As work-from-home opportunities continue to increase, many people look to digital-based roles like that of a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants are valued members of the workforce, helping business owners, executives and other professionals carry out several time-consuming tasks in an efficient manner. In this article, we discuss the top skills of a virtual assistant and why they're important.
Why are virtual assistant skills important?
Having the skills of a virtual assistant demonstrates your level of digital proficiency and increases your chances of being hired for work-from-home opportunities. Virtual assistants work in many industries and possess a variety of transferrable skills that employers value in today's digital world. Many virtual assistants go on to assume marketing and sales positions with top companies.
Related: How To Become a Virtual Assistant
Top virtual assistant skills
Here are the main skills of a virtual assistant:
Employers need to know that the people they hire are reliable, especially virtual assistants who are only accessible online. Virtual assistants must be dependable when they are given a task and must respond to questions from their clients, as well as any concerns from customers. This not only builds trust between the customers and clients but also strengthens the brand name as it keeps moving forward.
Having great oral and written skills is important when working as a virtual assistant. Because there is no physical form of contact, clients must rely on emails, phone calls, messaging platforms and video calls to communicate. Being able to write and speak clearly helps provide a positive experience to all who communicate with the virtual assistant, which results in positive feedback for the brand.
Virtual assistants must know how to manage their time wisely because it is common for them to have multiple clients and schedules. To make multitasking as efficient as possible, virtual assistants often use online calendars and prioritize tasks in a certain way so they don't miss any important details. Some professionals schedule their meetings at specific times of the day when they feel less pressure to perform certain tasks. The style of time management ultimately depends on the unique needs of the company and the assistant who is managing clients.
It's important for virtual assistants to be resourceful, which may involve researching material and finding solutions to the problems that clients face. It's common for clients who are pressed on time to have virtual assistants do things like check facts, reply to emails and manage social media accounts. Knowing to perform these tasks requires information that is sometimes hard to find. Virtual assistants who are ready and willing to do this work are valued by employers.
Because virtual assistants typically work alone in a home environment, they must possess the discipline and motivation required to stay focused. They must understand how to prioritize time-sensitive requests and follow through with other requests while completing their work on time. When virtual assistants stay organized and follow a regular work routine, they have an easier time staying motivated throughout the day.
Being organized keeps clients' information easily accessible, which helps virtual assistants stay on schedule. Business owners commonly enlist the help of an assistant to manage emails, passwords, client information, birthday lists, holiday timelines, appointments, reminders and other list items. They may also manage a company's social media accounts. Experienced virtual assistants have systems in place that help them keep track of any important changes.
Business owners who are limited on time often struggle with creating original content. Some virtual assistants, depending on their background and knowledge of a particular niche, may be able to help with brainstorming and creating new initiatives. That's why many businesses in the digital marketing realm seek virtual assistants with knowledge of ad creation, social media branding, content writing, lead generation and email automation. Knowledge of these areas not only makes your skill set stronger but also helps your resume stand out from that of other applicants.
Knowing how to type is a technical skill required of all virtual assistants. That is what makes online communication possible. Most clients expect fast results when they put in a request, and typing quickly helps you accomplish the tasks efficiently assigned to you. Most companies that are looking for virtual assistants require a typing speed of at least 60 words per minute with 100% accuracy. There are several free online tools to help test or increase your typing skills.
Virtual assistants must be detail-oriented, catching any mistakes before they become public. This relates to online communication and other forms of writing, like instant messaging, where typos may compromise a company's professional image. When working for a client, virtual assistants must take steps to ensure they understand the client's instructions and perform them as described.
An important technical skill that successful virtual assistants use is known as batching. Rather than multi-task between the various needs of clients, they complete as many similar tasks as possible. Email management is one type of batching that frees up time in between other tasks. Rather than watching and responding to clients' emails as they come, virtual assistants designate time throughout the day to handle email correspondence. For instance, they may only respond to emails at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. By reducing the amount of time that you switch between tasks, you're improving your productivity and focus.
Virtual assistants often work as independent contractors, which means that having a basic knowledge of accounting skills is an important business practice. This helps you understand which clients and projects are most profitable and also helps you recognize when business expenses are affecting your profitability. If you need help, look at resources online designed to help business owners understand balance sheets and income statements.