16 Hard and Soft Skills Employers Look for In Virtual Assistants

The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Virtual Employee: Part VI

On many job marketplaces and agencies, there is fierce competition to get through if you want to become a successful VA. So how do you stand out?

Unbeknownst to most people, there are key things potential employers look for when they’re hiring virtual assistants. To make sure you stand out from the crowd, these hard and soft skills are vital for every Filipino VA.

In Part VI of our series on becoming a virtual employee, we break down every hard and soft skill vital to the job and explain why we should all strive to have them.

Hard Skills

A set of hard skills is an obvious thing you will need to make yourself an appealing candidate to a potential employer. To get the position, you will obviously have to have the skills required for the job. But for many virtual assistant positions, employers are looking for a generalized skillset that can do many things at once. If you’re looking to build a solid skillset that no employer will pass over, these are the hard skills you should look into:

1. Communication skills

In the VA world, all communication happens online on various platforms and through various mediums – video, voice, text, emails. To be an effective VA, you should have some mastery of all these mediums of communication. That means not only being able to communicate clearly and well, but it also means being able to communicate in a way that is polite and professional. You should also be able to understand a broad range of accents in the English-speaking world, because you never quite know where your next employer will be from.

2. Planning and scheduling skills

Many people turn to virtual assistants after they become overwhelmed with the task of organizing their daily activities, meetings, and tasks. That’s why it is always helpful to be good at scheduling and planning. You should know how to organize a day in a way that flows well and where tasks do not overlap over each other. This also includes knowing the immediate tasks in your employer’s future days, so that you can communicate what their days will look like with ease.

3. Mastery of various project management tools

We talked about the various tools and programs every VA should be familiar with in a previous article on this series, but it is worth repeating how important it is. It can be a time-consuming task to teach every VA about the tools their organization uses, so being familiar with the most popular tools on the market is a definite advantage. In particular, knowing how to use popular project management tools like Trello, Basecamp, and ActiveCollab can do a lot to boost your profile.

4. Computer skills

This should be obvious, but many people still apply for VA jobs without knowing the basics of their own computers. We cannot stress enough how important it is that you know how to perform basic tasks. It is not so much that knowing how to use your computer will impress your employer, but it is that not knowing how to use it will definitely get your employer’s attention – and not in a good way.

5. Basic research skills

When we talk about basic research, we don’t mean the kind of research that comes with poring over books in the library, but we instead mean the basic internet research that all VAs should know how to perform. That means that when problems crop up or if there is something your employer needs to know about a topic, you should be able to perform rudimentary internet research and compile that information into a clear written synthesis.

6. Writing skills

Coupled with your basic research skills should be some basic writing skills to go with it. You don’t exactly have to know how to create great content if that is not your main job, but you should know how to compose basic things like emails and reports that are clearly-written and grammatically correct.

7. Basic accounting skills

While this is not exactly a must for every VA, it is certainly a significant skill that many employers would love. Basic accounting skills like journalizing, posting, adjusting, and reporting are all things you can learn fairly easily without a degree in the field of accounting. It is a great skill to learn because it shows that you have a broad range of real-life skills that make you invaluable to an employer.

8. Familiarity with social media

Unless a company has an in-house social media manager, it is likely that basic tasks of uploading content, responding to comments, and keeping a track of social media metrics will fall on a virtual assistant. Being familiar with the big social media platforms and how to use them will save you the time of learning things, and there’s the added advantage of impressing your boss.

9. Ability to multitask

Multitasking is a skill that is prized in almost all industries, including the VA industry. But it should be noted that there is a real distinction between multitasking and multitasking well. The former can lead to inefficient completion of tasks and work slipping through cracks, while the latter leads to a quick completion of multiple tasks at once. For VAs, you should be aiming for the latter.

10. English proficiency

Perhaps the most important of all skills for a VA is the mastery of the English language. Employers are looking for VAs that are easy to communicate with and able to produce grammatically correct work, and that means you should be able to speak and write in English relatively well. If this is something you are struggling with, there are many online resources geared towards improving the English of second-language speakers.

Soft Skills

Hard skills alone are not always enough to win over an employer and keep a job. Often, they are also looking for specific soft skills in a VA’s personality. While you can’t exactly learn a soft skill the way you can a hard skill, you can develop these that will help you as you become a VA.

1. Honesty

While it may seem like it is incredibly easy to lie to your employer as a VA, you should know that a) nothing can stay hidden for very long; and b) lying to your employer will set up a bad relationship that will haunt the rest of your work with them. Whether it is a small matter or a big one, it is best to avoid lying and just tell the truth as your employer will ultimately appreciate it more and in turn, trust you more.

2. Responsiveness and reliability

If you scan through common complaints employers typically have about VAs, you’ll learn that most people have issues with the way many virtual assistants can disappear without notice or take a long time to respond to urgent messages. That’s why VAs who are responsive to their employers and reliable in that they always report for work are so prized in the industry.

3. Resourcefulness

Your employer will not always be able to help you through problems you run into at work. To avoid seeming too dependent on help, you should learn how to be resourceful to create your own solutions. For example, if you run into a software or management issue, you should take advantage of the great information available online and look there first.

4. Detail-oriented

All people make mistakes at work, but paying attention to small details mitigates a lot of the risk that you may create mistakes at work. If that is something you are not naturally adept at, you can still develop the soft skill by making a habit of looking over every detail of the work you produce or even the work of other people.

5. Open-mindedness

The beauty of being a virtual assistant is that you don’t always know what tasks are in store for you each day you report to work. To succeed as a VA, you should be generally open to new challenges and tasks and view them as new opportunities to learn and prove yourself as an effective employee.

6. Kindness

Most of the skills on thisft list are geared towards improving work performance, but it should not be forgotten that work is also a group of people working towards one goal. That means kindness toward others and an easy attitude is still something employers look for in their VAs.

Conclusion

There are many hard and soft skills you can work on as a virtual assistant working online. While this list is not exhaustive, it is certainly geared towards making you a better and more efficient worker. And if you’re still looking for employment, you can use this list to improve your resume and your chances of being hired.

Next in this series, we finish with an article about all the things you should expect when you work for a foreign boss. 

If you’re interested in learning more about being a virtual assistant, we have more articles published on the topic on our website. You can also find us on Facebook and LinkedIn if you are interested in becoming a virtual assistant for reputable companies.