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7 qualities you should look for in a virtual assistant

One thing we always find ourselves saying is that being a successful virtual assistant isn’t simply about helping someone with their admin or supporting their business – it’s about knowing how to manage and communicate with them as well. With that in mind, if you yourself run a business and have considered enlisting the services of a VA, then here are seven qualities you should look out for…

Reliability

Sadly, a common complaint we hear from clients (that come to us after being let down by other agencies) is that they’ve been ‘messed about’ by VAs who were slow to respond to calls or emails, or simply didn’t deliver at all. This kind of issue makes us angry as it gives the industry a bad name. It’s also one of the strongest reasons why you should go through an agency that specialises in VAs rather than looking for one on your own. For instance, at PA Business Support, we go to stringent lengths to make sure our VAs are reliable, taking direct responsibility for their performance and only working with those that have an excellent track record.

Communication skills

As a manager or director, you will have a preferred way of being kept up to date. For example, we have clients who like daily updates – others, once-a-week on Fridays. We even have one or two who prefer WhatsApp. This is entirely up to you, but if you’re chasing your VA for updates then they’re simply not doing their job. We make sure our VAs and our clients are aligned on frequency and channels of communication from the start.

Time-management skills

The essence of a good VA is time-management. Multi-tasking is part of what they do for a living, and the best VAs we’ve known do it effortlessly, sticking to a schedule, and delivering to deadlines. Priorities shift all the time, so you want someone who is adept at managing that, as well as the handling the resulting changes to timelines.

Resourcefulness

It should go without saying, but a VA who isn’t able to think laterally will not do very well. In over 90% of our clients’ cases, the VA needs to hit the ground running and get up to speed on everything within a very short space of time. Most of our VAs have specialisms which can be key to achieving this in certain businesses – and this influences how we present them to clients: as solution providers and problem solvers (not simply admin support).

Expectation management & trust

Many businesses working with a VA will be doing it for the first time. Even with previous experience it is important to manage expectations. A skilled VA will know how to make sure you have a clear and agreed understanding of what to expect from the get-go. They’ll also instil confidence and trust. If they don’t, then our advice is not to hire them.

Ability to add value

You need to feel that your VA is invested in the success of your business. That’s where the real value is found, in their willingness to go the extra mile, and not just do the minimum they can get away with. We are very stringent on who we work with for this reason; we make sure that everyone we put forward for a job has as much synergy as possible with the business, even before they start, so we can be sure it will be right for both parties.

Being a self-starter

This one goes hand-in-hand with resourcefulness. Someone who is quick to understand, proactive, and doesn’t need to be closely managed, is well on their way to being an effective VA. ‘Self-starter’ is overused on CVs, so you should make sure (as we do) that you can see or hear evidence of it, whether through references, testimonials, or a candidate’s answers to interview questions.

Conclusion

As with every industry, the quality of virtual assistants varies greatly. With PA Business Support, we only have the very best on our books, and we screen them thoroughly. From there, the decision is up to you. Always pay close attention to the qualities and abilities listed above and you’ll be well on your way to hiring a fantastic, stand-out Virtual Assistant who does your business proud.

And of course, if you’d like to find the perfect match, give us a call – we’re happy to help!

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