Today’s professional world looks vastly different than it did 10 years ago. Thanks to flexible work arrangements, many people work outside the office as remote employees or contractors, collecting a paycheck from the comfort of home.
If you’re looking for a way to earn income without commuting to work, a job as a freelance virtual assistant might be right for you. Virtual assistants help managers and business owners with administrative tasks such as bookkeeping, data entry, and scheduling meetings — right from their living rooms. And as freelancers, virtual assistants can choose to take on multiple clients at once, work 9–5, or do the job as a side hustle.
The best part? The role is in high demand. The global market for virtual assistants was valued at 2.48 billion USD in 2022, and it’s only expected to grow in the coming years.
Working as a virtual assistant is an excellent way to earn money and create more freedom in your day-to-day — but before you can start sending out your resume, you need the abilities required to do the job well. Read on and discover the most important virtual assistant skills to learn and develop.
15 must-have virtual assistant skills
A successful virtual assistant embodies a number of skills and qualities. You must have the interpersonal expertise to build relationships with your clients, the administrative know-how to stay organized, the time management skills to complete work independently, and much more.
If you’re new to the role, there’s a lot to learn — but we can help. Here are the essential traits you want to include on your virtual assistant resume:
Hard skills are the technical talents and training that help you do your job. As a virtual assistant, you should develop the following hard skills that align with your niche:
- Social media management: Companies may ask a virtual assistant to manage their social media accounts by posting content and responding to inquiries in the comments and DMs. If this is the type of work you intend to do, it’s essential to understand how to use the most popular social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
- Writing and typing: Most virtual assistant work happens at a computer, meaning writing clearly and typing quickly are very valuable skills. This is true whether you’re drafting a press release for a client or adding data to an internal Excel spreadsheet.
- Email management: Some clients may want assistance managing their email. This means asking a virtual assistant to read and organize their inbox and reply to some messages as needed. It’s vital to have excellent email etiquette and strong writing skills to succeed at this virtual assistant task.
- Bookkeeping: Some virtual assistant duties may include bookkeeping tasks, such as contributing to company payroll management. If you intend to support a business in this capacity, you must familiarize yourself with bookkeeping basics and relevant software.
- Data entry: Working with data is a common requirement of virtual assistants in various industries. You should understand how to read, organize, and enter data into a client’s spreadsheets or other documents as needed.
- Project management: A virtual assistant must be able to support their client in project management. This might involve outlining a workflow, scheduling actionables, or drafting supporting materials, like presentation slides.
- Customer service: Many virtual assistants work in customer-facing roles. For example, answering customer phone calls may fall under your portfolio. To handle these tasks, you must have strong interpersonal skills and feel comfortable dealing with every kind of customer, including displeased ones.
Unlike hard skills, soft skills aren’t job-specific. These general traits make you better at your work and an asset to clients. You should develop the following soft skills:
- Organization: Organizational skills are important in any freelance role, but particularly crucial for a virtual assistant. From the moment you sign a contract with your first client, it should be clear that you can keep on top of the client’s needs.
- Attention to detail: Virtual assistants aim to make their client’s work as efficient and easy as possible, right down to the last detail. Whether writing typo-free meeting notes or managing a project with many moving parts, you must remain detail-oriented.
- Communication skills: Virtual assistants need to communicate effectively — verbally and in writing. Strong communication skills improve project management, customer service, and simply talking with your clients.
- Reliability: A client trusts important elements of their businesses will be completed by their virtual assistant. You need to be reliable and deliver on your assigned tasks.
- Discipline: Virtual assistants don’t just have to deliver their work reliably — it also has to be done well. You must be self-motivated, dedicated to your role, and disciplined enough to always deliver your best work.
- Time management: One of the benefits of working as a virtual assistant is the possibility of a flexible schedule. But to enjoy your free time and meet your client’s needs, you must rely on time management strategies to meet every deadline.
- Problem-solving mindset: If a virtual assistant runs into a problem at work, they can’t walk down the hall and ask someone for help. Instead, you need to use your creativity and expertise to find solutions independently.
- Good decision-making: Virtual assistants may find themselves in stressful situations while working. It’s vital to use your best judgment and make decisions in the client’s best interest.
Best practices for virtual assistants
Once you land your first virtual assistant job, you should still constantly work to improve yourself and offer clients the best possible experience. Here are a few tips for keeping clients happy and satisfied:
Working in the virtual space makes it easy to feel detached from your clients — like you’re dealing with a faceless email and not the person behind it. Remember to inject a touch of kindness into all your communication. This will help you and your client feel connected, even from opposite sides of the globe.
Keep in touch with your clients regularly. Give them updates on projects you’re working on, and alert them if you run into any problems. Communication ensures everyone is always up-to-date on progress and allows your client to feel confident your work is getting done.
Virtually assisting clients can be complicated work. You have to wear many hats, from managing customer relationships to scheduling project meetings and everything in between. And if you have more than one client, you have even more tasks to keep track of. Using tools that streamline your workflow, such as a social media scheduling application or invoicing software, helps you devote more time to supporting your clients.
Always have a backup
Technology is a wonderful thing, but it can break down. Always keep backup files of all your clients’ deliverables so you’re prepared if a file becomes corrupted, deleted, or otherwise disappears.
Manage clients with Practice
With the right mindset and tools, you can become an excellent and successful virtual assistant. Practice can help you fast-track your journey. Our blog is a robust — and free — resource that can teach you all about working as a virtual assistant, including how to land your first client.
We also offer virtual assistant contract templates to help you streamline client onboarding and customer relationship management (CRM) software designed with freelancers in mind. Use our CRM to book calls, invoice clients, and manage contracts — all in one place.