Soft Skills for a Virtual Assistant Career
Developing a professional career as a virtual assistant is a popular pursuit, especially after the pandemic taught us that most jobs can be performed from home. No matter what your professional background, you can probably list a number of work tasks that you wouldn’t have to go into the office to complete. If you could convince your boss that working from home would actually increase your productivity, and your IT department would give you secure access to the systems you need, your WFH life could begin today.
Working as a virtual assistant is not all about the skills you bring to the job. Here are some soft skills you will need, as well.
Working in administration, data entry, or even project management already requires a certain level of organization to be successful. Most administrative jobs involve multi-tasking, sometimes at the whim of the boss or other team members. Data entry relies heavily on details and file or document management. And project management is all about being organized enough to keep a project moving through multiple steps and various team members while being able to report progress to the boss at regular intervals or any time you are asked.
Virtual assistants have to take that level of organization up a notch because everything is virtual. Most virtual assistants work for more than one client, doubling or tripling the number of tasks they have to keep track of. Organization is key to success in the WFH arena.
This may be the most important of all the virtual assistant skills, but it is also the one that is worth the most money to you. As a virtual assistant, the better you manage your time, the more money you can make. As independent contractors, virtual assistants do not get paid for being in the office for eight hours each day. They are only paid when they are working, which means you have to maximize your working hours to give yourself a raise.
When you work from home, you begin to realize how much time you spend not working each day. A long lunch cuts into your billable time, as does a chat with a friend on the phone or a “quick” break to check social media that sends you down a rabbit hole for half an hour. Being able to manage your time to make use of your most productive hours is an important skill for virtual assistants.
Most people work for a paycheck that allows them to buy the necessities in life, and if they’re lucky, some small luxuries from time to time. That sort of motivation can get you by in a typical in-person job. But people who develop professional careers by applying their skills online for multiple clients are driven by a different sense of accomplishment. Their motivation comes from a deeper sense of purpose than just earning the money they need to live.
To have a successful career as a virtual assistant, you need a deeper reason that compels you to achieve. That is your “why,” and you have to know your “why” and keep it in front of you every day. Some people are just wired to achieve; we used to call them self-starters. Intrinsic motivation is an important quality for a virtual assistant because you cannot necessarily rely on your clients or your virtual team members to motivate you to do your best, and without it you may not thrive in this career.
Despite the popularity of WFH positions, they are not the best career path for everyone. Before pursuing a professional career as a virtual assistant or any other WFH opportunities, you should assess yourself on these important skills: organization, time management, and intrinsic motivation. Like any other skills, these can be learned with the proper guidance and discipline. Understanding your abilities in these three key areas is the first step in developing a successful WFH lifestyle.