Virtual assistants perform administrative work remotely (work at home), and they have the same level and kind of responsibilities as they work in the business office setting. Even though job duties for virtual assistants mainly refer to office secretary work, virtual assistants can actually work on a wide range of job functions, depending on individual skills. Such duties of virtual assistant include and not limited to: customer service, answering phone calls, book keeping, data entry, appointment setting, document creation, database creation and maintenance, ghost writing, emails management, Internet research, newsletters publishing, web logo and graphic design, voice over and many more.
A virtual assistant should have basic skills, such as, good typing skills for quick data entry and creating documents, know how to use popular office software especially Microsoft Office, customer service skills in order to be able to assist and help customers, computer skills to be able to handle tasks such as emails management and Interent research, basic book keeping skills for record keeping, and well organized to handle multiple tasks effectively. Advanced skills could including graphic and website designs, database creation and management etc.
The virtual assistant skills can be obtained on job or special training. Many community colleges offer administrative assistant training classes and certifications, and many related classes and programs such as database and web design etc. The more skills a virtual assistant has, the better job outlook for him/her.
To find a virtual assistant job, visit job bank sites such as careerbuilder and yahoo hotjobs, or major work at home sites and forums, occasionally employers posts jobs over there as well. Another place looking for virtual assistant jobs is freelance job sites (such as guru.com, eLance.com and GetAFreeLancer.com) – those sites might have more short term temporary projects you can bid on. The problem with freelance job sites is since you have to compete with lot of other bidders (especially those overseas), you might end up getting paid lower rate than you expected. However, it is a way to get your foot in the door and you might even be able to find a long term job or clients of your virtual assistant business. You can also search craigslist, start with local search. Some people find craiglist very effective especially when search locally. No matter where you look, make sure use common sense while searching and applying for jobs, and be cautious about work at home jobs scams.
Many experienced virtual assistants run their own virtual assistant business, offering the services I mentioned above. Running a business gives them great flexibility working from home and the sense of control and achievement. However, working skills and experience is not enough to run a successful virtual assistant business, it requires a lot more. I will be exploring this topic in my next post.