15 Must-Have Administrative Assistant Skills for Top Virtual Assistants
The pandemic has pushed businesses to move partly or entirely into online operations. As people grapple with the new normal, the significance of virtual administrative assistance in business becomes more apparent. Job search for administrative roles is on the rise as virtual assistants (VAs) and entrepreneurs alike settle into operating online. With such tough competition and thousands of applicants, how do you find top VAs? Simple. By exploring the different administrative skills that make a virtual assistant top-notch.
Admin Assistant Skills: A Quick Glance
An administrative assistant or simply an administrator is a person who:
- Guides or overlooks the activities of another person or group; and
- Is responsible for achieving certain organizational objectives through these efforts
According to a Harvard Business Review article, an administrator must have these three skills to be effective:
These are the administrative assistant skills that underscore a person’s knowledge and efficiency in or about certain tasks, methods, and processes. Technical skills involve specialized knowledge about a specific field and training to use specific tools.
These skills pertain to an administrator’s ability to view their company as a whole while recognizing its various functions that depend on one another. Administrators with strong conceptual skills recognize the role of the company in the community. They use this knowledge to work behind the scenes to grow the relationships that branch from these roles.
As someone who works closely with people, it’s only fitting that an administrator must have interpersonal skills to be effective. At its core, administrative work is helping others perform their duties well. In addition, an administrative assistant ensures that a company seems approachable from the point of view of clients and partners.
So, how do these administrative assistant skills translate to the virtual way of doing business?
15 Must-Have Administrative Assistant Skills for Top VAs
What must VAs learn to be marketable administrators? What competencies should business owners look for to land an effective VA? Here are the 15 administrative assistant skills that set-top virtual assistants apart:
A virtual administrative assistant primarily uses a computer in performing their tasks. As admin VAs conduct business support through email, phone, and chat, it’s a must to have software competency. These programs include Microsoft Office and Google Suite. Even though these are basic programs and may not even be used by some companies, the skill in using them remains beneficial. The more an administrator is familiar with basic software programs, the easier it will be for them to learn more advanced tools.
Adeptness with Online Tools
Apps for communication, tools for virtual collaboration, programs for design and planning — there’s a myriad of online tools out there for every project, purpose, and work that one can imagine. It is the administrator’s job to know these tools. More importantly, it is their job to recognize which of this wide variety of tools will be most efficient and practical for their company. Does your company only have less than 5 members working on a project? Perhaps a free or basic project management tool is better than paying for a premium version. Are your team members located in different time zones? Maybe Slack and Zoom are more convenient communication tools than VoIP. An effective admin assistant can help the company choose more suitable and affordable online tools.
A top admin VA knows how to arrange tasks and projects according to importance and urgency. The ability to prioritize is key to helping an admin VA do operations management tasks such as calendar and project management, appointment setting, and scheduling.
Filing and Records Management
Customer details, company information, employee data — a company deals with different types of information all the time. The longer you are in business, the higher this pile of information grows. It’s important to have a system of filing and recording important company information to keep day-to-day operations smoothly. Efficient files and records management is also key to keeping your company secure.
Planning to branch out to a different location? Exploring other product ideas? You need comprehensive research to determine the feasibility of your plans. This is another task that you can delegate to an admin assistant. Be sure to select one with excellent research and fact-checking skills.
Foresight and Anticipation
Imagine working with an assistant who doesn’t need to be told what to do. That would definitely take a huge load off your shoulders! An assistant who has the initiative to do what needs to be done is rare but a definite must-have. How do you find one? Look for VAs with excellent attention to detail, while having the ability to see things in the big picture. Such admin assistants would have the ability to think on their feet and make the best choices in a given situation.
From processing orders to dealing with suppliers, customers, and partners, a company works on schedule. An admin assistant must therefore have the competency to organize daily, weekly, and monthly agenda. Time management is important not only in ticking off items on your to-do list but also in ensuring your company’s clocked-in hours are as productive as possible.
Creative Problem Solving
Running a business is exciting in that dealing with unique people and situations comes with the territory. However, this also means having to come up with solutions that you don’t learn from school or from books. It’s best to work with an admin assistant who has creative problem-solving skills. During the job interview for your admin assistant, make sure to ask candidates about the tricky situations they had to face, and how they managed to fix such hitches.
Being organized is more than just planning ahead of time. For top virtual assistants, organization skills extend to the ability to regroup and push forward when things don’t fall according to plan — which would sometimes happen in business. When employees call-in sick or if you are working on a tight seasonal schedule, your admin VA should help you accomplish goals even when plans have to change from time to time.
A resourceful administrator can help a company save big bucks, boost product quality, and eventually expand. Resourcefulness is another conceptual skill that a VA needs to be efficient in their tasks such as sourcing for suppliers, market research, and organizing events.
Administrators work with different people — from company executives to business partners and new team members to prospects. Effective communication skills are therefore non-negotiable. Find a VA who is adept in communicating via email, phone, social media, or instant messaging platforms.
Whether appeasing a disgruntled customer or closing a deal with a supplier, negotiations are part of an administrator’s job description. Top VAs have the ability to nurture relationships with third-parties while taking care of the interests of the company.
The pandemic and the economic changes in its wake prove how businesses need to be flexible to survive. You must therefore work with someone who can quickly adapt to any situation. Top administrators know how to roll with the punches. They can think on their feet while keeping the company’s best interests at heart.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to use, understand, and manage one’s emotions positively. Apart from having the knowledge and training for their job, an administrator must also have the emotional intelligence to be effective. As someone who deals with different people and is likely to face stressful situations, an administrator should learn how to relieve stress, empathize, and defuse an otherwise volatile situation. An emotionally intelligent administrator can influence their organization, persuade and appease customers, and healthily address their own limitations and needs.
Deportment or Proper Etiquette
Administrative assistants can wear many hats. According to the needs of their company, they can help organize events, provide help desk support, train and onboard new employees, and engage with business partners. Whatever task you delegate them, you must be confident that your administrative assistant will present themselves in a way that befits and benefits your business. Top administrative assistants must have the ability to leverage their communication skills and emotional intelligence in representing their company in all types of situations.
Where to Hire Top Virtual Administrative Assistants
A CNBC report projected that 1 in 4 Americans will be working from home in 2021. Whether you are a virtual assistant or a business owner, you must know where to find the cream of the crop among administrators.
While there are different platforms that can help you find and hire administrators, it is better to work with staffing agencies instead. For one thing, staffing agencies such as 20four7VA would pre-screen applicants before linking them with clients. For another, the agency provides training so virtual assistants can continuously hone their skills and develop specialities. Here are other advantages of working with a virtual staffing company.
Regardless of your company size and current circumstances, you’ll find many benefits by hiring a virtual admin assistant. To ensure you find the best one, look for these 15 must-have administrative skills that set-top virtual assistants apart.