Overview

Starting out in a career as an executive assistant can be a tricky business, as not all businesses choose to have them. Not all executives will have an assistant because at this level a competent sidekick doesn’t come cheap and a good business model will often include scaling back on expenditure. Instead, in an era of increasing technology, managers are finding tools to help them to become ever more self-reliant: online calendars, video conferencing, automated reports, etc.

The good news is, if you are an experienced administrator with a proven track record in taking the lead, providing support and advice as well as taking instructions, you may be ready to advance to the executive level. There are some great opportunities out there, particularly in large organizations with high annual turnovers. As you would imagine, though, the competition is fierce, so you must present yourself as being at the very top of your game.

Your resume will need to shout ‘proactive!’ if you are to get your foot in the door for this role. This is about reflecting the next level of administrative support; not only do you need exceptional IT proficiency and superb administrative skills – you need to be able to give evidence of anticipating the need to increase efficiencies and of going the extra mile to understand and support the objectives, opportunities, and profitability of your chosen business.

Pay

According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014 the average salary for an executive assistant was around $51,270. This is above average. Salaries of the highest earners were around $77,150. Most the most highest-paid executive assistants worked in large cities on the coast like San Francisco, LA and New York. With the continuing growth of large multinational corporations through 2017, it is only logical that the demand for executive assistance will increase.

Executive Assistant Median Pay

Median Pay$36,500 per year
$17.55 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
High School Diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related OccupationOften but not required
On-the -job TrainingCommon
Number of Current Jobs3,976,800
Job Outlook 2014-2024+3%
Employment Change, 2014-2024+118,000
Source: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics

The above information is from 2014 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which only does their survey every handful of years, so the actual averages for the current year will be slightly above what is stated in the table above.

Industry Forecast

According to US news.com, executive assistant positions are only forecast to grow further. With an unemployment rate average of only 3.8%, employment for administrative assistants is far above national averages. With job satisfaction levels higher than above average, including upward mobility averages and average stress levels being rated above industry averages, the outlook is pretty good.

Types of Executive Assistants

Administrative assistants can be classified in many different ways because administrative tasks cover a multitude of business managerial operations and accounting work. Some sub-categories of the administrative assistant category include office managers, event planners, operations managers, accountants, and even, sometimes, maintenance workers. This is truly a diverse profession.

This page is designed for all types of assistance, whether you are a receptionist and office manage, an executive assistant, a personal assistant, team secretary, record officer, or an office assistant. No matter what  your title is, the resume writing tips on this page will help you to write a more effective resume for whatever type of assistant job you are applying for.

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How To Write Your Own

The executive assistant industry is a very professional one. Where in some industries like the arts, the liberal sciences, mass communication, etc., it may be acceptable to get a little creative with your resume,  for executive class professions, resumes must always be written with the most standardized and businesslike wording, font and style selection. Your resume is not a place to show your quirky side. Save that for the interview.

Reflect the Job Description

The best way to impress HR with your resume is to tailor your resume to the job that you are actually applying for. So, for example, if you are applying for a senior level assistant role for J.P. Morgan Chase, you simply will want to reflect the wording and the skills listed in the job posting in your resume so that you appear to be a perfect match for the position.

Besides wording, you want to choose a font that is professional, common, and respectable. This includes Arial and Times New Roman fonts. There are many different ways you can write your resume, including chronological, reverse chronological, functional, or combination formats. The style you choose will depend on your career level, the level of the position you are applying for and your skills and education.

Make your assistant resume unique. Reflect your willingness to serve and better management and the company as a whole. Show that you can anticipate the needs of executive officers in the company, as a whole, before they even know what they need. An assistant is more than just an assistant; he or she is a second set of eyes, a second set of ears, and the second brain to help the company grow and move forward.

This does not mean all you do is take notes and schedule appointments, even though organizational skills are very important. You need to show that you are capable of independent thought and capable of solving complex problems. You must show that you are willing to push back, if needed, as no good executive wants a simple yes man or yes woman following them around all day.

Get Industry Specific

Do not forget to include industry-specific skills you may have, like accounting, task management, organizational communication, and so on. These are the types of skills that are highly sought-after in executive level assistant positions of all types.

Also, while many people include how fast that they can type in words per minute stats on their resume, unnecessarily, this is one profession where including that statistic is actually useful, as executive level assistants are often required to type quickly, accurately, and reliably.

Sample Bullet Points

Below are a few sample bullet points that you can use for inspiration when writing your own resume. You should not copy these bullet points exactly as these were written as a guideline. Your experiences and your skills are what make you unique as an applicant and you will want those to shine through when writing your resume.

Sample Executive Assistant Bullet Points

Task
Prepare invoices, reports, memos, letters, financial statements, and other documents, using word processing, spreadsheet, database, or presentation software.
Answer phone calls and direct calls to appropriate parties or take messages.
Conduct research, compile data, and prepare papers for consideration and presentation by executives, committees, and boards of directors.
Attend meetings to record minutes.
Greet visitors and determine whether they should be given access to specific individuals.
Read and analyze incoming memos, submissions, and reports to determine their significance and plan their distribution.
Perform general office duties, such as ordering supplies, maintaining records management database systems, and performing basic bookkeeping work.
File and retrieve corporate documents, records, and reports.
Open, sort, and distribute incoming correspondence, including faxes and email.
Make travel arrangements for executives.
Prepare responses to correspondence containing routine inquiries.
Prepare agendas and make arrangements, such as coordinating catering for luncheons, for committee, board, and other meetings.
Coordinate and direct office services, such as records, departmental finances, budget preparation, personnel issues, and housekeeping, to aid executives.
Provide clerical support to other departments.
Manage and maintain executives' schedules.
Process payroll information.
Compile, transcribe, and distribute minutes of meetings.
Set up and oversee administrative policies and procedures for offices or organizations.
Supervise and train other clerical staff and arrange for employee training by scheduling training or organizing training material.
Interpret administrative and operating policies and procedures for employees.
Meet with individuals, special interest groups, and others on behalf of executives, committees, and boards of directors.
Review operating practices and procedures to determine whether improvements can be made in areas such as workflow, reporting procedures, or expenditures.

Writing Your Career Objective

Career objective, professional profile, professional summary –  these are all types of different ways to open your resume and you can use whichever most suits your experience level skill level and the position you are applying for.

The key to writing an effective career objective or professional summary is being blunt and clearly communicating the single most unique advantage you bring to the company applied to as a candidate.

Try to stay as succinct as possible; that means limiting yourself to only 2 to 3 or maybe 4 sentences, at most. You will want to explain experiences you have had that are relevant to the job you are applying for. This could include years working at a similar corporation or agency, years working in a similar capacity as an assistant to an executive, or if you have just graduated, specific coursework, internships, and projects you have completed that reflect your ability to successfully fulfill the need of the company being applied to.

Additional Skills & Certifications

To really stand out, to make someone believe that you will truly be an asset to the company, you will need to display  unique skills that cannot be found elsewhere. The more uniquely suited for the position, the more the company will want to hire you, and the more salary you can demand. This is simply a matter of supply and demand; there is just not a large enough supply of highly skilled applicants out there.

Some excellent skills that you can include on your resume include things like analytical skills and problem-solving skills and the ability to anticipate problems before they even happen. Of course, these are highly developed interpersonal skills, and they should be accompanied by a wide range of supporting skills like time management skills and organizational skills.

Supplement your interpersonal skills with other abilities and core competencies that are appreciated by all companies, large and small. These include things like attention to detail, effective decision making skills, the ability to make judgments quickly and consistently, and the ability to take the initiative, even when not asked to do so. Show that you have the confidence and reliability to be there, day after day, for your company.

As for certifications, there are many different things that you can include to make yourself stand out as an applicant. You want to include any sorts of industry-specific software if you are familiar with such as PowerPoint and Outlook, but also things like publisher, QuickBooks, scheduling tools and apps, organizational planners like Charlo, A sauna, and Reich, and even more niche tools such as Lotus Notes and other industry-specific enterprise level software suites.

For educational certifications, there are many ways to go about becoming qualified for any given position. Some positions require individuals with more innate interpersonal skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, these types of abilities. These types of skills can be learned over long career of actual work. Additionally, if you do not have years of experience, you can add the skills through relevant coursework at a university.

There are also specific governing bodies that can certify you as an executive assistant. These include things like ASAP ( American Society of Administrative Professionals). There are also organizations like the International Association of Administrative Professionals, or IAAP, who offer Certified Administrative Professional, or CAP, certifications. Many of these industry-specific certifications can be completed online in just a matter of months and are helpful additions to any resume.

Useful Skills to Include

Below is a table of relevant useful skills that you might include on your resume. Again, these are just recommendations; to really stand out you must make your resume unique to you, That means it must display your unique strengths as a candidate, strengths other applicants just do not have.

Use the table below for inspiration. Read through these suggested skills, find those that are applicable to you, and build from them. Write a huge list of skills, anywhere from 20-30, and then, bit by bit, work through them and select only those which are either a.) listed in the job description or b.) unique enough to make you stand out as an applicant among hundreds or even thousands.

Useful Executive Assistant Skills

ImportanceSkillSkill Description
75Reading ComprehensionUnderstanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
75Active ListeningGiving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
72SpeakingTalking to others to convey information effectively.
69Service OrientationActively looking for ways to help people.
66WritingCommunicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
63CoordinationAdjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
63Time ManagementManaging one's own time and the time of others.
56Social PerceptivenessBeing aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
53MonitoringMonitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
50Critical ThinkingUsing logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
50Active LearningUnderstanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
50Judgment and Decision MakingConsidering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
47PersuasionPersuading others to change their minds or behavior.
44NegotiationBringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
41MathematicsUsing mathematics to solve problems.
41Complex Problem SolvingIdentifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
41Systems AnalysisDetermining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
38Learning StrategiesSelecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
38InstructingTeaching others how to do something.
38Systems EvaluationIdentifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
38Management of Personnel ResourcesMotivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
28Quality Control AnalysisConducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
25ProgrammingWriting computer programs for various purposes.
25Operation MonitoringWatching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
22Operations AnalysisAnalyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
19Technology DesignGenerating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
19Management of Material ResourcesObtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
13ScienceUsing scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
13Management of Financial ResourcesDetermining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
6Operation and ControlControlling operations of equipment or systems.
6RepairingRepairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
3Equipment SelectionDetermining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
0InstallationInstalling equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
0Equipment MaintenancePerforming routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
0TroubleshootingDetermining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

Additional Resources

Below are a few additional resources that you may find useful when working to craft your resume and cover letter. Remember, search engines are your friends. Do your research;  learn about the company you are applying to; learn about the industry. The more you know, the better suited you will be when sitting down in a face-to-face interview situation.

Please let us know if we did not clarify something that you we’re searching for or if there is a topic that we didn’t cover. Use the comments below, we read them and we always answer then to the server abilities. Thank you and best of luck with your job hunt!