Virtual assistants are the modern-day equivalent of an executive secretary. They should be the jack of all trades, helping their bosses reach important goals, while fulfilling all 101 small, daily tasks that keep most businesses afloat. The VA industry is a competitive work-at-home niche, particularly since most employers are only looking for a single person to fill in the position.
If you’re a virtual assistant and want to get an edge over your competition, here are 5 ways to make your profile irresistible to employers:
1. Be Different, but Learn Everything
The most common tip to stand out from the hundreds of people offering virtual assistance online is to pick a specific skill set, such as SEO. While this is true and an effective technique even today, it shouldn’t keep you from learning new things.
Generally, virtual assistants usually perform duties within a specific category, such as content writing, SEO, digital marketing, social media, audio/video editing, web development, and general assistant tasks that fall under what bosses 1) hate doing, 2) can’t do, and 3) shouldn’t be doing.
If you’re a content writer VA, it’s easy to jump to other categories like social media, admin tasks, SEO, and marketing. After all, most of these categories include some type of research and writing, such as publishing posts on Facebook, hashtag analysis, and off-page SEO (blog commenting, forum posting, responding to posts).
Web developer VAs are a highly tech-savvy bunch. They would be perfect for on-page SEO tasks, graphic design, video/audio editing, e-mail marketing campaigns using advanced tools like Infusionsoft and more.
The best thing about learning new skills as a virtual assistant? With the number of free courses available online, the areas you can specialize in are endless.
2. Portfolio-Building: Document Your Skills
Every work-from-home employee dreams of a stable, long-term employment. Unfortunately, this isn’t the norm for many virtual assistants. As such, you should be prepared to seek another job if and when your current employer decides to let you go. The upside to working with different bosses is that you’ll learn something new, regardless if you had a good experience or not.
Building your portfolio should always be on your mind. It’s best to create a free website from hosts like WordPress.com and turn it into a professional calling card online. Aside from a snippet of your CV, skills offered, and rates, you should also create a portfolio page where you could show off your skills.
• Web design – logos, avatars, graphics, etc.
• Web content – sample articles, links to published work
• SEO – case studies on link building campaigns, etc.
• E-mail campaigns – A snippet of the campaign made
• Video creation – Embedded video of your work
Some employers include a clause on employment contracts that they own rights to all projects you’ve participated on. Honor this clause. You can still show off the skills you’ve learned by creating your own project.
3. Work On Your Personality
No one is a perfect VA. The earlier you acknowledge that there could be something about your personality or work ethic that you can improve on, the better.
One of the most common problems of working from home is that you literally work alone. If a job requires you to be a team player and work with other VAs and employees, find a way to push forward and learn to provide value as a team member.
Ask yourself these questions as honestly as you can:
• How do you handle criticisms?
• Do you feel threatened with co-employees that do better than you?
• How do you deal with failure?
• Are you willing to leave your comfort zone?
• Can you spot and solve problems without supervision?
• Do you take pride in your work?
• How self-motivated are you?
• Can you easily communicate with people you’ve just met?
Did you discover something about yourself? Don’t worry much about these weaknesses, but give extra effort to improve them from here on out:
4. Learn How to Market Yourself
Marketing yourself doesn’t just involve showing off relevant work samples and your portfolio. You’ll need a bit of planning if you want to get the attention of the right employers. Here’s what you’d need:
• Target market – Find job boards and forums that would showcase your work to interested employers. For example: web designer virtual assistants can go to the Smashing Magazine job board, writer VAs can lurk at the ProBlogger Job Board, and more.
• Unique Selling Point – Determine your USP and take advantage of it. If you’re offering a very specific skillset, such as creating augmented reality Android app, then focus on this USP when marketing yourself.
• Master the art of copywriting – The best way to show your personality, writing capability and marketing skills in one go is to practice writing copy.
• Be up-to-date with trends – When writing a profile, cover letter, or other methods of marketing yourself to potential employers, drop some bits of knowledge that would show how well you are up-to-date with developments in your industry.
5. Be Loyal
Once you land a job you like, be loyal. The wide range of opportunities available for virtual assistants makes it easy for workers to hop from one company to the next. Even if employers don’t say it, loyalty is a highly-regarded trait. If you go well and beyond what is required of your job as a virtual assistant, your loyalty can be rewarded tenfold.
The Bottom Line
Virtual assistants can provide value to a business without the big investment required in hiring traditional employees. VAs know this. Employers are aware of this. But as a virtual assistant, this shouldn’t stop you from reaching new heights, upgrading your skill set, and improving your weaknesses to be the jack-of-all-trade VA no employer could resist.