Work as a Virtual Assistant : Insider Tips
In today’s very competitive employment environment, you need to keep all your options open. One of the alternatives that often gets overlooked is being a virtual assistant. I had the opportunity to get some insider tips from eaHELP President Tricia Sciortino, who was actually the company’s first virtual assistant, and now she is the president!
Her insights shed light on how to get started and what to expect. If you approach these employment targets with the same level of preparation as any other position, you just might land the perfect job. Here’s my questions, and her answers from her insider perspective.
1. Obviously, there are a lot of not-so-reputable companies and websites out there. What’s your advice to someone considering being a virtual assistant on avoiding them?
Do your research. You can certainly find reviews about the not-so-reputable companies, and anything that sounds too good to be true likely is. In fact, we often hear that eaHELP sounds too good to be true – but we’re the real deal. We encourage both potential clients and virtual assistants to check out crowdsourced review sites like VirtualAssistantAssistant.com to see what real client and virtual assistants are saying about the virtual assistant firms that are out there.
2. What have you found to be the most rewarding part of being a virtual assistant?
Clients are always challenging and encouraging us and our assistants to learn new skills, new tools, and new technologies. Our assistants are able to see their skills grow, and see how their contributions are making a difference in their clients’ businesses.
Plus, our assistants are able to do all these things while working in ways that really work for them and their families. They’re able to take their work anywhere, and work at any time.
3. Are there any tips you’d give to someone considering being a virtual assistant in regards to:
a. What to expect in compensation compared to traditional employment
Most virtual assistants are 1099 contractors, which means the compensation can vary depending on your employment agreement—whether you’re truly on your own as a freelancer, working through a placement organization like eaHELP or hired on directly through the organization.
b. How to stand out when applying
A virtual interview is just like any other interview—you need to show up ready to impress. Look the part, both in your personal appearance and with your surroundings. Make sure there’s nothing distracting behind you (including your family members!). Do your research on the position and requirements, and know what the interviewer is looking for. Sell yourself and your experiences, and help the interviewer see how you’re a fit for the open position.
c. How to tell if you’re a good fit for the needs and demands of the employer
Think about how you’ve adapted to new positions and responsibilities before, and be ready to share that in the interview process. Emphasize how you’ve done work like this before—either in a professional or volunteer environment—and share how you’ve learned and adapted to new challenges and leveraged new tools and software to get things done. eaHELP takes the process a step beyond, looking at areas like prior work experience, personality, communication and work styles, and expectations to make sure our virtual assistants and clients make the most effective team possible. We see ourselves not as a placement service, but more like productivity “matchmakers,” looking at all the dimensions of both a client’s and assistant’s background to set them up for long-term working success together.
4. What is the typical career path of a virtual assistant? Do they tend to stay in that field, or use it as a jumping off to something else?
Most of our virtual assistants stick with us, as they quickly get hooked on the flexibility and freedom working virtually provides! Several of our virtual assistants who came on board with us in our earliest days five years ago are still serving their original clients and still delivering tremendous results – check out just one of these stories on our blog!
5. What specific skills or background is in most demand?
The first thing we look for in candidates is a genuine desire to contribute to the success of a team. We can tell pretty quickly whether that desire is sincere in a candidate, because we involve multiple members of our team in our video interviews and draw on all their perspectives. After that, we want candidates who are ready to lean into learning new skills and saying “yes, I’ll figure it out” to what our clients ask of them. We want our candidates to be ready to dive into managing a client’s calendar, travel, social media, data entry… whatever administrative tasks they have that are weighing them down!
Any candidate who’s going to work successfully from home also has to have a substantial amount of motivation to get and keep focused on their tasks at home, when a dozen distractions are calling out at any given time. They’ve got to stay connected to their tasks and to their clients through whatever project or task management tools work for everyone involved, which means they’ve got to embrace technology and tools very quickly.
6. Is there anything else you would like to add?
We’re always looking for candidates who embody everything we talked about above—head over to our site to learn more!