When the Pandemic hit, a lot of businesses had to adjust to work-from-home setup. Lots of people are now more open to finding and building a career out of working from home. While VA House is only months old, all of our current VA partners are from call centers, corporate workers, and business owners who simply want to find more work online.
The common problem that we encounter is that they barely have any experience as a VA or working from home. This is often a huge roadblock because most clients are looking for at least a year of experience as a VA.
Now if you are starting a career working from home, here are some tips we’d like to share so you can become more successful at landing a client. We already believe that you have the right skills to start off, it’s just a matter of understanding what clients truly need and then applying and mastering them so you become a rockstar VA!
Great Communication Skills – Written and Verbal
Most clients would accept average communication skills depending on the work that is required of you. But while you are waiting to land a client, you can continuously improve your communication skills by reading English educational articles, books, and other reading materials.
What does this do? This will greatly improve your writing and communication skills because you are practicing your mind to read and write in English. You will be more familiarized with proper spelling, and you will learn how to read and understand what you are reading, faster.
If you have time to watch, watch English movies or series’ instead. This will train your ears to listen and understand English better. And when you want to practice what you’ve learned, read or say phrases in English in front of the mirror, and say them out loud. This helps build your confidence and you’ll hear yourself saying it right or wrong.
DON’T BE SHY! This exercise is for you to improve 🙂
Microsoft and Google Suite Programs
Growing up, it’s all about using Microsoft Office Suite for our essays, projects, reports, etc. At some point, you’ve used these tools at school and at work. Today, Microsoft still offers the same suite that’s widely used by businesses – Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Google has similar tools that’s cloud-based and being knowledgeable in these tools will greatly position you well when you’re looking for a client.
If you have a Gmail account, chances are you already have access to Google’s Suite of Docs, Spreadsheet, and more! Take the time to browse through these tools and learn more about them. It never hurts to gain more skills that companies love to use when collaborating with their remote employees!
Work from Home Essential Tools
When it comes to work from home essentials, you have two types that you need to invest on. One is your computer/laptop, and two is the software you will use to help you run your “online desk”.
For hardware, I personally invested on a mid-range laptop. This means at least 4-8GB of RAM, 128gb of storage (in my experience, I rarely go over my 128gb storage because all my work is on the cloud!), and an i3-i5 processor. An i3 processor works well for most cloud-based admin stuff.
For software, I would suggest getting
- Google Suite (free if you have a Gmail account). It opens up Microsoft files with no hassles, and exports files in Microsoft file extension. It’s a win-win.
- You also need Skype for communication.
Eventually, clients will tell you which software they use to run the business smoothly, but don’t be intimidated. Most software are built the same way and if you are familiar with one, you won’t have problems figuring out the others.
BonusTip: Read more on CRMs. This is a really tricky question that most clients will ask you. Most businesses with remote employees use a type of CRM where they put all the business information needed, run the business process, and have access to tools that’s specific to the business.
ProTip: If you can build a small nook in your home where you can set up your own space as an office, that would help you focus more and help you feel like you’re really in an office environment 🙂
This is important because it will save you time, energy, problems, and even your life. Being organized doesn’t mean you’re organized in your job, while that’s one area, being organized in general will help you have smoother days ahead of you!
Working from home is no easy feat. It requires a huge amount of discipline and this usually pays off big time. Once you start working from home, you will enjoy more time in your hands because you no longer have to commute to work for 4 hours. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get distracted. As a matter of fact, lots of people think working from home means you can log in and leave your work.
No, clients have ways to find out if you actually did work just by looking at your output for the day. So practice time management, discipline, honesty, and be organized.
Web Research Skills
Everything you need, you can find online. If you don’t understand some of the things that I mentioned above, pop your computer open and start researching! Web research skills will help you become resourceful and be a true asset to your client. However, web research skills require more than just typing keywords on your browser. You have to be able to determine that what you’re reading is sound advice, or to better put it, not fake news.
There’s an art to this and if you keep practicing your web research skills, you will start to notice when an article is fake, promotional, or just outright educational and makes total sense.
Most clients require you to have at least an average typing speed. While some will require above average 70+ typing skills, it doesn’t hurt to practice it in your free time. There are numerous free typing tutorial sites you can visit and just start typing.
This is an important skill because most times you will be talking to clients/customers and you’ll need to type all the important details while they give it to you.
Most of the time, soft skills will help land you the job (if you already possess most of what I mentioned above, they are all correlated!). Here are examples of soft skills that clients love seeing:
- Teamwork – how well you work with a team.
- Resilience – how you adapt to changes and the solutions you come up with to bounce back
- Problem-solver – most of the time, overseas clients give you the freedom to solve problems as they come. It comes with the job. So if you’re used to waiting for a manager to correct something for you, stop this mentality. Become the first line of defense with your knowledge.
- Great work ethic – this includes honesty, integrity, commitment, dependability, and more!
- Attention to detail
The Right Attitude
That all sounds a lot to start but if you are really dedicated to building a career working from home, you can start today. If you said last year that you’d start working from home but still don’t feel confident about your skills, then start today! You only need to set aside 2-4 hours of your time learning some of the basics and improving yourself.
If you are tired of getting rejection letters because you don’t have the right skills, make sure you’re doing the work on your end to keep improving yourself. Trust me, one day you will land a client that you’ll love working with. Don’t accept defeat so easily, learn from it and be better.
Jan, one of our partners in VA House, started working from home in 2008. She started as a content writer. During that time, she had no idea how to write an article and she ended up writing a one-page article for 6 hours. She decided that 1 article for every 6 hours is a total waste of time. So she started putting in the work in her free time and wrote about anything. She eventually got paid better, promoted to proofreader, and then eventually as an Editor for a Top Personal Branding site in the US.
This experience alone gave way to better opportunities for her. With VA House, she wants to share how she became successful at working from home, and want to share the opportunities with people who are looking for guidance and a better life as a VA.