If you are looking for a job that will allow you to work from home, you’ve probably come across the opportunity to be a virtual assistant, or VA. The job has taken the traditional role of the assistant and made it digital, allowing people with strong organizational skills to provide support for people and businesses, no matter where they are.
In this article we’ll give a brief overview of what it means to be a virtual assistant and go over the different types of virtual assistant jobs that may be out there. We’ll also give you some pointers on how to stand out when applying for VA jobs.
Lastly, we’ll give you some good places to start looking for VA jobs, whether you’re coming in for an entry level gig or looking for a higher paying job that may require previous experience.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is, as you might have guessed, someone who does assistant work, but does it completely remotely. As more and more businesses go digital, and people grow ever more comfortable with hiring employees in a virtual space, the role of an assistant is increasingly one that can be done totally from the comfort of a home office.
What exactly a virtual assistant does is dependent on the needs of the business or person they are assisting. We’ll dive into the many different types of virtual assistant in the next section, getting into specifics of the different jobs and job descriptions out there. But before we do, there are a few traits that apply to most virtual assistants, no matter what type of job they take.
What Makes a Good Virtual Assistant
Good virtual assistants combine all the skills of a great assistant with the technical understanding of the digital world.
In job listing after job listing, we see the same traits listed as desirable for virtual assistants. These hiring teams are almost always looking for people who are:
- Excellent at anticipating the needs of a business or individual
- Skilled at planning
- Strong collaborators and communicators
On top of that, great virtual assistants know how to get work done virtually. Strong email organizational skills are helpful, as is knowing your way around different types of software that help businesses run.
Basically, to do your job well from a remote location, you need to be able to work well online. No matter how great an assistant you’ve shown you can be, if you can’t do it digitally, the virtual assistant job may not be for you.
Different Types of Virtual Assistant Jobs
There are many different types of VA jobs out there. Some are full-time and some are part-time. Some are industry-specific. Others have you working directly for one person, while many have you supporting a business.
In this section we’ll help you navigate these different types of job types, help you understand and recognize different job titles, and hopefully get you pointed to finding the right type of VA job for you.
One caveat — there is no industry standard for job titles in this field. What some companies may describe as an “Administrative Assistant” may be called an “Executive Assistant” or “Operational Assistant” at a different company. This is merely meant to be an introductory guide to these different types of jobs. Make sure to read the job descriptions carefully before you apply.
1. Personal Assistant
A personal assistant is just what it sounds like — your job is to assist an individual person. This may be in a business capacity but often it’s providing assistance in the day-to-day running of someone’s life.
Job duties in this role run the gamut from making travel arrangements, to orchestrating the schedule of the dog walker, to picking out and ordering a baby gift for a friend. For busy executives who struggle to maintain a work-life balance, a virtual personal assistant can give them the support they need to keep life organized, both from a business and personal standpoint.
2. Executive Assistant
An executive assistant is also often assigned to an individual person, or perhaps a small team of executives, but the executive assistant role is often more regimented than the role of a personal assistant. While not always, an executive assistant’s responsibilities are usually more closely aligned with the needs of the company as opposed to the needs of the individual person.
You may still do travel booking, but it will more likely be for business trips as opposed to personal vacations. Likewise, when it comes to payment, you will often get paid by the company as opposed to an individual person.
3. Administrative Assistant
A virtual administrative assistant typically provides administrative support to a company. This can take the form of meeting scheduling and organization, correspondence, light data entry, presentation help, and other assorted administrative tasks.
In some instances, you may take on the role of project manager, overseeing administrative initiatives of a company. For small teams especially, a part-time administrative assistant can help them get more organized, and push their company forward in a major way.
4. Small Business Assistant
A small business assistant may take on many of the roles of an administrative assistant, but often gets tasked with doing lots of small things to help a small team. One day you might be doing some light graphic design for social media, the next taking on customer care, answering phone calls, and helping customers get in touch with the right team member.
If the team works totally digitally, you could also take on some duties as a sort of remote office assistant, helping executives find best practices for team communication and collaboration in a digital space. If you love working on a small team, this could be a good job to find … and you’ll be doing all this while still being able to work at home.
5. Research Assistant
Research assistants are often hired by academics, journalists, author, think tanks, and consultants to aid them in gaining a deeper understanding of a topic. If you have a background in academia, love internet deep dives, or take pleasure in learning deeply about a topic, a research assistant job may be perfect for you.
6. Sales Assistant
A sales assistant is a specialized type of administrative assistant who helps sales teams stay organized, follow up on leads, and convert sales opportunities into done deals. If you have a background in sales, or are looking to break into the business, a sales assistant job could be one to look into.
How to Stand Out When Applying for VA Jobs
On top of the traits described above, the biggest thing in standing out when applying for VA jobs is demonstrating your versatility. Assistant roles can often be jack-of-all-trades roles, with duties changing week to week, and sometimes even day to day.
It’s valuable to show an ability to stay organized and keep projects on task. If you can show that and demonstrate that you’re proficient in Microsoft Excel, have proven experience planning events, and, on top of that, you’re fluent in Spanish, now you’re really starting to look like an ideal candidate.
Other things you might need, depending on the job listing:
- A high school diploma or, depending on the job, a college degree
- Proof that you’re an American citizen, or eligible to work in the United States
- Proficiency with online calendar management
Again, these all change based on the job you’re applying to, and you should read each job description carefully before applying.
Lastly, the best advice we can give is to try and get a deep understanding of the company you are applying to. If you can demonstrate in a cover letter and interview not only your skills, but your understanding of the business and the work they do, that will give you a huge leg up.
For example: A real estate company might be considering a few candidates, all entry level, all demonstrating strong organizational skills. If you can demonstrate that you have also learned a lot about their company, its history, its key initiatives, and show a love of the real estate business, that may be the difference in setting you apart. Hiring teams want people ready to work without a ton of training — if you can demonstrate you’ve done your homework and understand the business, that could land you the job.
Where to Search for VA Jobs
You know the different types of VA jobs out there, and how to stand out when applying. Let’s help you find companies looking for virtual assistant services.
Red Butler is a company that helps executives find virtual assistants, and they’re always looking for qualified candidates. If you’re just starting out in this world and want some help getting connected with potential clients, it can be a great resource.
Belay Solutions pairs companies with high-impact VAs, bookkeepers, and web specialists. They are almost always looking for qualified virtual assistants at their jobs page, and promote great connections, solid work hours, and on-time pay.
The Admin Center
The Admin Center promises small business solutions by providing excellent administrative assistant support, and they’re always on the hunt for new talent. If you love working with small businesses and need some introductions to new clients, they are worth checking out.
Want to find that perfect job yourself? FlexJobs is a job board that specializes in remote job opportunities, and often has plenty of listings for virtual assistant jobs. With a strong search tool, customizable job alerts, and more, FlexJobs is a great resource for anyone looking for a remote job.
Find the Right VA Job for You
There are many different types of virtual assistant jobs out there that take advantage of lots of different kinds of personality types and skill sets. This article will get you started on your journey to finding the right VA job or, with that little bit of hustle, a full-time VA career.