15 Essential Skills for Virtual Assistant: Are You Lacking Any?
Any kind of profession requires a certain set of skills and expertise, and this is no different for virtual assistants. If you want to see yourself as a successful VA in the next few years, you really need to focus on this area.
We have compiled a list of the most essential skills that you should have to make a successful career out of this profession. See which skills you already have and which ones require your attention.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant operates as a remote administrative contractor that provides support for different office management duties, such as answering emails, organizing files, transcribing documents, making arrangements for travels, and taking charge of administrative work to help clients focus on other more important aspects of their duties.
Your virtual assistant may be US-based but many of them work from other countries.
Such a flexible workforce is popular today among small businesses and the payment usually is made at an hourly rate. You also have the option to pay a fixed rate per week or month.
What Services Does a Virtual Assistant Provide?
1. General virtual assistance
- Payroll duties: Calculate work hours and update salaries
- Create and send over client invoices
- Banking activities such as fund transfer and bill payment
- Update and manage events on the official calendar
- Build survey forms for customer feedback
- Merge, split, and convert PDF files
- Respond to customer emails and manage spam
- Schedule sales appointments and meetings with potential clients
- Compose documents from faxes and handwritten drafts
- Check and cancel needless subscriptions
- Create and maintain cloud accounts such as Google Drive, Drobox, and OneDrive
- Arrange training manuals for new remote employees
- Job listing
- Create PowerPoint presentation
- Follow up with leads
- Arrange interviews
- Work as the personal assistant to the CEO
2. Content writing
- Create blog posts
- Script podcasts
- Submit directory
- Create and send out newsletters, invitations, greeting cards, and thank you notes
- Proofread office documents
- SEO writing
- Create guest blogs
- Sales lead calls
- Making cold calls
- Follow up calls on sales
4. Graphic design
- E-book design
- Product design
- Edit photos
- Graphics for social media
- Source images for blogs, social media, and books
- Design logo, business cards, and banners
5. Lead generation
- Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator and lead generation tools
- Contact on LinkedIn through cold messages
- Run contests and challenges on social media
- Send greetings to new LinkedIn contacts
6. SEO activities
- Develop SEO strategy
- Set up the landing page
- On-page and off-page optimization
- Analysis on competitors
- Weekly or monthly website traffic analysis
- Keyword research for blogs
- Submit sitemap and webmaster
- Comment on blogs
- Setup link building campaigns
- Report on keyword ranking
7. Social media management
- Create official social media accounts
- Regularly update the social media accounts
- Create pictures that are pinnable on Pinterest
- Upload photos on Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr
- Respond to customer inquiries, provide relevant and useful information, and thank them for mentions and purchases
8. Travel assistant
- Research locations for travel and book guided tours
- Check visa requirements
- Look for the best airfare and luggage carrying fees
- Find the best car rental and hotel services
- Reserve air travel seats and hotel rooms and negotiate the price
- Arrange transportation for airport pick-up and drop-off
- Set out emergency plans in case of cancellations
- Purchase travel insurance
Why Is It Important to Have Virtual Assistant Skills?
The skills of virtual assistants demonstrate their level of digital proficiency and increase their chances to have a fully remote career.
These professionals work in many industries and possess a set of transferable skills that employers highly value today.
Many virtual assistants go on to acquire marketing or sales positions with top corporations.
Top Skills for a Virtual Assistant
1. Self-management skills
As an employer, you want to make sure you can always rely on the virtual assistants you have hired. They must be dependable when given a task and must respond to customer concerns and questions.
Not only does this help build trust between you and your customers but help strengthen your brand.
ii. Communication skills
Good virtual assistants possess an extraordinary level of verbal and written communication skills regardless of their total work experience.
Since there is no physical contact, you need to rely on phone calls, video calls, emails, and texting platforms to communicate with them.
Having a clear writing and speaking persona helps your virtual assistants provide a positive experience to everyone who communicates with them. This results in positive feedback for your brand.
iii. Time management
Virtual assistants who fail to manage time miss deadlines, increase their stress levels, and produce poor quality work.
Those who are successful are always organized and prioritize their tasks wisely. They plan and keep the business hours within a time limit.
Self-discipline is essential for the job so they keep distractions away from their eyesight.
They also use excellent resources to organize creative and administrative work and keep journals to note down new ideas for other projects.
iv. Email management
Average workers spend 28% of their time sending and reading emails, which makes email management a necessity. 
Virtual email assistants leverage your mail accounts and do both follow-up and inbox management. They clean and sort your inboxes, help with email marketing tasks, and set auto-responders when needed.
You do not have to worry about missing a meeting or an important mail once you assign the job to dedicated assistants. Your customers and employees also get a faster response while you are able to save hours from your day every day.
Many virtual assistants work with multiple clients at a time. They need to maintain their tasks often simultaneously and provide solutions on time.
Virtual assistants also need to organize, schedule, and keep in touch with you all the time to avoid any errors. They commit to having a meticulous eye at their work to ensure that you get exactly what you want.
Having such detail-oriented assistants helps you save money, time, and the integrity of your company.
vi. Self-motivation and discipline
Self-motivated VAs have the qualities of accuracy, integrity, and a friendly personality.
They are disciplined, result-driven, take initiative when they work on your projects, and don’t procrastinate.
Distractions may slow down their performance level but self-motivated virtual assistants will always follow the schedule and meet the deadline to finish your work.
vii. Commitment to learning
Virtual assistants lose valuable assets whenever they fail to make small but measurable progress. Their commitment to professional and personal development largely impacts their career.
The nature of the job requires them to have a diverse set of skills to maximize work performance. Having a curious mind assists them to gain new information and adapt to the ever-changing world.
They treat every day as an opportunity to learn new things and often take online/offline courses to upgrade their skills.
2. Creative skills
i. Superior organizing skills
The tedious tasks that VAs are involved with require good organization skills.
You may create a screencast video showing the process for ongoing tasks that need constant organizing and share that with your VA along with full instructions.
VAs need to be efficient at building schedules and enjoy organizing data into user-friendly systems to succeed at the job.
You want to hire VAs to manage your emails and passwords, appointments, birthday list, client information, holiday timelines, and other reminders.
Being organized helps them easily access and find such information and stay on schedule.
VAs need to compose and compile their work in written form – the reason they should have good writing skills.
Writing is an all-consuming task that requires proficiency in written words. Your life gets easier when you hand over the job to writing assistants.
They provide a new set of eyes for research, proofreading, and fact-checking. They also make drafts based on your audio records and participate in brainstorming with you.
iii. Quick thinking and decision making
Good decision-making skills are crucial for virtual assistants since they often have to think on their own.
Your VAs have to think outside the box and digest information to make decisions quickly.
They also have to do it first when the problem is critical, which demonstrates their skill to process information fast.
One great way to make effective decisions is to prioritize tasks when there are too many problems.
VAs can’t work on highest priority tasks when there’s a system downtime but it allows them to complete general admin tasks sooner than usual.
3. Technical skills
i. Online research
You always have the option to hire expert researchers and train them to relieve yourself from research functions.
Hiring VAs allows you to fill in any blind spot in your research. They help you find information, statistics, and relevant stories that you may have struggled to identify.
You get accurate and organized information on lead generation, market research, keyword research, data mining, and content sourcing when you hire virtual research assistants.
VA services come with a 100% confidentiality guarantee, so you don’t have to worry about data breaches. You also have the freedom to choose from different specialized VA services and the flexibility to get the job done in different time zones.
ii. Data entry and data presentation skills
Data entry VAs can effectively manage and retain bulk of data in an accessible form. They are data wizards who complete any task that you delegate real fast.
From CRM to book data entry, image data management to statistical data reporting- they will produce all types of databases for your business.
These VAs possess great oral and communication skills in English and they are always service-oriented. They have a strong administrative background and are capable of doing multiple tasks when needed.
Other major skills of data entry VAs include proficiency in a good understanding of database structure, computer applications, fast typing speed, high concentration level, and critical thinking.
iii. Social media management
Managing multiple social media accounts for your business is a time-consuming task. Not only do VAs help you handle these profiles but they identify and interact with your target audience.
They know how to do follow-up marketing and manage the calendar. Make sure your VAs have the capability to create interesting blogs, videos, and other posts to be shared on different social platforms.
VAs must know how to:
- Create a profile on social platforms
- Propose new concepts and ideas for social media content
- Research social media trends
- Manage social media communications
- Create focused content to increase audience engagement
- Curate images for blog posts and other content
- Distribute e-newsletters
- Analyze and create a report on audience information
4. Administrative skills
i. Customer service
Virtual customer service assistants should know how to:
- Set up website chat and support desk
- Check and respond to voice mails
- Make outbound Skype calls
- Respond to customer queries and complaints
- Guide your customers through the sales process via the website live chat
- Create tickets and coles them once the task is complete
- Handle product issues that occur between your customers
- Do competitor and market research
- Educate your customers about your products and services
- Upsell your products and services
- Stay calm and friendly on phone calls
- Resolve conflicts
ii. Bookkeeping and accounting
Virtual bookkeeping and accounting assistants help you with the payroll process, inventory management, budgeting, revenue expenditure management, cash flow projection, and more.
Financial record documentation tasks such as balance sheet preparation, organizing financial statements, handling prices and invoices, and creating general ledgers become easier when you take help from VAs. They also help you prepare taxes and make business purchases.
Your virtual assistants should know how to handle legal and regulatory concerns and keep track of your loan and insurance dues.
1.What do VAs do when they have a deadline and their computers suddenly crash?
Ans: Dedicated and resourceful VAs always find a way to go around such situations. They will switch to a tablet or phone while trying to turn their computer on and running. They also check to ensure their work has been backed up online.
2.What will VAs do when I have trouble articulating my needs?
Ans: VAs are able to pick up on your needs and know how to find the source of a particular problem. The key here is to understand both you and your business. A good sign is when they ask questions to better understand your problems.