Today (April 25) is National Administrative Professionals Day, an international celebration of the work personal assistants, executive assistants, team and admin assistants, receptionists, secretaries and many more do on a daily basis. As a recruitment consultancy dedicated to matching outstanding business support professionals with employers of choice across London, the UK and globally, we know
Considering a career in virtual assistance? One of our top VA candidates explain how she got into the business and how she finds it working virtually.
How did you become a virtual assistant?
I was working as a senior PA for a private individual and due to moving around as an Army wife, I worked virtually throughout the second year of our contract. I have also run my own communications business for about eight years now, working virtually for clients on projects such as web design, freelance writing and marketing and so I was experienced in the most unique aspect of the role, namely working away from the client. I then applied for a Tiger Virtual position earlier this year and was successful in joining the team.
What did you do before being a virtual assistant?
I have worked as a PA/Administrator for about 10 years, working my way up from a Team Administrator to a Senior PA/EA. I have also worked in a number of other industries, such as marketing, property and web design, which gives breadth to the skills I can offer.
What type of people do you tend to work for? Business owners, private individuals etc..?
I tend to work for smaller companies and/or individuals, in a private and/or commercial capacity. I specialise in working for fledgling companies or for individuals, where a ‘sleeves-rolled-up’ approach is required, and my role tends to be very varied.
Why did you choose to become a virtual assistant?
As an Army wife I move every few years, which makes it hard to find a long-term job in one specific location. Working as a virtual assistant allows me the flexibility to maintain a career for myself whilst fitting in with my husband’s. I also have other interests outside of work, which I am able to fit in more easily due to saving time through not having to commute.
What is the part about being a virtual assistant that you most enjoy?
I like the autonomy and the challenges that come from getting to know and understand a client without daily face-to-face interaction, and the subsequent satisfaction when the client is thrilled with the support being provided.
What is the most challenging part of being a virtual assistant?
Being on your own all day can be tough and a bit isolating, so it is vitally important to make time to leave the house at least once during the working day, as you would do in an office. I go swimming, walk the dog, meet friends for a coffee or run some errands, in order to change the environment and talk to someone other than the dog! Staying away from the fridge can be a challenge too…
What skills are most important within a virtual assistant role?
Self-motivation is essential, as is time-keeping, organisation and being content with the fairly solitary set-up. One needs to be utterly professional and have a good listening ear to discern what clients are looking for and to then deliver the project on time. It is also important to be able to communicate clearly both verbally and in written format.
If you were given the opportunity to improve a skill, what would it be?
I would like to improve my good French skills back up to near fluency, incorporating business French.
What kind of a character would best suit being a virtual assistant?
Independent, resilient, proactive and problem-solving.
Would you say previous PA experience is vital to become a virtual assistant or could people get into that line of work with transferable skills?
I would say that it is crucial to understand how to administratively support an individual in their business pursuits, alongside a strong knowledge of IT packages, good typing skills and a ‘can-do’ attitude. So many workplaces nowadays ask their staff to multi-task and it may be that all of these things are being accomplished by someone who is not strictly a PA. That someone may be able to bring something else to the table such as marketing skills, or an understanding of website CMS; it’s all about making one’s skills clear on a CV and being able to explain your diversity in interview.
To find out more about working virtually, check out Tiger Virtual.