When you hear the words ‘virtual assistant’, you might imagine robots, AI, or automated replies. Although there are now software offering automated support to manage specific aspects of busy professionals, like scheduling tools such as x.ai, the reality is that a human is still needed when dealing with the day to day assistance of a business owners or area director… but now this assistance can be given online.
The field of assistance isn’t new in any sense, companies directors or team leaders usually have had the support of in-person executive assistants to manage their schedules, coordinate meetings, handle specific requests, etc. However, the internet has significantly changed how the role can be done and now anybody anywhere in the world, with a reliable internet connection and a certain set of skills can become a “virtual assistant”.
But, what does it take to become a virtual assistant? What do you actually do at a day to day basis? Where can you find a job as a virtual assistant? Here’s everything you need to know…
- What’s a virtual assistant
- What does a virtual assistant do
- What are the skills and knowledge required to become a virtual assistant
- What does it take to be a good virtual assistant
- Where can you find a job as a virtual assistant
What’s a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is the online alternative of a traditional executive assistant: You’ll be giving support to a business owner, manager or team leader. It’s a role that looks over administrative, communicative, and operational concerns of a single or many clients.
Instead of having to go every day to an office and being full time employees of a given company, virtual assistants provide their services remotely, usually through online, virtual platforms through which they’re hired by a specific or set of clients.
They typically work as freelancers and get paid for the time they work with the assigned client(s), although there’s also a lot of flexibility in this regard, and there are also scenarios in which the virtual assistant is hired as a full time employee of a given company or professional that are particularly looking for support in a given field.
What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
In general, a virtual assistant tends to have the same role and responsibilities as an in-person assistant, such as:
- Revising and following up with emails,
- Arranging appointments, meetings, and deadlines
- Keeping a check on accounts
- Setting reminders
- Maintaining records
- Securing important documents, and so on.
However, there are also more specialized virtual assistants that can offer specific support in certain areas, which should be agreed managing social media, bookkeeping, writing, editing and/or publishing blog posts, managing blogs or editing content, including articles and/or images.
What are the Skills and Knowledge Required to Become a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is usually required to have certain common hard and soft skills, and ideally, also proven experience dealing with tasks requiring these skills:
- Hard skills like, speaking a language fluently (usually English), knowing how to use text and image editors, spreadsheets, productivity and project management software, as well as content management systems.
- Soft ones, like active listening, effective time management, proactivity, dependability and fluent communication.
Some different skills areas that are usually taken into consideration when hiring a virtual assistant are:
Before you work in the virtual world as an assistant, it would be great to have some insight into how organizational matters work within a business. Whether your clientele operates in large steel buildings or only exits in bits and binary codes, you should be aware of the general administrative issues for any organization. This includes understanding how employees, hiring, finances, logistics, etc., work.
As a virtual assistant, you can find a job without needing a specific degree. However, the higher the qualification, the better the chances of your success as a VA. Having a professional degree or a diploma in your client’s field can help you assist with more confidence and build a better career. On the downside, an incomplete academic background may not always work out in your favor.
This one’s a no-brainer, surely? Without internet fluency, experience with productivity suites, social platforms, blogs, research skills, online job hunts, and email management, there’s no point in becoming a virtual assistant. The more knowledge and experience you have in the most popular online tools for work management and communication, the easiest time you’ll have finding a good virtual assistant job.
As a virtual assistant you won’t be only communicating with your clients, but also, in behalf of them sometimes. It’s then fundamental that you have excellent communication skills. Fluency in English is a very common requirement.
Additionally, knowing how to communicate both in written and verbally, with excellent grammar, is important. Text messages, audio calls, and even video calls do not allow the same level of verbal and nonverbal communication as an in-person conversation. Therefore, as a virtual assistant, you need to be able to make sure you’re able to handle communication in a reliable manner in this type of environment.
What Does It Take to be a Good Virtual Assistant?
Above everything else, a good virtual assistant should be a dependable, trustworthy professional who should provide the required support, timely and in due form, showing proactivity and efficiency when doing the expected work.
There are certain characteristics that will differentiate a really good virtual assistant from the rest:
- Proactivity handling organizational and administrative affairs
- Fluency handling online text and video communication
- Reliability in availability and punctuality
- Follow privacy, security and legal requirements
- Adapting to new needed digital and technical skills
Where Can You Find a Job as a Virtual Assistant?
The easiest way to start your career as a virtual assistant is to use many of the virtual assistant platforms out there, that will handle the clients and will assign the tasks to the assistants directly in most cases, setting a fee per hour, although with high flexibility regarding the amount of hours you want to work.
Some well known virtual assistant platforms for you to check out are:
Being one of the largest platforms in the virtual attendant industry, Boldly always has a list of clients waiting to find their perfect VA match. This means there’s a huge chance you’ll find some of your best clientele on there, but that also means that Boldly has to filter through a lot of VA applicants like you.
Naturally, they have a list of requirements that their freelancer-cum-employee needs to match, including:
- A minimum of seven years of experience.
- A home office that speaks professionalism. This is a requirement for nearly every remote job these days, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Boldly demands you have a top-class home office to qualify for premium services.
- Availability for contracts of 1-2 years with clients in the field of your choice. This is usually how long Boldly’s contracts last.
- Prioritizing Boldly as your primary‘ workplace,’ even as a freelancer. This means more commitment to them than to your other sources or clients.
- Strong technical skills
With a vast range of clients in its Virtual Attendant program, Belay solutions also has a lot to offer to — and require from — virtual attendant candidates. They try their best to maintain an office-like work environment when it comes to moral values and hiring codes, so everyone can apply at their platform.
- Taking the online assessment test that’s featured on Belay Solution’s website. This helps you and them figure out if Belay Solutions is the right place for you.
- Proven professional experience and expertise
- In other words, you need to be well learned and well informed if you want to work as a VA here. You may choose a field of your own, but your knowledge needs to spread in other disciplines as well, such as law, accounting, business, technology, etc.
- Excellent problem-solving skills for the Belay Solutions clientele
3. My BLTR
My BLTR has a slightly different and passable benchmark for onboarding virtual attendants in their team. The platform itself is pretty mellow instead of the highly competitive vibes that scare away a lot of freelance VAs.
Here’s what My BLTR requires from its candidates:
- Experience as a virtual attendant, an administrative assistant, or a similar transferrable skillset. This is one of the most significant leverages you can get while working with My BLTR.
- A home office with zero distraction high-speed internet connection, as well as a solid mobile data connection for on-the-go communication. Basically, it’s a 24/7 remote link between you and your client.
- A PC, laptop, or MacBook with the latest version and products by Microsoft.
4. VaVa Virtual
A remote-based Georgian company helps businesses and virtual attendants grow side by side. The projects at VaVa Virtual range from digital marketing to administrative assistance. Their requirements include:
- United States residency
- Must have at least one year of remote work experience
- Excellent communication skills to keep in touch with the Project Manager and VaVa Virtual team
- Proficiency in technical work
- Managing appointments, meetings, dealing with discrepancies and schedule clashes
- An awareness of how long-term plans are created and executed on the spreadsheet as well as in practical life
5. Fancy Hands
Fancy Hands also has a pretty impressive influx of thousands of clients looking to hire virtual attendants to share their administrative workload. They currently have openings available for virtual attendant services in different fields and with different high and low-level clients. Here is what you will need to land that perfect client and build a Fancy Hands career:
- Strong internet connection. Small scale clients who need assistance in the most trivial matters and large-scale clients who get into the biggest troubles both need your attendance round the clock!
- Website and software knowledge. It seems like Fancy Hands is big on technical skills, which aren’t just limited to how you handle a few video call glitches. Instead, you need to have somewhat extensive knowledge of websites, codes, algorithms, and software programs and updates.
- Rigorous research skills for your Fancy Hands clients. These research abilities should mostly be helpful on the internet.
- Community building ethics. As a Fancy Hands VA, your duty is more than just that of a freelancer. You’ll have to engage with clients in a way that helps to strengthen the entire Fancy Hands community bonds and build a better repute for yourself and for them.
- Great communication capability. You have to be smart and friendly, especially over the phone!
6. Time Etc
Time etc is another well known platform for finding both clients and virtual attendants. They do have a concrete set of requirements, but they also help freelance virtual attendants grow as professionals in their fields. Plus, their clientele is usually pretty diverse, so you will enjoy working with them. To qualify for the job-hunting process, here’s what you must assure:
- That you have a minimum of 5-8 years experience, this is the average time that a virtual attendant takes to develop the required skill set. The higher the figure, the better the experience and skills!
- That you have had a previous work from home experience, not necessarily as a VA though
- That you are okay with working at $13 per hour per client at the beginning of your career at Time etc, the rate can go as high as $17 later on.
- That you are available during daytime work hours, if you work a regular office job too, this can be a problem.
- That you own a PC, laptop, or MacBook with the necessary tools and apps
If you’re planning on becoming a virtual attendant, then these platforms are your goldmine. However, almost all platforms require prior experience in WFH as well as in the assistance industry.
It’s also important to note how after you’ve developed your virtual assistant experience in these platforms you can also offer your services directly through your own site as a freelance, or apply for a full-time virtual assistant position at a company, using remote jobs board like the Remoters one.
The future of virtual assistance is both vast and bright. New technologies will enable virtual assistants to provide even more online services, perform better, and become more productive right from their home offices or wherever they might want to work from.
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