Resumes for Administrative Assistants

The job market continues to be competitive, so creating a resume that grabs the reader's attention is important.  Administrative assistant and executive secretary jobs are no exception; it's important their resumes are professionally written too.

This article is going to begin with a review of the three most common resume styles in use today, and how they apply to administrative assistant positions.  Next up, we're going to talk briefly about some of the skills a secretary might possess, and how those skills should be written on the resume.  Then this article will finish up with an example that can be downloaded.

Resume Writing Process

Before starting to write a resume, the job applicant needs to choose the appropriate format, or style, to use.  It's important to pick a format that highlights the applicant's strengths, while not drawing attention to any weaknesses.

Generally, there are three resume formats from which to choose:  chronological, functional, and the combination style.


Although it's the most common format in circulation today, the chronological resume is not a great choice for everyone.  Since this format requires the writer to list their work history in reverse chronological order, it's a good choice for individuals that have a great deal of work experience.

If a job applicant is new to the workplace, the chronological resume will highlight the lack of experience.  For that very reason, relatively inexperienced secretaries or administrative assistants should use an alternate format.


The functional resume is a great choice for relatively inexperienced workers.  This includes individuals that are just entering the workplace for the first time, or more experienced workers that are making a career change.

A functional resume emphasizes what the person has learned and / or the skills they possess, which is a good strategy if the writer doesn't have a lot of prior, or related, work experiences.  By listing the knowledge gained first, rather than places of employment or job titles held in the past, this resume format helps the reader to better understand the value the applicant can bring to their organization.

The down side of using a functional resume is that readers often get suspicious if they don't have a good understanding of where someone has worked in the past.  That's okay, because if that question is asked during a job interview, the candidate can be prepared with a great explanation.

Combination Style

Perhaps the most marketable, and under-utilized, resume format in use today is the combination style.  This format first highlights all of the important secretarial skills the writer possesses, and then finishes up by listing all of the companies worked for in the past.

The combination resume is the best choice for anyone with a lot of administrative assistant experience.  Additional information on this topic can be found in the following article:  Resume Writing Samples.  Here the reader will find more detailed descriptions of each resume type, as well as examples to download.

Highlighting Secretarial Skills

Most people tend to be modest about their experiences or knowledge.  They're inclined to down-play what they know or have learned through the years.  A resume is not a good place to be modest.

In fact, a resume is the ideal place to put someone's creative side to the test.  Carefully chosen words can often mean the difference between being filtered-out from consideration and being called in for a job interview.

Wording Examples

The following table demonstrates the difference between the wording found on a great resume, and one that is likely to wind up in the circular file.  These examples illustrate this concept, and can be used to formulate new ideas too.

Resume Wording Wording that Gets Noticed
Orders food for meetings Skilled at meeting logistics
Sending emails Business communication
Arranges meetings Scheduling expertise
Good personal computer skills Integrated computer applications

Sample Resumes

All of the above ideas are illustrated in the administrative assistant / executive secretary sample provided.  The example is in the combination resume format, so that it's possible to observe the elements of all three styles.

Users can download the example here:  Sample Administrative Assistant Resume.

About the Author - Resumes for Administrative Assistants - Copyright © 2007 - 2016 (Last Reviewed on March 1, 2016)