Job Descriptions Decoded: Senior Administrative Assistant

Getty Images (composite: Mack Gelber)

In an interesting twist, this description, while tied directly to a specific organization, is unclear about exactly who the administrative assistant will support. This could be because the organization is unsure where to place a new hire, or it may be because they have many openings. Alternatively, it may reflect a very general job description that the department is mandated to use. The good news, an applicant can go online and research the school and conduct research that will make it easier to target a resume. It will be important to indicate a history of supporting high-level professionals. If you're unfamiliar, a dean or director is either a mid- or high-level position in a school, while the vice president and president's office would likely be more akin to an executive function in a non-educational setting.

The best you can do with this information is to indicate somewhere on your resume that you have a history of being flexible and being able to work for any level of supervisor, as you may work for an executive assistant or you may report to a president directly.

The complete list of potential duties comes later in this job description, but you can address the issue of receiving on-the-job training and how you've been successful in other environments handling concerns as they come up.

These requirements are pretty general, but if you have specialized experience in or knowledge of federal, state and local laws as they relate to education, you should be sure to include that information in your resume. If you've worked in another educational institution, you may want to review your work history to identify a time when you handled an issue based on some sort of government regulation. This could help distinguish you from other candidates.

Don't assume the hiring authority will give you credit for any tool, software or application unless you list it. If you managed some sort of filing system or relational database, mention it. If it was proprietary, or if you think it may be unclear to someone outside of your current system, be sure to include a descriptor. For example, "Integrated XYZ database into organization's system. Designed typical inquiries and oversaw development to successfully track over 30,000 students annually."

If you're good at math and statistics, this is a great opportunity for you. Identify a time when you relied on your math and statistical knowledge to solve a problem and detail it in your resume. Don't just assume the reader (or the computer system analyzing your resume) will know you used "statistical procedures and mathematical concepts." Say so!

Even though this position may or may not be technically a supervisory job, if you have any experience providing direction, especially to students, be sure to include it in your resume. The issue of using English grammatically is more of a "show, don't tell" opportunity. You wouldn't want to have a typo in your bullet point saying how detail-oriented you are on the job, for example. Since even the most skilled editor may occasionally make a mistake, ask a talented friend to review your materials before you submit them for consideration.

These requirements provide another opportunity to include specifics in your documents. It's difficult to ascertain if you were using independent judgment unless you state it directly. If you made independent decisions based on initiative, include specifics in your resume. For example, "Demonstrated initiative by creating new filing system; relied on in-depth understanding of supervisor's needs to independently implement useful procedures, resulting in more accurate record keeping."

When there is a long list of desirable skills, it can be overwhelming and many job seekers will err on the side of being too general. Don't let this happen to you. Use every item on the job description that relates to you and describe how you are a good fit for the organization. In this set of requirements, "use sound judgment in recognizing scope of authority" can be a bit more difficult to articulate. Consider a time when you were called on to handle a situation in your boss' absence and you negotiated the problem in a way that helped the client, but did not overstep your authority. Include a specific example and use the words "use sound (or appropriate, or another synonym) judgment."

With all of these items, be as specific as possible. If you type or take dictation at a specific speed, list it. Clearly, in an administrative role, you need to demonstrate good judgment, but make sure you describe how you demonstrated that skill. Do not just list "have good judgment."

This is another specialized skill you will want to highlight if it applies to you. Be sure to list specifics about the type of budget (amount, percent of the organization's total) as well as exactly what you did.

Be aware that you'll be evaluated on both of these subjects based on your application. Can you analyze what the job requires based on the description and compile an appropriate application using correct English and grammar?

If you've been noted as a great mentor or supervisor, it's a good idea to include it.

Don't forget to list the programs you know how to use. Include something in your resume that proves you can learn new things and are adaptable as it relates to new programs and equipment. For example, "Volunteered to learn XYZ program as part of organization's train the trainer course. Noted as coach's best student and easily transitioned team to new program, resulting in winning Employee of the Quarter."

Almost every job requires the ability to work under pressure, but an administrative role can be especially challenging. Note your ability to handle high-level projects while simultaneously directing a flow of traffic (list how many people visit your office) or answering calls (indicate a typical number of calls).

If you've had the opportunity to work with diverse populations, it would be useful to say so.

Read Full Story