What Are Companies Looking For When Hiring An Administrative Assistant?

smiling administrative assistance at laptop with executive pointing at screen

Administrative Assistants: Helping everyone else survive their workday, every day.

You are the unsung heroes of any organization, ensuring the smooth operation of daily tasks. You play a vital role in making your superiors and teams shine, often behind-the-scenes. So, if you’re considering a new job, it’s crucial to understand what companies are seeking when they are hiring administrative assistants.

As most successful office professionals know, your responsibilities can range from phones and presentations to event planning and report generation…even managing office supplies and coordinating travel arrangements. While the responsibilities can vary, companies do seek specific skill sets and admin experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned executive secretary applying for a new role for the first time in ten years, or you’re looking to land an entry-level office assistant job for the first time, you’ll want to make sure your resume stands out. Here’s how.

Top Skills To Highlight On Your Administrative Resume

As administrative and clerical staffing experts, we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of admin resumes and talked to thousands of companies who are hiring. We’ve found that there are fundamental skills and experiences that virtually every company seeks in their office employees.

Tailoring your resume and cover letter to match each job posting is crucial, but demonstrating the following desired skills and experience is just as important.


Administrative professionals must stay several steps ahead of their superiors and the teams they support. Your role often involves juggling multiple projects simultaneously, so highlighting your organizational skills is absolutely critical.

Resume Example: “Managed calendars, appointments, and travel arrangements for five senior executives, contributing to the seamless operation of the department.”


Given the diverse and extensive responsibilities of administrative assistants, attention-to-detail is key to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. For example, you may proofread and edit reports, presentations, and correspondence to maintain high levels of accuracy and professionalism on a regular basis.

Resume Example: “Reviewed and edited critical documents, ensuring error-free and polished materials for internal and external stakeholders.”

Communication Skills

Effective written and verbal communication skills are vital for office and administrative assistant roles. It’s all about being able to understand tasks, gather project info, and talk to your team or bosses.

Resume Example: “Designed a streamlined information-sharing process using Slack and Wrike project management. This significantly improved collaboration and productivity among cross-functional teams.”


Administrative and office assistants often serve as the first point of contact for clients, customers, and vendors. Maintaining a professional demeanor is of the utmost importance, as employers expect their administrative staff to represent the company’s image and brand.

Resume Example: “Consistently upheld a friendly, professional image for clients and stakeholders. Awarded “Outstanding Customer Service” multiple years in a row.”

Emotional Intelligence

Administrative assistants usually interact with individuals at all levels of an organization, making emotional intelligence a valuable soft-skill. You need the ability to connect and empathize with others, maintain confidentiality when appropriate, and adjust your emotions and responses based on the situation at hand.

Resume Example: “Fostered a supportive and inclusive workplace by building a rapport with colleagues, active listening, and planning diverse and culturally-sensitive events.”


Office assistants often work with individuals who have strong personalities and are tasked with delivering news that may not be well-received. The ability to convey information effectively without causing hurt feelings is a highly sought-after trait.

Resume Example: “Delivered constructive feedback and difficult messages to team members and superiors, ensuring respectful and productive dialogue.”

Grace Under Pressure

Administrative Assistants frequently work under tight deadlines and may receive last-minute assignments. Employers are looking for individuals who can handle high-pressure situations and adapt to changing priorities without getting overwhelmed.

Resume Example: “Consistently maintained composure and problem-solving abilities in a fast-paced and busy office. Successfully delivered critical projects on time despite an environment with frequent customer interruptions.”

Technical Acumen

Administrative and Office Assistants need to possess technical skills, and in the modern workplace, this includes the ability to work with various digital tools and systems. Depending on your job responsibilities and company size, you may need familiarity with:

  • Software: From word-processing and data management (Microsoft Word and Excel or Google Docs and Sheets), to presentations (Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides). Industry-specific software also falls into this category, like HRIS systems, Quickbooks, or CRM platforms.
  • Audio-Visual Devices: With the integration of technology in meetings and presentations, familiarity with audio-visual tools is a must. This includes video conferencing software (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex). Equipment like microphones, sound systems, and casting from laptops to tvs also fall to administrative assistants to operate and troubleshoot.
  • Graphic Design Tools: Some office positions may require basic graphic design skills for creating visually appealing documents or presentations. Familiarity with tools like Adobe Creative Suite or easy-to-use Canva can be a valuable asset.
  • Social Media Management: Some administrative assistants are tasked with managing their organization’s social media accounts. Proficiency in social media platforms and analytics is a relevant skill to hone.
  • AI Integration: Understanding how to use AI-powered software for things like task automation, project management, and transcription is valuable administrative experience to include on your resume. Platforms like ChatGPT, Fireflies, Wrike, and Zapier are widely used to enhance productivity and efficiency.

Resume Example: “Managed and optimized the use of Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams, integrated AI-powered scheduling tools, and stayed current with emerging technologies that enhanced productivity and workflow.”

Personal and Professional Growth

Companies seek administrative assistants who are not only capable of handling core tasks but also exhibit a willingness to learn, adapt, and expand their scope of responsibilities as they grow and contribute to the team’s overall capabilities. Did you complete any LinkedIn certifications? What about that time you took charge of a new workplace flexibility initiative? Include it in your resume!

Resume Example: “Proactively sought additional training in project management and automation, earning two new certifications within six months. Using these new skills, I helped establish a new workplace flexibility initiative that minimized administrative overhead and increased employee satisfaction by 42%.”

Make Your Admin Experience Work for You

When it comes to hiring administrative assistants, companies look for a well-rounded skill set that includes:

  • organizational prowess
  • attention-to-detail
  • effective communication
  • professionalism
  • emotional intelligence
  • diplomacy
  • composure
  • technical proficiency
  • a commitment to growth

As you consider the next steps in your office career, make sure your resume stands out from the rest. Don’t just list your job history; show them how your administrative experience makes you a dynamic, adaptable, and essential part of an organization’s success.

By updating your resume with the valuable information provided here, you’ll undoubtedly shine in a competitive job market.

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