I started out my VA career working with food bloggers in 2015 on a whim as a placeholder until I got a “real job.” But there are things I had never thought of when applying to virtual assistant jobs until I was the one wanting to take on a VA.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but over the past few weeks I’ve been actively growing my team and have noticed lots of virtual assistants doing the same things when it comes to applying for the posts I’ve been putting up. And I wanted to call this shit out so that if you, like me when I was a VA, are guilty of any of these, you can stop right now!
#1 Follow directions
When I am looking for a Virtual Assistant I am looking for someone who is detail oriented. I try to be as detailed as possible when documenting repetitive tasks for myself and my clients and so I want to know that the person I’m working with reads carefully, pays attention to detail, and follows through on those details.
As my own little test, I include some very specific steps when I post a job for applicants. Things like emailing me, including a specific subject line in your email, telling me your hourly rate, etc.
If you send me a message on Facebook instead of an email, I ignore you; if you don’t use the subject line I ask you for, I delete your email; if you don’t include your hourly rate when you initially reach out, I don’t respond. I’m busy, and if you can’t even follow directions when you’re applying for the work, then my confidence level that you’ll follow directions when doing the work plummets.
#2 Be helpful
Solve a problem for me right off. Business owners are looking for help because they’re busy and they need support. Yes, bringing on a VA takes time, but it shouldn’t be more work for me in the long run.
It makes me practically GIDDY when a VA reads my problem, sees a hole in it, and suggests a solution.
Anticipate a problem I might be having based on the job post and try to solve it for me in your initial communication. Tell me why you’re the right person. Why I’d be crazy to go with anyone else. How your unique special sauce can get me exactly what I need and help me breathe easier at night knowing my shit is taken care of.
#3 Stand out
When I’m looking for a general VA I have them fill out an application that screens them as much for personality as skills and experience. It’s way more important to me that your personality fits me, my team, and my clients.
This isn’t true for every business owner, obviously, but if you always try to stand out, you’ll be at the top of their minds while they’re sifting through all those applications.
#4 Respond in a timely manner
For the love of god. I will never understand why some VAs will apply to a post and then disappear off the face of the earth.
I don’t care if another client you were talking to signed and now you’re too busy or if you fell down and broke your arm. You should ALWAYS respond back. Always. Even if it’s days later because you had a family emergency.
I don’t take on every VA that gets in touch. But you know who sticks out in my mind as someone I’ll never hire no matter how many times they apply to my future posts or how skilled they might be? The ghoster. You’ve shown me you’re not reliable and I’ll hard pass on that every time.
#5 Be honest
This seems like it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Be fucking honest.
Don’t embellish your skills. Don’t embellish your experience. Don’t embellish your level of availability. Don’t lie just to get the job because who does that serve?
As you know, business circles are tight and so you already have an idea about just how many business owners know each other. And the last thing you want is a reputation for being dishonest.
And, as I said earlier, I’d much rather you be a go-getter with amazing Google-fu who will search for the right answer than lie and say you already know all the answers.
#6 Stick to your guns
I’ll be honest. Like any business owner, I’m always conscious of my bottom line. I know my budget or my client’s budget before I even post the job on Facebook.
If I really like a VA but they’re out of my budget, I might try to haggle. If this doesn’t feel good to you, then don’t do it.
If I really like a VA’s qualifications and my turnaround time is tight, I might try to sweet-talk them into delivering faster. If this doesn’t feel good to you, then don’t do it.
There’s a lot of chatter in VA groups on Facebook about how when potential clients do this it’s gross and devalues VAs, and in some cases that’s true. But I’d say in a majority of cases it’s not. It’s a business owner trying to get what they want. You never know if you don’t ask. It’s up to YOU as a fellow business owner to say yes or no.
And I’d add that the only person who can allow someone to devalue your business is you.
#7 Be proactive
You are a business owner. Period. Full stop. Don’t wait for the client to ask about a contract or what the next steps in the process of hiring you might be.
The less you make me have to work for it, the more likely I am to work with you. Because I want you to make my life and my clients’ lives easier. Simple as that. If I have to hound you or follow up a million times just to get started, I am probably gonna give up and go with someone else.
#8 Follow up
You’re busy running your business, right? So are the people looking for help. Business owners get distracted or they get busy or they open the email you send them and forget to respond.
I wrote a whole post about how the money is in the follow-up . But it’s so important that I wanted to mention it here too. Follow up with them and stay top of mind. Nothing says “I’m the right fit for alleviating your stress and helping you take care of your problem” quite like tenacity.
To recap, if you want to make a good impression and land the gig every time, follow these 8 steps:
- Follow directions
- Be helpful
- Stand out
- Respond in a timely manner
- Be honest
- Stick to your guns
- Be proactive
- Follow up
I’d love to hear from VA biz owners: What are some tips you’d add to this list?