Work From Home: Virtual Assistant

For all those who have been working as Assistants at offices, organizations and other business houses, the Virtual Assistant on the Internet has come up as a means to earn more from the privacy of your home. Also, you are not bound by the physical boundary which means staying at remote place in a country like India you can work for an organization at the U.S. or even U.K.

Requirements
The requirements for starting working as a Virtual Assistant can be broadly categorized into two different skill sets -
A. The Soft Skills
 

This is the set of Skills that you need to have as a person. This is more related to your qualities, qualifications and prior experience. Following are some of the essential soft skills that you should have if you are interested to make a living out of this profession -

1. Fluency in the language your client/employer operates
In most cases, the employers who go for Virtual Assistants are from U.S. and U.K. which means that they operate in English. So you have to have a better command on not only the spoken part but also be able to write correctly. In case your employer has a different language, you have to have mastery on that language.

2. Communication Skills
As most of the work that you will be doing is as a Virtual Assistant, you have to be the one who has to keep reporting to your Employer instead of him/her chasing you to get stuff done. This means that you should be more open in initiating the discussions and meeting up the requirements of your job.

3. Ability to Analyze:
This becomes an essential factor as you grow with ay organization. You should have the ability to understand what is being said, what is expected and how you should go about meeting the requirements and expectations. You must be internet savvy and willing to do some research for the organization as well.

B. The Technical Skills
 

This set of skill needs you to be aware of the following
 

1. Office Productivity Tools
Generally this set of tools includes MS Office or Open Office packages. Some of the organizations are also into using Google Docs. So you have to consult with your employer to find out what tools they use. Once you know, you have to learn or master them. Mastering these tools is not that difficult as, in most cases, you would be required to work with Document Processors and or Spreadsheet Packages and/or Presentation Packages.

2. Chatting Software
You must also be aware of using chat applications like Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and also MSN Live. If you have been using the internet, it is quite likely that you already will have these tools on your computer. Just find out what is preferred in the organization for which you plan to start work.

3. Team Activity Software
Knowledge of an application that allows you to work in a group or as a part of a team is also essential. There are several tools available for this - Logmein, GoToMeeting and many others. You have to find out what your employer uses and learn (and maybe even install it at your local computer). In most cases you will be provided with the user id and other details once you join the organization.

4. Anti Virus and Firewall
As you will be logging on to another computer and be online for most of the time, your computer will remain vulnerable to cyber attacks or malware, Virus and Hackers. So, to protect yourself from these, you should have a good anti virus installed on your computer. Along with this, you should also have a firewall to protect you from hackers and malware. For antivirus you can read my earlier posts

C. Educational / Experience Background - Also Your Job Profile
Depending on the requirements of your employer, you should have any or all of the following
 

1. Writing
Many a times you would be required to write for the Employer. This writing of yours will be used in press releases, blogs, emails, updating text on web sites, etc. This means you should have a strong command on the language that your employer prefers.

2. Talking on the Phone
On a regular basis you will be required to make and attend call to the clients of your employer on his/her behalf. The purpose of this can be to let the clients know of the various up-coming proposals or generating prospects for the employers.

3. Country and Business Specific
You will be required to have knowledge in the areas of Accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, or anything else. For this you have to research for the available rules and regulations that are applicable to the Employers country. Remember that you are working for an employer at a different Country. So you have to familiar with their rules and law not just those prevalent in your country.

4. Technical Computer Work
Depending on the business of the Employer, you might also be required to build or maintain the website of your employers’ organization. This requires you to have knowledge of HTML, CSS, and other web technologies as required by the Employer.

5. Internal Research
You should be ready and willing to do competitor analysis, product comparisons, etc. which will help the Employer.

6. Event Planning
This is essential because most of the organizations have their own schedules and policies for vacations, meetings, seminars, etc. You should be able to manage this information.

In short as you see, most of the requirements involve the Human Resources. So I would suggest you to have some educational background and/or experience in the Human Resource Management if you are willing to take up this as a Profession.

Where to find the jobs?
 

1. Job Hunting Sites
There are a lot of sites on the internet that allow you to register with them and search for jobs that you can do from your home. Some of the reputed sites are odesk, rentacoder, getafreelancer. You can even do a Google search for finding more such sites.

2. Virtual Staffing Agencies

You can also register yourself with a virtual staffing agency like Team Double-Click. Team Double-Click offers a 30-day money back guarantee and puts their virtual assistants through a rigorous application process.

3. Virtual Assistant Associations

You can also register with Virtual Assistant Associations, like International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) and the Virtual Assistant Networking Association (VANA).

What Else Do I Need To Know
Once you are through the process and have been selected for the job, you should also have the following information

1. Mode of Payment
This refers to the method that the organization will use to pay you. In most cases, it is Paypal or Alertpay. But in some cases, it can be a payment directly to your bank account from the Debit or Credit Card of your employer. You can also ask them to find out if they do livewire transfer or you can use the western union money transfer.

2. The Taxation
You must also be aware of the taxes that you will be paying. In case of a Virtual assistant, when you work for an organization from another country, there are generally two Taxation rules that apply - one from the country where your Employer is based and the other prevalent in your country. I would recommend consulting a competent Tax Consultant who can guide you on what rules apply to you and how much do you pay.

3. When Will I Be Paid
This is the question that you should ask your employer before joining. Some pay on a week to week basis whereas some prefer to pay on a monthly basis. You cannot change the rules and policies of your employer organization but you should know that when you will be paid.

Is There Anything Else That I Need?

 
In case you are seriously considering working as a Virtual Assistant, I recommend you the following in addition to what you have -
 

1. A Stand-by Internet Connection
Just in case you have some troubles getting online with the one that you already have, you can use your backup and stay online. This is essential because, your being offline means that you are unable to work and this will never be liked by your employer.

2. Get Certified
There are a few programs that provide you with certifications. Here is a brief list of them
a. AssistU
b. IVAA
c. VA Certification


3. Register in a Couple of Web Directories
To get noticed by the Employers, you can also get yourself registerd at the following web directories
a. Elite Office Support
b. Specialist Virtual Assistants Club
c. VA4U
 

4. Also join a few Support Groups
a. Virtual Assistant Networking Forum (VANF)
b. Virtual Business Group
c. Virtual Professionals.com
d. Real Estate Virtual Assistant (REVA) Network

Hope that you find this post useful and helpful. Contact me or provide your valuable feedback


Cheers


4 comments :

bob said...

The great advantage of hiring a Virtual Personal Assistant instead of hiring a regular office worker is that it comes out cheaper for the company.

RACNicole said...

Hi, this is Nicole from Rent a Coder.

Thank you for recommending our service. I'd like to point out some key differences between Rentacoder and some of the other services mentioned since those differences could influence earnings.

First, oDesk charges a minimum 10% in worker fees. (3% if you pay for upgraded membership). Freelancer also charges a minimum 10% in worker fees. (3% if you pay for upgraded membership). But Rent a Coder does not have any subscription fees or any other types of hidden fees. It charges only 7 - 15% in project fees.

Second, workers on Odesk cannot place more than 2 bids a month unless they take certain Odesk tests, or receive feedback on a certain number of projects. Workers on Freelancer cannot place more than 15 bids a month unless they pay a subscription fee (which also reduces their commission fee from 10% to 3%).

Experience tells us that it takes many bids to land just one job. With limited opportunities to bid, you may not be successful with a service that limits your ability to bid. That's why there are no bid limits at Rentacoder.

I invite you and your visitors to compare the 7 major services through this link to learn even more: http://www.rentacoder.com/RentACoder/DotNet/misc/CompetitorInformation/WhyRentACoder_ForSellers.aspx

If you have any questions, please let me know. You can also call in to talk to a facilitator 7 days a week, or email us (see http://www.rentacoder.com/RentACoder/misc/Feedback.asp).

Nicole
www.rentacoder.com

Geniuz said...

Hey Nicole...
Thanks for an update on the differences between the sites. About the link, it was just intended to tell to the readers where they can find out the various opportunities.

RACNicole said...

You're welcome, Geniuz. Thank you for giving me a platform to speak nonetheless.

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