How to Become an Administrative Assistant

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Administrative assistants, secretaries or virtual assistants provide important clerical assistance to offices of different organizations and becoming an administrative assistant can be a rewarding career. These professionals work closely with the management to ensure that day-to-day office tasks run smoothly. To this end, they perform a variety of clerical and administrative tasks, including: handling office paperwork, planning and scheduling meetings, maintaining electronic records/files, arranging and fixing appointments, handling basic bookkeeping and accounting, undertaking preparations for official guests, managing projects, distributing information, and making travel arrangements including accommodations.

Additionally, administrative assistants are also responsible for taking minutes during meetings, keeping records up to date, filing, typing and setting up documents such as letters and reports, reception duties such as greeting and looking after visitors, making sure that there is enough stationery, managing office equipment such as printers, photocopiers and fax machines, maintaining the company website, handling all corporate communications, acting as interface for both vendors and clients, and performing or coordinating clerical and minor technical support services, such as parking, housekeeping, food, record-keeping and dealing with whatever else helps in ensuring the proper functioning of an organization. The specific required skills of an administrative assistant often depend on the place of employment and level of expertise, but generally candidates must have developed an ability to multitask.

Administrative assistants must have a fastidious eye for detail, be well organized, reliable, and able to work unsupervised. They should be proficient in punctuation and grammar, proofreading and writing. Being excellent in oral and writing communication skills as well as possessing an above-average typing speed, developed organizational and people skills, customer skills, and ability to always maintain a professional appearance are many of the other necessary traits for administrative assistants to demonstrate.
Because the work of these professionals is quite vast and diverse, anyone who aspires to be an administrative assistant needs to know how to use various software applications for databases, spreadsheets and desktop publishing, including MS Office, QuickBooks, PageMaker, Illustrator, Photoshop and more in order to perform all those tasks that are essential to the job.

Becoming an Administrative Assistant

How to become an administrative assistant may begin by getting basic office skills and a high school diploma can help you get an entry-level secretarial position, however it is always recommended that anyone considering starting a career as an administrative assistant undertakes a secondary admin assistant training in order to ensure that they are fully prepared to enter this profession. Employers are starting to look more and more for candidates with college degree. Many of these administrative assistants work closely with high-level executives, so an associate or bachelor’s degree related to the business of the company would be appropriate. Even if a degree isn’t a must, it’s often preferred, and will provide you a leg up when applying for a high profile secretarial job.
Most high schools, vocational schools and community colleges offer courses in typing, word processing, office administration, computer courses and other programs – which can provide a strong background in office skills and are therefore a good and solid asset to starting a career in this field. An administrative assistant training program itself can vary in length, depending on the nature of the program and the school which is chosen. Also, some educational institutions offer online training programs that allow individuals to study from home at their own pace. A typical admin assistance program, which is offered by vocational schools, trains students in topics such as: office procedures, computer fundamentals, MS Office applications, business correspondence, administrative technology, administrative assisting, and many other areas to enhance skill sets of individuals who want to establish a career as administrative assistants. Undertaking such an admin assistance training course can greatly increase your chances of landing a high paying job.

As well as training, getting administrative assistant certification can boost one’s career prospects. Certification can show your competence and sets you apart in this competitive field. Certification can be obtained from organizations such as International Association of Administrative Professionals (or IAAP). It’s also worth noting that there has been a clear upward trend in the hiring of virtual administrative assistants. This can be attributed to the fact that many small businesses have realized that they can reduce their operating costs by hiring virtual workforce staff who work right from their own homes. These virtual administrative assistants perform the same duties as those who work in offices, but enjoy the flexibility of working from home. This has actually brought many exciting opportunities for anyone looking to enter into this field since individuals can now work from home, which makes life easier.

Lastly, like in any other field, it’s important for candidates to know how to write a good resume and cover letter and be prepared for an interview in order to increase their chances of being hired  online or off-line. Nothing can hurt your administrative job chances more than a poorly written resume and cover letter and being ill-prepared for an interview. A well-written resume and a strategically targeted cover letter along with proper preparation will show an employer that you’re the most qualified candidate for the job or for advancement. They will tell the employer who you are and why they should hire you, showcase your abilities, show that you’re serious about the opportunity and give you an opportunity to highlight your strengths. This, in turn, will drastically improve your chances of securing a job offer.

For more information on what types of courses are available in administrative assistant programs, visit administrative assistant programs.


Sample Administrative Assistant Cover Letter

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Here is a sample of an administrative assistant cover letter you can use to customize to your needs.


Your Address:
[Street Address]
[City, State and Zip Code]


[Contact Person’s Address:]
Mr./Ms. _____________
ABC Company
Street Address
City, State and Zip Code

Dear Mr. / Ms. (Last Name):

In response to your current job advertisement of Administrative Assistant as advertised on, I am pleased to submit my resume because your job requirements are closely matching my career interests, qualifications and work experience. Along with my post graduate diploma in Administration and two years’ of hands-on experience in general office administration, I am confident in my ability to become a central member of ABC Company.

During my education and administration related jobs I have gained Continue reading…


Writing an Effective Cover Letter for an Administrative Assistant Position

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In the employment world, a first impression matters, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the cover letter. Without a standout cover letter, many employers will not bother to give more than a cursory examination to the resume beneath, before relegating it to the rejection pile. The cover letter is the first glimpse that the employer has of a potential new hire, and it is essential to nail it in order to gain that coveted position.

In order to write a standout administrative assistant cover letter, it is important to Continue reading…


Being An Administrative Assistant

Having a job title of being an administrative assistant sounds extremely professional and fit for the actual job that it calls for. Whether you are called an administrative assistant, secretary, receptionist, executive secretary, executive administrator, marketing assistant, sales assistant or any other variations of being an administrative assistant, the general tasks that you would be performing are all similar and may only differ with the kind of department you are
working for (ie.sales, human resource or marketing).

Key Points Of Being An Administrative Assistant

There are three main points that best characterize the job of an administrative assistant. They are Continue reading…


Administrative Assistants Day

There are many professions that require so much, yet gratify the holder in so few ways. One of these “unsung hero” jobs is that of an administrative assistant. Administrative assistants are the “pulse of the office”- the behind-the-scenes wizard who controls the day-to-day, ensuring that all runs smoothly, on time, and under budget, yet rarely are they given any sort of recognition. Administrative Assistant Day (also known as Secretary’s Day), is a small way to mitigate this imbalance. This unofficial, secular holiday is celebrated in several countries in order to draw attention and accolades towards the services of administrative assistants, receptionists, and other support personnel. The date of celebration differs according to which country is celebrating- In Europe, Administrative Assistant Day always falls on the third Thursday in April, which is April 26th in 2012, and in North America, Administrative Assistant Day is celebrated on the Wednesday of the last full week of April, which is April 25th in 2012.

The idea for a day set apart to celebrate the contributions of those employees who otherwise might remain unrecognized came about in 1952. Mary Barret, then president of the National Secretaries Association (now known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals, or IAAP), along with C. King Woodbridge, (president of Dictaphone Corporation) served on a council that year which addressed the national problem of a shortage of skilled office workers. Together with Harry Klemfuss, the public account executive at Young & Rubicam, they came up with the idea for a National Secretaries Week. The U.S. Secretary of Commerce at the time, Charles Sawyer, inaugurated the first official
“National Secretaries Week” From June 1-June 7 in 1952, with June 4th serving as “National Secretaries Day”.

The name was changed from “National Secretaries Day” to “Professional Secretaries Day” in 1981, and then to its final name, “Administrative Professionals Day” in 2000, both to reflect the wide ranging duties and responsibilities of administrative professionals,  as well as highlight the changing levels of importance of administrative assistants.

The purpose of the day was two-fold, Continue reading…


Sample Administrative Assistant Resume

Here is a sample Administrative Assistant resume you can use to customize to your needs.


George Brown
1234 Hanover Street,
Toronto, ON
R3T 6M4,
(123)-456 7890.

Career Profile

Administrative Assistant with strong interpersonal and organizational skills with a Continue reading…


How To Write an Administrative Assistant Resume

Obtaining a job as an administrative assistant is a smart move in today’s economy. Sales positions may come and go, but administrative assistants will always be in demand. An administrative assistant may be a great “stepping-stone” job right out of college, or it may be the end goal of an employment search, but either way, knowing how to write an administrative assistant resume that stands out from all of the other applicants is the key to obtaining the job.

There are several steps to take in order to write a eye-catching resume. Firstly, consider the parameters of the job to be applied for. Carefully phrase descriptions of past employment history to reflect qualities desirable in the desired position of an administrative assistant. For instance, if one had worked briefly as a camp counselor, the key words to highlight in a description of the post may be “group-oriented”, “highly organized”, and “excellent communication skills”. In the same manner, play up any non-paying internships and volunteer hours, especially if they pertain to the position that one would like to obtain.

Administrative assistants are in a unique position in that they must  anticipate the needs of whomever they are assisting, but must also be the authoritative hand behind the curtain, orchestrating most of the day. Necessary skills to accomplish such duality include Continue reading…


Administrative Assistant Job Description

When considering a position as an administrative assistant, it is a good idea to have some idea of what the duties pertaining to such a position would entail. An administrative assistant is the nexus of the office, coordinating schedules, orchestrating the day-to-day, and keeping track of the myriads of ongoing projects. To be an effective administrative assistant, it is vital to possess extraordinary multi-tasking abilities, be extremely organized, and be able to remain on task within strict time guidelines. In addition to these skills, an administrative assistant must maintain a professional demeanor and appearance, as he or she is likely the first view of the company that a prospective client may have.

A good administrative assistant is helpful, knowledgeable about the workings of the company, and has a network of helpful contacts on hand should any questions arise. Some duties that may be in the scope of an administrative assistant’s position may include scheduling and booking conferences (including lodging and air transportation), maintaining professional licenses, organizing and scheduling the daily activities and meetings of the manager,  and acting as the point person for all service people, suppliers, and clients.  He or she may also be responsible for collecting and entering data pertaining to the time cards of other employees, and liaison with payroll to ensure timely delivery.

There are some skills and vital character attributes that are non-negotiable if one would like to Continue reading…