5 Skills Every Virtual Assistant Should Have

The Virtual Assistant Handbook: Insider Secrets or starting and running your own profitable VA businessWorking at home as a virtual assistant requires some important skills. It pays to know these skills--quite literally. Employers feel confident hiring a VA with knowledge of the basic tools and sites that are useful for collaboration and productivity. Here are 5 skills an aspiring VA should possess:

1. Document sharing - After creation of documents comes sharing, which is the basic way of transmitting deliverables. It is important to know both methods of sharing documents and the different formats these documents come in. Depending on the job, documents may be required in .doc, .pdf, .ppt, .xls, etc. It is best to always ask your client about this. If you need to convert documents before sharing transmitting them, there are many tools that you can use to convert documents, such as doc2pdf. Similarly, you should be familiar with the various methods of sharing documents, such as email attachment, collaboration software, sharing sites, or ftp upload. An example of sharing site is Dropbox.

2. Email - Email is probably your first means of communication with a client: when you apply for a job. Good email practice includes writing effective emails, email etiquette, and email organization, which includes creating folders, setting filters, and even time management. Reading emails is one simple activity that can eat a lot of your time. Most free email clients like Gmail have simple tutorials on how to use them. The best thing to remember is to take control of your emails. Otherwise, it will control you.

3. Collaboration tools - These tools range from the simple ones like Google Docs to the more involved ones like BaseCamp. For a long-term writing job, I am currently using a project management tool called ZohoProjects. Whether your client prescribes the tool or you are free to choose, it is important to make the most of collaboration tools, because productivity depends on them for a great part. Explore Google Docs on your spare time; it's a great collaboration tool.

4. Screenshots - Screenshots are useful when explaining something through email or chat is proving difficult. It will save you time to take screenshots of what you want to communicate with your client. You can always rely on your computer's "print screen" function. I use iDesign Soft's !Quick Screen Capture, which is available on CNET. It gives me the option to capture entire screens, rectangular, or square portions. For capturing videos, I use Microsoft Expression Encoder.

5. Instant messaging - The best thing about IMs is that it is instant. It is a quick but informal way of communicating with your client, and it's important for urgent inquiries which you can do real-time. If you are not keeping separate IM accounts for work and personal contacts, learn the basics of selectively setting your availability status. For me, it's better to have separate accounts.

These are just 5 of the things you should learn as a VA. Here's to your success.


  1. I think the most important skill every VA should have is communication skill. Communication skill is very important in modern business sector for dealing the client and boost the business. Without communication skill, you will never know where and when the right place and time are. Here are also several online office tools every VA should have.

    1. James, you are right. These are tools more than they are skills, and comm skills are among the top needed by VAs. I edited the title accordingly. Thanks!


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