Before we talk about becoming a virtual assistant, let’s have a quick rundown of what a VA actually is:
Often abbreviated to VA, a virtual (office) assistant is a professional who provides technical, administrative, creative or social assistance to other in a remote work environment. Essentially, a remote administrative job.
That’s my definition, anyway. Many VAs work as freelancers, often for one, two or more clients. But more and more companies are willing to hire many of their admin staff virtually. Simply because it saves on space.
Becoming a VA has a lot of perks: it’s a pretty flexible job, and it can be done from anywhere (which is the whole point). Additionally, many virtual assistants work as freelancers. Unlike copywriting however, you’ll usually have a chunk of hours each day where you work for a specific client. Which means that the gigs you land are usually long-term and have a certain amount of stability. Handy!
What you should know before becoming a virtual assistant
The job description “virtual assistant” actually encompasses a wide range of different skills. No two VAs have the exact same skillset: in fact, some may specialize in particular types of assistant (technical, administrative, emotional support… well okay, the last one was a joke but may be true in some cases. Watch out!).
Becoming a virtual assistant shouldn’t be viewed as a single, step-by-step process. Instead, you should consider yourself a sort of a “jack of all trades”. At the very essence of the job, you’re providing assistance to an individual. Basically, you have a set of skills and offer to use those skills to make another person’s job easier.
For example, a virtual assistant could…
- Work as a content manager, uploading content to websites and various other platforms.
- Set social media strategies.
- Write content (if they’re good enough…)
- Deal with technical issues on a website.
- Do online research.
- Book flights and holidays, schedule meetings, answer emails (very much in the realm of a “traditional” assistant).
- And much, much more…
The tasks of a VA really depend on the needs of your client/company. Which is why when applying for a job or pimping yourself out, you should be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. And then focus on your strengths.
Equipping Yourself to Become a VA: The core skills needed
What I just gave was an overview of what VAs do. But there are “core” skills and traits that you need to have if you’re interested in becoming a virtual assistant. Many of these skills can be learned. You of course need to have some clerical office skills (at the base of it, a VA is simply an office clerk that doesn’t sit in the office). You should also be computer literate – you don’t have to be a tech wizard (very few in the “online” industry actually are), but you should know your way around a computer.
Being able to learn and adapt are also highly important. Technology changes rapidly, as do many online industries. You’ve got to be able to move with the times and learn new software fast. One client may require you to work with Excel, the other with some bizarre open source program. You as a VA must be able to adapt – quickly – to appease all your clients.
If you’re an experienced professional, you probably already have a significant number of skills that’ll help you work as a VA.
The best advice I could give you is to do your research. See what the most in-demand skills are for VAs and assess whether or not your skillset is good enough. If not – well, get learning!