Looking for Administrative or Operations Work?
By Kerry Knapp
Monster Contributing Writer
If you’re looking for work in administration—in jobs ranging from administrative assistant and secretary to executive assistant and office manager—or in operations—which includes human resources, public relations, marketing and project management—you’ve got to present yourself as the candidate of choice.
To do that, your resume has to deliver what employers want to hear. But what exactly do employers want? And how can you improve your odds of getting to the next stage?
I asked Cindy Schwartz, a Recruitment Supervisor at Quantum Management Services, for a few tips on writing a resume that gets you noticed.
Target specific technical skills
First, review job postings and want ads to find out what technical skills employers are looking for in your line of work. If you don’t have them, get training. Once you’re up to snuff, list those skills clearly on your resume.
“Some skills are common to all jobs,” says Schwartz, “like computer literacy in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. For administrative jobs, I also look for the ability to take minutes or make travel arrangements, depending on the position, or financial or management skills like proficiency in SAP or QuickBooks.” Operations jobs can also require in-depth expertise specific to the field in question, such as HR or IT.
While Schwartz advises job seekers to brush up on computer skills before applying to any job, language skills are also vital, she says. “Knowing how to write correctly is essential. Many candidates are disqualified for poor language skills.”
Don’t forget your soft skills!
A review of Monster.ca postings shows that nearly all administrations and operations jobs call for good interpersonal skills, prioritizing and organizational abilities, the capacity to work both independently and as part of a team, multi-tasking capabilities and excellent written and verbal communication skills.
It’s up to you to develop those skills. Once you have, feature them prominently on your resumé and be prepared to back them up with a few examples.
Schwartz adds that employers “are also looking for signs of candidates’ facility with corporate culture and office culture,” which generally comes across in their employment history. Applicants who change jobs frequently are less attractive to employers looking to invest for the long term.
If your resume suggests you have trouble fitting in, try to figure out why and what you can do about it. If nothing else, you’ll have an answer ready when the question comes up in an interview.
List your diplomas and degrees, but …
“In administrative positions, education is not necessarily as valued as you might think it would be,” Schwartz told me, “although employers hiring for operations jobs clearly ask for a relevant degree. But even then, it seems that experience and value-added skills are more important.”
… Focus primarily on your experience and achievements
Schwartz says that “employers are looking for specific experience with their business realities. That can mean prior experience with processes like year-end closings and fiscal years. For administration jobs, it can mean supporting someone in an administrative capacity.”
Listing a few professional achievements gives you extra credibility and reinforces your skills in employers’ minds.
Last but not least, present a polished resume
Asked what grabs her attention in a resume, Schwartz tells me that clarity is key. “Candidates should describe their previous positions in detail, since job titles don’t mean the same thing from one place to the next. List your exact responsibilities at each job, the skills you acquired, and the contributions you made to the organization, especially for operations positions. Be clear, concise and relevant.”
Resume that are informative, focused and error-free are most compelling. A well-constructed, well-written resume that highlights specific skills, experience and achievements will help you get you to the next step. From there on, it’s up to you!