10 Soft Skills Every Virtual Assistant Should Have
In the last few years, the practice of virtual staffing has been adopted by more and more businesses all over the world. With more entrepreneurs talking about outsourcing non-essential or specialized tasks to a virtual assistant or a virtual staffing team, the demand for virtual assistant services continues to increase. After all, the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant are innumerable.
But so are the benefits of becoming a virtual assistant.
These days, it’s not just small business owners who are looking to outsource tasks to virtual assistants. Some business bigwigs have also taken to outsourcing and virtual teams to solve their staffing issues, improve productivity, diversify their team, and reduce staffing costs. Check out these quotes from business tycoons about outsourcing:
These opinions show how outsourcing and virtual staffing solutions have grown to become extremely popular among business owners all over the world. The growth of virtual assistant services, both in terms of supply and demand, combined with the increased viability of remote work got many employees who hold a regular office job thinking: can I be a successful virtual assistant too?
Some people think that just because you have the hard skills for an open VA position, you can easily make the jump from working in an office to working from home. While it’s true that an in-house graphic designer has a huge advantage when applying for remote graphic design work because of their training and experience, it’s not a guarantee of success.
Many long-time office workers gave up their regular 9-to-5 job to enjoy the perks of becoming a virtual assistant for small business owners or startups only to realize that they are not equipped to handle the other aspects of the job. Sure, they have a mastery of their craft, but becoming a successful virtual assistant requires more than just top-notch administrative, development, sales, writing, and other hard skills. You need to have a specific set of soft skills too.
It’s not all about the training. If you truly want a long-term career as a VA, you shouldn’t just ask “what does a virtual assistant do,” you should also ask, “what should a virtual assistant be.”
The skills listed down below are soft skills — they’re all about your personality and general disposition. These are more difficult to hone compared to technical skills because they require you to change some things that you’ve been doing since forever, and are therefore arguably more valuable, especially when you’re going to work as a VA where you’ll be expected to manage and supervise yourself.
Here are 10 soft skills that you need to possess if you want to be an outstanding VA:
Exceptional communication skills
Talking to a potential or a current client over the phone, through emails, or via chat messages creates plenty of room for misunderstandings. On top of that, knowing when to call, email, or message your client can be a bit of a challenge as well. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many messages, but you certainly want to keep them updated about your work.
The challenges that come with not being able to simply walk over to a nearby desk to talk to your boss means that you need to more than just average communication skills. You need to be able to express yourself clearly verbally and in writing AND know when and how often to communicate.
A proclivity for learning new things
Any VA who keeps their skills static will eventually be left behind. The digital landscape evolves extremely fast, and skills that might be in demand today can be close to obsolete in five or ten years time. If you’re serious about becoming a virtual assistant for the long haul, you have to be genuinely interested in learning new things, upgrading your skills, and doing continuous training and upskilling.
Active listening skills
You will encounter many different personalities and professional attitudes by working with various clients as a VA. Some of them will provide you with clear, written instructions about your tasks, while others will call you or message you at seemingly random times to tell you about a new task or instruction. This means that you have to have active listening skills and you need to be armed with the ability to stay present and alert for every conversation. You should be able to comprehend and remember the things your client, manager, or colleague will tell you to ensure that you’re following the right instructions and that your output aligns with their requirements.
A good grasp of working in the cloud
You need to be proficient in various online tools in order to collaborate effectively with your clients. Aside from the basics like Skype and Google Drive, you need to be familiar with other online collaboration tools such as password managers, project management software, online meeting and other communication tools, file sharing tools, online presentation tools, and so on and so forth.
If your client isn’t familiar with any of the above, you can help them set up a workflow to make your collaboration and communication with them a lot more efficient and effective.
Patience and persistence
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can quit your job today and get a VA job within a week or two. It’s a lot more complicated than that. Just as you built yourself up in the office, so would you need to build your online portfolio up as well. You’re going to be entering a world where there are literally thousands of others with the same skill set as you and with heaps more experience in the virtual assistance community. Your more experienced competitors will have the connections and familiarity with the VA community that you don’t have, so you need both patience and persistence to break into the scene.
You need to be persistent in pursuing potential clients, sending proposals, and applying for jobs. On top of that, you need to be patient even if you have been encountering rejections left and right. It’s advisable to apply to a trusted virtual staffing company like 20Four7VA that already have a steady stream of clients who are looking for VAs with a specific skill set. This means that you have better chances of landing a job when you work with a virtual staffing company. Aside from that, they can also help you take care of necessary but confusing tasks such as admin tasks, HR, and payroll.
Superior time management skills
Congratulations, you are now in control of your time since you’re working as a VA! However, being in control means that you also have to be able to manage your time well. Working at home means that it will be more challenging to separate your personal life and your professional life. If you want to actually be able to do your job, you need to have superior time management skills so that you can create a solid daily schedule.
Superb research ability
No matter what niche you’re going to target as a VA, you will definitely need exceptional research ability. The thing that most, if not all, VAs experience is that their clients will sometimes ask them to do something that they are not entirely familiar with. In order to deliver and impress your clients, you need to be resourceful enough to do what they’re asking you to do even if it’s outside the scope of your job.
Of course, if your client is asking you to do so many things that are not in your job description, you will need to re-negotiate your terms and pay rate. But for simple, one-off tasks that need a little bit of research, you need to be able to handle them well on your own.
Good organizational skills
Excellent organizational skills are especially important if you’re going to be working for multiple clients, and you’ll find that many VAs actually do. It’s not practical to stick to just one client in the virtual assistance world. Not only does this offer you little in terms of job security, but it also hampers your career growth. But working with multiple clients can be challenging if you’re not organized. Mixing their files up and forgetting where things are are major blunders that you can avoid if you are a well-organized virtual assistant.
It’s also important for you to be organized with your physical files and workspace as well. Since you’ll be working at home, it would be easier for you to misplace important documents. Making sure that your work area is clean and organized will help you avoid this issue.
An assertive attitude
Virtual assistants are expected to sell themselves to potential clients and endear themselves to existing clients. This means that you need to be assertive – just the right amount of a can-do attitude without being too aggressive or pushy.
Adaptability and a workable personality
Lastly, you need to be able to adapt to different situations and cultivate good working relationships with different personalities. Unlike in a typical office, you will be working with fresh faces much more often as a VA. You might even be working for a new client every few months! This means that you need to be able to adjust your attitude and working methods depending on your client’s preferences.
Possessing the skills above can help assure you of a highly successful and prolific career as a virtual assistant.
Think you’re ready to start your VA career? We can help! Follow this link to send us your application form, and we’ll help you find the perfect client.