administrative assistant.

Read more: Computer Skills: Definition and Examples

8. Independence

This skill is also known as the ability to work autonomously. You should be able to process information, follow instructions and complete tasks with minimal supervision. Administrative assistants may be the only team member who supports a workplace, so being independent helps them perform tasks correctly with little assistance.

Sample administrative assistant skills resume section

With the use of just a few keywords and phrases, you will be able to highlight valuable administrative assistant skills on your resume. 

Administrative assistant skills in a resume skills section

On your resume, you will likely want to include a skills section that includes various hard and soft skills. These can be broad while also relating to the job to which you are applying. Be sure to include any certifications you’ve earned, skill-specific classes you’ve taken or technology tools you’ve mastered. 

Read through the job description to learn what skills the employer is looking for in a candidate. Write down the keywords that match your skillset and include them in your skills section. 

Your skills section could look like this:

Technical skills:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook
  • Salesforce
  • WordPress
  • Search engine optimization

Additional skills:

  • Filing
  • Problem-solving
  • Written communication
  • Willingness to learn

Administrative assistant skills in a resume work experience section

The work experience section allows you to highlight how you’ve utilized administrative assistant skills in the workplace. List all of your most relevant work experiences, beginning with your most recent job or volunteer experience. You should focus on your experiences from the last 10 to 15 years. For example, if you’ve been working as an administrative assistant for the last six years, you can focus on all of your experience that relates directly to the open position.

Your work experience section should include the name of the employer, your job title, years of employment and a few bullet points with your strongest and most relevant accomplishments. If you are applying for an administrative assistant job, be sure to include related skills.

An example of a work experience section could be:

North Lake Medical Office
Receptionist | August 2018 – October 2019

  • Answered phones and warmly greeted incoming patients and visitors
  • Coordinated with office staff to effectively manage patient and staff schedules
  • Organized and filed medical records with careful attention to detail