Administrative assistants are usually the glue that holds a company together. They are often responsible for making their bosses – and the whole team – look good, usually with little fanfare. They can be assigned a wide variety of tasks ranging from event planning to report generation to presentations and even a bit of mind reading from time to time. While the daily work of an admin may vary from job to job, companies are typically looking for common critical skills and attributes in candidates. So, just what are companies looking for when hiring for an administrative assistant?

Skills To Showcase As An Administrative Assistant Candidate

It should go without saying that you should tailor your resume and cover letter to align with the skills outlined in each job posting you apply to. However, nearly every company will be on the lookout for these valuable skills:

  • Organization: Admins need to be five steps ahead of their boss and the team they support. They are often juggling multiple projects at once. Organizational skills are critical.
  • Attention to detail: Because admins have such vast responsibilities, attention to detail is non-negotiable.
  • Communication skills: Both written and verbal communication skills are important when it comes to understanding tasks, gathering information needed for a project, reporting to supervisors or colleagues, etc.
  • Professionalism: Admins are often the “face” and “voice” of the company for clients, customers and vendors. A professional demeanor is of the utmost importance. Employers want to know you will represent them well.
  • Emotional intelligence: Administrative assistants engage with people all across the organization. It is critical to be able to empathize with people, and to adjust your own emotions and responses appropriately based on the circumstances at hand.
  • Diplomacy: Admins work with people who have big egos, and they are often tasked with telling people things they don’t want to hear. Being able to deliver news effectively without trampling on someone’s feelings is a key attribute many employers look for.
  • Grace under pressure: Administrative assistants spend a lot of time working under tight deadlines and it’s not uncommon to be handed work at the last possible minute. Employers need admins who won’t crack under extreme pressure.
  • Technical acumen: Admins have to be able to use word processing software and spreadsheet software without needing too much direction. They may also need to be familiar with presentation software, AV equipment, graphic design programs, social media and more, depending on the responsibilities of the job.
  • Growth over time: Employers expect their administrative assistants to be able to handle core tasks, but they are also looking for people who like to try new things, learn new skills and take on more responsibility over time.
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